King County Metro and Seattle Streetcars will be allowing riders to ride for free from 7 pm on New Year’s Eve, 2019, to 4 am on New Year’s Day, 2020. This is just for King County Metro (including Via to Transit, Community Van, Community Ride, and Access) and the streetcars, not other agencies, nor for the King County water taxis. In particular, ST Express, Link Light Rail, Sounder, the ferries, and the monorail will be charging fare. However, the monorail now accepts ORCA, and honors ORCA transfers and passes.
Independently, Thurston County Intercity Transit goes fare-free as of January 1 for five years.
If any other transportation company is offering free rides, feel free to mention them in the Comments.
New Year’s Eve service extensions and reductions
Metro will be adding more runs to its night routes to get crowds home after the fireworks.
Link Light Rail will run until ca. 2 am. In past years, the actual schedule was published.
The Seattle Center Monorail will operate until 1 am, but will be out of service ca. 10:45 to 12:20 due to fire regulations, since the Space Needle is the epicenter of a majorly popular midnight fireworks show. Did we mention the monorail now takes ORCA?
The Seattle Streetcars will be operating until ca. 1 am.
Metro’s Via to Transit program will be taking requests until 2 am.
The Tacoma Link streetcar will run until ca. 1 am.
During the day, Metro will be running on its Reduced Weekday schedule used mostly for minor holidays, and the reduced schedule for UW routes 167, 271, and 277 is still in effect until UW’s winter quarter starts.
Community Transit will be cancelling most of its commuter service on New Year’s Eve.
Sounder trains will run on a reduced schedule.
New Year’s Day service reductions
Most of the major transit agencies in the region will be running on Sunday schedules on Wednesday, January 1. This includes King County Metro, Sound Transit (so no Sounder service), Seattle Streetcars, Community Transit, Pierce Transit, and Everett Transit.
The monorail will be open 10 am to 9 pm.
Sounder, the King County water taxis, Intercity Transit, and Kitsap Transit do not operate on January 1.
For Washington State Ferries, check your specific route.
Connect 2020 Link Light Rail service disconnects and frequency reductions
Link Light Rail will be closed between SODO Station and Capitol Hill Station for three weekends: January 4-5, February 8-9, and March 14-15. Shuttle service will connect between those two stations, serving bus stops near the downtown stations in between.
Starting Monday, January 6, Link Light Rail trains will start coming every 12 minutes, instead of the usual 10. Passengers will also have to transfer across a center platform in Pioneer Square Station. Entrances at various stations will change up, but signage and ST personnel will provide warnings for specific station changes as they come up.
Bikes will be forbidden in Pioneer Square Station for the duration of Connect 2020. More bike lockers will be available at some stations. Bikers wanting to transport their bikes from University Street Station or other stations north of there to International District / Chinatown Station or other stations south of there will have to do so by some mode other than light rail.
Passenger capacity will actually be greater during Connect 2020 during off-peak hours, as four-car trains will be deployed into revenue service for the first time. Nevertheless, peak capacity may shrink roughly 30%. Spreading out along the length of the entire platform will be key to keeping the trains moving and getting everyone on board, as there continues to be unused space on third cars since riders still crowds the first car, and then the second. Sound Transit requests enhanced respect for those who need the priority seating area, and has deployed more visable large green signage on-board for that purpose.
The regular service pattern is expected to return March 16, but hopefully with no more two-car trains causing most riders not to use the third car.
Happy New Year!