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Commuters adjust to more Metro buses on crowded Seattle streets

Thousands of commuters are adjusting to new bus routes since King County Metro buses were moved out of the transit tunnel and onto Seattle streets.

SEATTLE — King County Metro says some bus routes are running into delays of 5-10 minutes after the downtown transit tunnel closed to buses over the weekend and several routes moved to already crowded surface streets.

“We do have some reports of some minor delays, but as far as the overall picture for Metro bus riders, things are going as well as can be expected,” said Bill Bryant, Managing Director of Service Development for King County Metro Transit. 

Roughly 830 more buses are now using downtown streets on a typical weekday. They previously used the downtown transit tunnel, which is now used exclusively by Link light rail trains.

SDOT painted new bus-only lanes on 5th Ave. and 6th Ave. and Metro says some drivers aren’t quite used to the changes.

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“We’ve gotten some reports definitely of drivers not obeying the bus-only signs and so we’re working with Seattle Police and others to try to enforce those,” Bryant said.

Bus stops have moved from underground to above ground, to different blocks, or entirely different streets. Metro notified riders of the coming changes weeks ago, but some commuters still had difficulty finding their new stops.

“You’ll see a rider walk up to the sign and kind of scratch their head and wonder where their bus is, and in many cases, we are ready to point them in the right direction,” Bryant said.

Metro street teams wearing vests are stationed at various intersections with maps and timetables, helping riders navigate the changes. Metro says those teams will be out on the streets for several more days.

Seattle police officers are also stationed at key downtown intersections directing traffic and keeping bus lanes and intersections clear.