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- We’re making traffic more reliable on Rainier Ave S by adding dedicated bus lanes, in partnership with King County Metro. Dedicated bus lanes help keep people in transit moving by separating buses from other vehicles.
- We are adding bus lanes on Rainier Ave S in part because public transit ridership has remained high during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- People traveling on Rainier Ave S will see the benefits of the new dedicated bus lanes once they are installed. Especially in heavy traffic, dedicated bus lanes reduce travel time for people using public transport. More reliable bus travel times can make public transportation a better choice for people traveling in Seattle.
- We have made safety improvements to the Rainier Ave S in recent years as part of the Rainier Ave S Vision Zero Project. We recently began building other safety and intersection improvements on Rainier Ave S. as part of the Route 7 Transit-Plus Multimodal Corridor Project.
- We’re adding dedicated bus lanes on Rainier Ave S. thanks to 80% of Seattle voters who passed Seattle Transit Measure (Proposition 1). Approved in November 2020, Proposition 1 created a revenue stream for a more frequent, reliable and affordable bus service in our city. Through a sales tax of 0.15% (equivalent to 15 cents on a $100 item), you are supporting transit access in your community.
We’re making traffic more reliable on Rainier Ave S by adding dedicated bus lanes, in partnership with King County Metro.
Dedicated bus lanes help keep people using public transport moving more reliably by separating buses from other vehicles. Especially in heavy traffic, dedicated bus lanes reduce travel time for people using public transport.
Learn more about the types of dedicated bus lanes, including who can use them and other details, in our traffic lane page.
The number of transit passengers remained high on Route 7 during the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the reasons we are adding bus lanes on Rainier Ave S is to better serve transit passengers who rely on Route 7.
Route 7 on Rainier Ave S is one of Seattle’s busiest bus routes, serving around 8,000 passengers a day (11,200 passengers a day before the pandemic). Many people who live in Rainier Valley rely on the Route 7 bus every day. People ride buses to schools, day care centers, grocery stores, jobs and community gathering spaces.
In Seattle, many people rely on public transportation every day to get where they need to be and meet their basic needs. People continued to rely on traffic during the COVID-19 pandemic. Public transit ridership remained high on several routes, including routes serving neighborhoods with more people of color. These communities need convenient and reliable transportation service as the city moves forward from the pandemic. It is important that we focus on investments where they are needed most. Doing so aligns with our core values and goals around fairness and safety in transportation.
We’ve been building safety improvements on Rainier Ave S over the past few years as part of the Rainier Ave S Vision Zero Project. Our work to improve safety on Rainier Ave S is not complete. We plan to keep coming back to this street to make more security improvements in the future. We recently began building other safety and intersection improvements on Rainier Ave S. as part of the Route 7 Transit-Plus Multimodal Corridor Project.
Upcoming dedicated bus lane work along Rainier Ave S will take place in two phases, with construction of the first phase planned to take place July 8-10.
This summer, we’ll be in the community to share more information about the second phase of the work and gather feedback from the community.
- Phase 1: In early July, we will begin construction on a dedicated northbound bus lane on Rainier Ave S between S Alaska St and S Walden St. We will also add a dedicated southbound bus lane between S Oregon St and S Edmunds St. remove the curbside lane and turn it into a new bus-only lane. We will retain all existing street parking, the two-way central lane and freight access.
- Construction is scheduled to take place July 8-10. This work is weather dependent and subject to change. The road will remain open during construction, and people can expect periodic lane closures. People can also expect temporary closure of northbound bus stops on Rainier Ave S at the intersections of S Edmunds St, S Alaska St, S Genesee St, 33rd Ave S and S Walden St. These bus stops will be closed for a few hours at a time and relocated bus stops will be provided nearby. Be aware of notices and temporary changes at your bus stop during construction.
- Level 2: We are studying a Phase 2 project that would extend the northbound exclusive bus lane from S Walden St to S Massachusetts St.
- Summer 2022: We will be reaching out to the community to share information about this project and hear your feedback. Your feedback will help inform the Phase 2 project design. Project design will continue through 2023.
TODAY: Typical street design existing on a section of Rainier Ave S (looking north), in the Phase 1 project area
FUTURE: Typical street design on a section of Rainier Ave S (looking north) in the Phase 1 project area. Shows the transition from a northbound traffic lane to a dedicated bus lane.
People traveling on Rainier Ave S will see many benefits from the new dedicated bus lanes, described below.
Expected benefits of the Rainier Ave S bus dedicated lane design:
- More reliable traffic on Rainier Ave S, it comes when you wait. This includes frequent bus routes with high numbers of passengers, such as Routes 7, 48 and 106.
- Easier connections to Mt Baker Light Rail Station and McClellan St. There will also be easier connections to the new Judkins Park light rail station, which will open in 2023.
- Saving you 2 minutes of travel time during an average morning bus ride. Saving you 6 minutes during morning commutes when conditions are more congested than usual.
- Saving you over 1 minute when traveling north between S Alaska St and S Walden St.
- In the future, we expect further savings in transit travel time by extending the exclusive bus lane further north towards I-90. In this area, traffic volumes are higher and congestion is many times higher.
- Shifting more trips to transit helps improve the efficiency of our road space, benefiting everyone.
Fast facts on dedicated bus lanes:
- Bus-only lanes are transit lanes restricted to public transport buses. Public transport buses are vehicles that any member of the public can board and use. This does not include school buses, vanpools, work buses, motorcycles, carpooling or charter buses.
- People who ride bicycles can use dedicated bus lanes. Emergency vehicles may also use dedicated bus lanes.
- Some dedicated bus lanes are restricted to buses 24 hours a day, while other dedicated bus lanes are restricted to buses only at certain times. Street signs and markings indicate bus-only time restrictions. Signs and markings also indicate if/when dedicated bus lanes can be used by other vehicles, including for parking.
- Most bus-only lanes allow people driving other vehicles to enter the lane to make turns at intersections or enter sidewalks.