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Metro and the Seattle Department of Transportation are making transit upgrades to Third Avenue. These changes are designed to provide easy transit connections, keep buses running on time, and improve safety by separating cars and buses during the busiest hours. Learn more about…

Third Avenue, Seattle’s most heavily-used transit corridor, is traveled by more than 2,500 buses—moving 100,000 riders—each day. Keeping buses moving on Third Avenue helps connect people to jobs, cultural events, shopping, and homes throughout the region.

By 2035, planners expect Seattle’s downtown area to absorb 25,000 new households and 56,000 new jobs. To prepare for this growth, Metro and the city are making a number of transportation investments, including these transit upgrades to Third Avenue.

New ORCA readers (Summer and Fall 2019)

In July 2019 Metro began installing new ORCA card readers at future ORCA card reader locations on Third Avenue. New ORCA card readers will support all-door boarding, which began in March 2019. In addition to new ORCA card readers, Metro is also installing real-time arrival information signs.

Check out our map to see the locations for future ORCA card readers.

What to expect during construction

During construction, crews will work at two bus stops simultaneously, depending on their availability. Work at each bus stop will take about three to eight weeks to complete. During this time, crews will demolish existing sidewalk sections, dig and install new electrical lines, install ORCA card readers and replace the sidewalk.

Work hours

Crews expect to work at night and in the middle of the day to avoid impacting commute times. Crews are permitted to work on weekends. Typical work hours are:
  • Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 6 a.m.
  • On weekends crews will work from 7 p.m. on Friday to 6 a.m. on Monday

Other impacts

  • Bus stops will be closed during construction to help work move more quickly
  • Increased noise and dust near the work zone as crews demolish existing sidewalks
  • Temporary single lane closures on Third Avenue; one travel lane in both directions will be maintained on Third Avenue at all times
  • Loading zones may be temporarily closed during work hours
  • Sidewalks will need to be fully rebuilt on most blocks where new ORCA card readers are installed; construction could limit access to impacted buildings, and we will work directly with businesses and properties to minimize impacts and/or provide alternative access as needed
  • Full or partial blocks could be closed for periods of time outside of business hours

Do you own a property or business near a future ORCA card reader?

Property owners and tenants near impacted bus stops will be notified at least ten days before the start of construction about the planned schedule, detours, and other construction details.

If you have questions or concerns, please contact us by email, ThirdAve.Transit@Seattle.gov, or by phone, 206-477-7281.

New and moved bus stops (Summer 2019)

Metro will move one bus stop and add one bus stop to improve the flow of buses on Third Avenue.

  • The southbound stop between Jefferson and James streets will be moved one block north, to between James and Cherry streets.
  • Metro will also make sidewalk improvements on Third Ave between Columbia and Marion street for a future bus stop that will be installed in 2020.

See map

All-door boarding on Third Avenue (March 2019)

How to use all-door boarding on Third Avenue

As of March 23, 2019, you can pre-pay your fare with an ORCA card at bus stops along Third Avenue and board the bus using any door. At the 21 stops where ORCA card readers are installed, riders are able to tap their card, listen for the beep, and then board the bus at any door. At the 10 stops along Third Avenue where ORCA card readers are not yet installed, ORCA boarding assistants will be available during evening commute hours to help riders pay in advance before boarding. All-door boarding is available on Third Avenue between Yesler Way and Denny Way and on Westlake Avenue through the South Lake Union area.

View the all-door boarding brochure (PDF) for more information.

Proof of payment is required before or upon boarding a Metro bus. Fare enforcement officials may ask to see your valid ORCA pass or paper transfer while you are on the bus. If proof of payment is not provided, fare enforcement officials will issue you a warning or violation.

Need to resolve a fare violation?

Work complete…

Extended bus-only hours (August 2018)

In 2018, Third Avenue became a bus-only street from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day of the week. The bus-only restrictions are in place on Prefontaine Place and on Third Avenue between Yesler Way and Stewart Street. Bicycles are allowed on Third Avenue at all hours.

Drivers, including taxis and rideshares:

  • Cars will be allowed on Third Avenue, from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m., seven days a week.
  • No left turns off Third Avenue, 24/7.
  • You can cross Third Avenue going east-west, 24/7.
  • No on-street parking on Prefontaine Place, 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week.

Deliveries & commercial drivers:

  • Permitted commercial vehicles will be allowed to use Third Avenue, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 6 a.m., seven days a week.
  • No left turns off Third Avenue, 24/7.
  • You can cross Third Avenue going east-west, 24/7.

Changes in the future…

Transit-only signal coming to Third Avenue and Denny Way in March 2020

A new transit-only signal will allow buses to turn left from Third Avenue to Denny Way in order to improve speed and reliability for northbound routes.


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