The transit service changes are coming. The first round of changes roll out on the weekend of March 20th with some additions to King County Metro, Sound Transit, Community Transit, and Intercity Transit. Metro plans to suspend nearly a dozen routes. Sound Transit also plans to implement reduced fares for some riders on Sounder regional rail services and a new King County Water Taxi sailing schedule will begin in April.
Metro’s service changes
Beginning on Saturday, March 20th, Metro will begin its spring service change with a mix of changes–notably adding back some trips on dozens of routes to address crowding at certain times; buses are currently limited with the number of passengers that can be carried due to Covid protocols. The agency says that weekday trips should grow to more than 11,000. Routes that will see service additions include the RapidRide A Line and Routes 2, 3, 4, 7, 10, 11, 13, 36, 49, 50, 60, 106, 128, 132 and 193. Service improvements by route shake out as follows:
- Routes 3 and 4: On weekdays, several trips will be added between 5am and 8am and between 6pm and 8pm.
- Route 7: On weekdays, several trips will be added between 8am and 4pm that operate the Rainier Beach-Downtown Seattle segment.
- Route 10: On Saturdays, 36 trips will be added between 9am and 6pm, and on Sundays, 36 trips will be added between 12pm and 8pm.
- Route 11: On Saturdays, 14 trips will be added between 12pm and 6pm.
- Route 36: On Sundays, 14 trips will be added between 10am and 4pm.
- Route 49: On weekdays and Saturdays, five trips will be added, and on Sundays six trips will be added between 7pm and 9pm.
- Route 50: On weekdays, one trip will be added during the 5am hour and five trips will be added between 1pm and 3pm.
- Route 60: On weekdays, two trips will be added between 4am and 6am, and on Saturdays and Sundays, several trips will be added during the day.
- Route 106: On Saturdays and Sundays, one trip will be added during 11pm hour.
- Route 128: On weekdays, several trips will be added between 7pm and 7pm.
- Route 132: Daily, two trips will be added during the 5am hour.
- Route 161: On Saturdays and Sundays, one trip will be added during the 4am hour.
- Route 193: One trip will be added for a 3pm departure.
- RapidRide A Line: Daily, 10 trips will be added between 6pm and 10pm.
In part to support these service improvement and because of low demand, Metro is suspending additional peak-hour commuter routes. This includes Routes 21X, 55, 56, 57, 102, 111, 212, 218, 301 and 311. Metro will also maintain suspension of several dozen additional routes, including Routes 5E, 9E, 15E, 17E, 18E, 19, 22, 29, 37, 47, 63, 71, 76, 77,78, 113, 114, 116, 118E, 119E, 121, 122, 123, 143, 154, 157, 167, 177, 178, 179, 190, 197, 200, 214, 216, 217, 219, 232, 237, 246, 249, 252, 268, 308, 312, 316, 342, 355, 628, 630, and 931 as well as the Black Diamond-Enumclaw Community Ride.
Sound Transit service changes
Sound Transit also plans to add back some service beginning on Saturday, March 20th. Routes 510, 512, 522, and 532 will see small service improvements, a handful of other routes will see minor adjustments, and new Sounder fares will come into effect. However, the agency maintain suspensions of Routes 541, 544, 555, and 556. Service improvements shake out as follows:
- Route 510: Daily, four trips will be added.
- Route 512: On Saturday, four trips will be added, and on Sunday afternoons, enough trips will be added to provide service every 15 minutes.
- Route 522: On weekdays, three trips will be added between 5am and 10am, and two trips will be added between 1pm and 4pm. That will bring the service back to pre-pandemic levels. However, Sound Transit will continue to stop at additional locations on Lake City Way to cover for Route 312 that has been suspended.
- Route 532: Two southbound morning trips will be added and one northbound afternoon trip will be eliminated.
For many routes, Sound Transit will be be adjusting trip times to better match demand and scheduled runtimes will be trimmed given that traffic levels are lower leading to less delay. Other changes that the agency will implement include:
- Route 513: One southbound trip will be eliminated due to low ridership.
- Route 577: The route will operate on a new northbound path in Downtown Seattle.
- Route 586: The route will serve an additional stop at Federal Way Transit Center.
- Route 595: The route will serve an additional stop at Tacoma Dome to cover for Route 102 that is suspended and provide more service capacity to Seattle.
Beginning on Monday, March 22nd, some riders on Sounder regional rail services could benefit from reduced fares. Youth and low-income people with ORCA Lift cards will be charged $1.50 fares while seniors and people with disabilities will be charged $1.00 fares on Sounder services. ORCA Lift riders will save as much as $2.75 per fare. This would allow these riders to transfer seamlessly across all Sound Transit services and other local transit agencies like King County Metro at no additional cost. The fare changes were approved by the Sound Transit board of directors in December.
Intercity Transit service changes
Intercity Transit plans to improve service beginning on Sunday, March 21st. The service additions will help bring the agency to 63% of pre-pandemic service levels. Additional trips on Routes 12, 41, 65, 66, and 68 will restore service frequency to every 30 minutes. The agency is also planning to add trips across the network to increase the span of service. This will allow most routes to provide service earlier and later in the day. Generally, routes will start service one-and-a-half hours earlier and end service about a half hour to one hour later. In January, Intercity Transit improved service on the workhorse Routes 62A and 62B the operate along the Martin Way corridor by bumping them back up to 15-minute frequencies seven days a week.
Pierce Transit service changes
Pierce Transit will be rolling out service changes on Sunday, March 21st. The changes will help bring service back to 95% of pre-pandemic levels. Routes benefiting from added service are as follows:
- Route 1: On Sundays, 29 trips will be added. This brings the route back to pre-pandemic service levels.
- Route 2: On Sundays, 16 trips will be added. This brings the route back to pre-pandemic service levels.
- Route 10: On Sundays, six trips will be added.
- Route 28: On Sundays, five trips will be added.
- Route 41: On Sundays, nine trips will be added.
- Route 42: On Sundays, eight trips will be added.
- Route 45: On Sundays, six trips will be added.
- Route 48: On Sundays, eight trips will be added.
- Route 52: On Sundays, six trips will be added.
- Route 53: On Sundays, six trips will be added.
- Route 54: On Sundays, 10 trips will be added.
- Route 55: On Sundays, 10 trips will be added.
- Route 57: On Sundays, eight trips will be added.
- Route 100: On Sundays, two trips will be added.
- Route 202: On Sundays, 14 trips will be added.
- Route 206: On Sundays, 10 trips will be added.
- Route 212: On Sundays, six trips will be added.
- Route 214: On Sundays, six trips will be added .
- Route 402: On Sundays, six trips will be added.
- Route 409: On Sundays, nine trips will be added.
- Route 501: On Sundays, six trips will be added.
Across the Pierce Transit network, schedules will be adjusted throughout the week, particularly on routes where new trips are added.
Community Transit service changes
Community Transit will make some service improvements. Trip time adjustments will be made to most commuter routes and most time changes to other routes. Added trips will be made to eight routes, including new weekday trips where demand warrants for Routes 105, 133, 120, 196, 270, 271, and 280 and enough new trips to Route 101 to bring it back to 30-minute frequencies all day on weekdays. The service changes go into effect on Sunday, March 21st.
King County Water Taxi and Kitsap Transit Fast Ferry service changes
Looking ahead, the King County Water Taxi will begin its West Seattle summer sailing scheduled on Monday, April 19th. This is two weeks sooner than normal. However, the summer sailing schedule will also end two weeks earlier on Friday, October 19th. The West Seattle service will operate seven days a week with later evening sailings on Fridays and Saturdays. Service will operate as frequent as every 35 minutes during weekday commuter hours and hourly in between. However, three will be no special evening game departures this year. Vashon Island service will remain unchanged.
Kitsap Transit, for its part, is poised to launch service on Monday, March 29th for its new Southworth-Seattle passenger-only fast ferry. It is due to begin service with reduced capacity to 60 passengers per trip for Covid, but eventually will be expanded to 250 passengers per trip once the pandemic subsides. Fares will be $2 to Seattle and $10 to Southworth. Travel time is estimated to be 26 minutes. An inaugural free ride day will happen on Saturday, March 27th.
Washington State Ferries’ schedules run through early May and could ramp up for the summer as the pandemic begins to subside, which could lead to more commuter and recreational demand for cross-Puget Sound ferry service.
Updates: This article has been updated with additional spring service announcements.
Stephen is a professional urban planner in Puget Sound with a passion for sustainable, livable, and diverse cities. He is especially interested in how policies, regulations, and programs can promote positive outcomes for communities. With stints in great cities like Bellingham and Cork, Stephen currently lives in Seattle. He primarily covers land use and transportation issues and has been with The Urbanist since 2014.