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Third Ave improvements - Programs & Projects

Third Avenue Improvements

Metro and the Seattle Department of Transportation are making transit upgrades to Third Avenue. These changes are designed to provide easy transit connections and keep buses running on time.

Third Avenue is not only Seattle’s most heavily-used transit corridor; it’s also regarded as the busiest transit corridor in North America. Prior to the pandemic, Third Avenue was traveled by more than 2,500 buses, carrying 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 have made a number of transit upgrades to the corridor, including:

  • Shifting Third Avenue to a bus-only street between Stewart Street and Yesler Way from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day of the week
  • Installing real-time arrival information signs and new ORCA card readers that allow passengers to pay fares at the bus stop while waiting for the bus to arrive
  • Making sidewalk improvements on Third Avenue between Columbia and Marion Street to accommodate a new bus stop at Marion Street
  • Moving a southbound stop between Jefferson and James streets one block north, between James and Cherry streets
  • Launching all-door boarding along the entire Third Avenue corridor to speed up boarding and reduce bus dwell time

Additional transportation investments in Third Avenue are planned for September 2021 and will continue through 2023.

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All-door boarding on Third Avenue

How to use all-door boarding on Third Avenue

You can now pre-pay your fare with an ORCA card at bus stops along Third Avenue and board the bus using any door. Using the ORCA card reader at the bus stop, riders can tap their card, listen for the beep, and then board the bus when it arrives. 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.

Changes in the future…

Transit-only signal coming to Third Avenue and Denny Way in September 2021.

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. Once completed, most routes traveling north on Third Avenue to Queen Anne, Interbay, Magnolia, and Ballard will use the new pathway. Route 1 will maintain its existing northbound pathway, traveling northbound via Broad Street and 1st Avenue in Belltown. Construction begins in March 2021. Read more on the city’s project page.

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