Metro seeks public input on expanding late-night bus service

King County Metro Transit is planning to improve and expand “Night Owl” bus service next year for late-night riders, and is seeking public input on a proposal that would offer new transit options for those getting to or from jobs, the airport and nightlife between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m.

Currently, Metro has about 40 routes with some level of late-night service throughout King County. Of these, 20 provide trips after 2 a.m., including three Night Owl routes that loop through some Seattle neighborhoods only between 2:15 a.m. and 4:30 a.m.

The City of Seattle contributes funding to late-night transit operation and is a partner in this effort. Metro’s draft proposal would replace the three Night Owl routes with late-night service on regular, all-day routes that serve the same areas.

The draft proposal also includes new after-hours bus service to Sea-Tac Airport for travelers and workers, for whom there currently are limited options after 1 a.m.

It also includes hourly all-night service on the RapidRide C, D, and E Lines, which currently operate all night but with less than hourly frequencies.

“As Seattle grows, so does demand for safe and reliable transit at all hours,” said Metro’s Interim General Manager Rob Gannon. “This proposal will help Metro better meet the needs of our changing and growing ridership by making the first significant changes to Night Owl bus service in more than 40 years.”

The public is encouraged to review the proposal and offer comments via an online survey before October 30.

The proposal would make several changes, including:

  • Replace current Night Owl routes 82, 83, and 84 with two late-night round trips – around 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. — to each of the following routes: 3, 5, 11, 70, 62 and 120.
  • Extend Route 124 all the way to Sea-Tac Airport after 1 a.m.
  • Improve late-night transfer connections between buses in downtown Seattle.

Current Night Owl routes do not match daytime routes, which some riders find confusing. To improve awareness of late-night bus service, Metro will work to improve customer information related to late-night service options.

Public comments will help shape a final proposal, which could go before the County Council later this year. If approved, it will take effect in September 2017.


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