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Thank you for an incredible 50 years! Throughout 2023, we’ll be recognizing the milestones reached, the people who guided the way and your vision for King County Metro’s next 50 years.

Fifty years of the wheels going ‘round and ‘round

Celebrating 50 years
  • 1972: Voters get the party started
    A successful sales tax measure authorizes Metro to build a countywide bus system.
  • 1973: Metro gets edgy
    Carle Salley, Metro’s first transit director, is hired. Salley leads the way to innovations considered cutting edge at the time: Articulated buses, lower floors, wider doors and quieter engines.
  • 1978: Lifting up our riders
    After commercial wheelchair lifts failed to perform, Metro engineer Ed Hall designs a lift for buses that becomes the industry standard.
  • 1979: Mood: Electric
    109 trolley buses hit the streets for an expanded, renewed trolley system—leading the country.
  • 1979: Vans around town
    Recognizing buses don’t work for all customers, the agency begins a paratransit service.
  • 1980: We’ve got drive
    Ridership hits an all-time high of 66 million—double that of the early 1970s.
  • 1983: “Aw-shucks”
    Metro named Best Large Transit Agency by the American Public Transit Association.
  • 1987: Metro down under!
    Boring begins on the downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel.
  • 1990: Early and arty
    The tunnel opens a year ahead of schedule for use by new dual-fuel diesel-electric hybrid buses. (The tunnel is configured for light rail as well.) Art in the tunnel receives national acclaim.
  • 1992: Confetti all around
    The American Public Transit Association again names Metro the Best Large Transit Agency.
  • 1995: A first
    Mary Robinson becomes the first female driver named Operator of the Year.
  • 2010: Even better than before! RapidRide lines begin, offering faster, more frequent service.
  • 2017: Is that a marmot?
    Trailhead Direct begins hauling hikers equitably and environmentally to the mountains on weekends.
  • 2018: The trifecta!
    The American Public Transit Association names Metro the Best Large Transit Agency for the third time.
  • 2022: Charge!
    The first New Flyer battery-electric buses roll into the system.
  • 2022: Follow your dreams
    Transit becomes free for all youth 18 and younger!

What’s ahead for Metro’s next 50 years?

Celebrating 50 years
  • Take a (deep!) breath. Metro’s bus fleet becomes 100% zero-emission by 2035.
  • Who needs a car? Convenient connections between bus, home, rail and everywhere you want to go
  • Smooth sailing. Come aboard and enjoy less-crowded roads as more people opt for transit!
  • Nightshift? We’ve got you! More service for whatever times you travel.
  • Safe and secure, whenever you ride! A welcoming experience throughout your entire journey.
  • A world-class team that reflects our community. Visit to help make our vision a reality!

We greatly appreciate all of our community members, customers and employees for connecting neighborhoods and expanding opportunity over the past five decades. We’re excited to continue to work together toward an even brighter future!