With the permanent viaduct closure approaching, Seattle commuters will likely find themselves in a brave new world of traffic congestion – and some will turn to public transit.
King County Metro said this summer that ridership is up 15 percent — and growing.
“Expect buses, trains and light rail to be more crowded than usual during the closure, especially from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.,” King County writes. “If you need to travel in or near Seattle, consider shifting your travel times. Anticipate longer travel times and unpredictable traffic delays.”
With an influx of new transit riders, KING 5 compiled some tips and tricks for a smooth trip.
First – get an Orca card. It covers fares across the King County Metro buses, trains, the Sounder train, state Ferries, and several other county transit groups — all from one account.
It also significantly speeds the process of getting on and off your mode of transit. Metro has some more tips here – and here’s a list of retail locations you can pick up an Orca card.
Second – take some etiquette advice on riding from Metro – and from frequent riders.
“The worst is probably getting on and off the bus when people aren’t prepared,” said Adam Munson while riding the bus to West Seattle. “Waiting five minutes while somebody is fumbling for their wallet for their Orca card or exact change.”
“I’ll say when it’s really crowded, and people don’t wait or just – slow down or get in the middle when you want to go out of the bus,” said Andrea Lazo.
There are also several apps to make your trip easier. Google Maps has a ‘transit’ tab, and Metro recommends using the Puget Sound Trip Planner app for bus schedules and routes. The One Bus Away app also comes highly recommended.
Finally – you can text the bus stop ID from the sign to 62550 for information on when the next bus will arrive.
King County is also encouraging commuters to try new modes of transit – like walking or biking. The water taxi between downtown and West Seattle is also adding additional sailings starting Jan 14 through March 27.
But most importantly, if sampling transit during the “period of maximum constraint” – pack your patience. Officials say buses and trains will be crowded than usual - but it will get better, eventually.
Join KING 5's Seattle Tunnel Traffic Facebook group to stay up-to-date on the latest Seattle tunnel and Viaduct news and get tips to battle traffic during the three-week viaduct closure in January.