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Buses officially booted out of transit tunnel Saturday

Starting Saturday, buses have officially been kicked out of the Seattle transit tunnel. The result: 830 daily trips will now flood the downtown area between 2nd and 6th Avenues.

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With the Seattle transit tunnel now the exclusive domain of Sound Transit for running more light rail service, roughly 18,000 daily riders will catch one of 15 separate routes moved to surface streets.

“Buses and trains have mixed fairly well, but now we’re at the point where there are just enough buses and just enough trains that they really can’t mix anymore going forward,” Metro’s director of service mobility Bill Bryant told KIRO Radio’s Chris Sullivan back in early-March.

The routes that have new boarding locations: 41, 74, 76, 77, 101, 102, 150, 255, 301, 308, 316, and 550.

Between this, the 12 Metro bus routes, and the 30,000 daily passengers that were sent to surface streets after the closure of the Alaskan Way Viaduct, things continue to get crowded in downtown Seattle.

To accommodate the influx of buses, the Seattle Department of Transportation installed and striped new bus-only lanes on 5th and 6th Avenues downtown. Those lanes are active between 3-7 p.m. weekdays.

Metro has also expanded the off-board program for buses on 3rd Avenue — you just tap your Orca card on the kiosk, and you can board from any door. The hope is that all-door boarding will speed things up on 3rd — the busiest transit-only street in the country.

This off-board program was also enacted on Westlake Avenue through South Lake Union.

This all comes as the next phase in what SDOT is labeling Seattle Squeeze, a five-year period of major transportation-related construction projects across the city, that kicked off in January with the closure of the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

If you’re planning a trip through the downtown corridor — or simply commuting to work — be sure to plan accordingly for increased volume.

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