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Proposed King County Metro legislation would expand late-night service

Getting around in the wee hours could get easier

Blurry photo of a Number 3 bus at night Happy Hour Photography/Shutterstock

Legislation to expand late-night and early-morning King County Metro service is heading to the King County Council. King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced a transportation package today that, if approved, would add thousands of service hours—and give far better options to people who need transit in the wee hours.

A color-coded transit map showing expansion to various routes to late-night
King County’s proposed night owl bus network
King County

Metro currently operates three Night Owl routes—the 82, 83, and 84—each looping around twice between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m., serving multiple neighborhoods on a long, meandering route. The new package would add service hours to familiar routes that run through those neighbors during regular service hours.

The City of Seattle would invest in additional overnight round trips on routes 3, 5, 11, 65, 67, 70, 44, and 48, while Metro would add about 2,000 more hours to routes 120 and 124. 124 would be expanded to SeaTac airport after 1 a.m., after Link Light Rail stops running. The package would also increase late-night RapidRide C, D, and E service to hourly. Metro has set up a minisite detailing the proposed changes to all affected routes.

Bus drivers would also get increased time for restroom breaks. In 2014, the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries dinged Metro for a collection of restroom issues so severe that many drivers resorted to adult diapers.

This would be great news for people who currently don’t have a safe way to get home from work or the airport or even just a night at a bar without shelling out the cash for a cab.

“Late-night mobility is critical for nightshift workers to support their families, for travelers on early-morning flights, and for those out enjoying Seattle's arts and music scene," Executive Constantine said in a press release.

In the same statement, Mayor Murray adds that the expansion is “particularly important for working families and people of color,” noting a rising cost of transportation in Seattle.

The package would cost an additional $730,000 on top of the $7.7 million that Metro and partners spend on service between midnight and 5 a.m. $500,000 of that new money would come from the City of Seattle.

The expansion is scheduled for a hearing in the King County Council Transportation, Economy, and Environment committee on March 7. If approved, it would head to the King County Council for a full vote.