As construction continues throughout the Seattle waterfront and Pioneer Square, an option for getting around the traffic mess continues as well.
The Downtown Seattle Association (DSA) announced Monday plans to extend the free waterfront shuttle through Labor Day of 2019. The shuttle was scheduled to end on October 1, 2018.
One of the primary reasons for this extension is the large rise in the number of riders. DSA said through eight weeks, they had more than 42,000 riders take their free shuttles that travel between the Space Needle, Seattle waterfront, Pioneer Square and the Washington State Convention Center.
The free shuttles have proven to be a hit with riders as more streets face long-term closures in the area and the stress of finding parking is relieved.
Bob Doneghan from Ivar’s and the Waterfront Association said one of the most common things they hear from riders - besides asking if it’s really free, to which the answer is yes - is that the shuttle allows them to spend more time in an area they normally would not be able to.
“People say when they ride the shuttle they spend twice as long in Pioneer Square or on the waterfront than when they didn’t have the shuttle,” Donegan said. “So it helps the merchants and the residents that are down here spend more time in the neighborhood.”
Lisa Howard, the executive director for the Alliance for Pioneer Square, said having the shuttle helps keep people connected with some of the more historic parts of Downtown Seattle.
“Our transit system does a really good job of getting people to Downtown and out of Downtown, but what we were missing was a circulator to get people to where they wanted to go in a really convenient way,” she said.
Donegan added that since the reconstruction of the seawall along the waterfront, public transit has not been able to get people right to the waterfront – instead leaving them a few blocks away, making the shuttle more beneficial.
The free waterfront shuttle operates seven days a week between 10:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. It is ADA accessible and service animals are welcome. There are several signs around the downtown area where you can hop on or hop off the shuttle.
There are three loops riders can choose from: a north loop that covers the Space Needle and Seattle Center. An east loop that takes riders from the waterfront area towards the Convention Center and downtown hotels. The south loop takes riders from the waterfront to Pioneer Square and the stadiums as well as King Street Station.
With the extension through Labor Day, it remains to be seen how much ridership increases when the viaduct closes in 2019.
For more details on the shuttle, visit their website.