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More King County Metro service coming this fall—some paid for by Amazon

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Seattle area transit is getting a boost

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Bus service will be more frequent starting this fall. This is partially thanks to changes in the way Seattle funds King County’s bus service—and partially thanks to an investment from Amazon.

Starting in September, King County Metro Transit will see an additional 88,000 service hours on more than 50 bus routes. Much of this change comes directly from Metro. But earlier this summer, the Seattle City Council voted to allow more bus routes to benefit from Seattle Transportation Benefit District (STBD) funds, which come from a voter-approved sales-tax increase and car-tab fee—adding 20,000 Seattle-funded service hours on top of 270,000 already paid for by the fee.

The funding change means expanded service on 12 routes, Rapidride C, D, and E, plus routes 7, 8, 41, 17, 18, 40, 56, 70, and 106—adding more than 50 weekday trips for 4,000 more boardings.

In addition, 12,000 service hours come from a private investment from Amazon, which funds 22 additional trips each weekday for two years for buses that bring commuters to South Lake Union, including on the Rapidride E and C lines, plus routes 8, 40, 62, and 63.

All the investment in the Rapidride E means the line will—theoretically—come every 10 minutes or less from the early morning to mid-evening, as opposed to between 4 and 13 minutes now, with improved frequency even during peak hours when timing was already more frequent. According to Metro, the E is the agency’s most popular commuter line, with more than 17,000 riders each weekday.

The investment comes soon after the city council rejected a pilot program that would have allowed funding for private vans and buses. Amazon has tried privately operated shuttles in the past.

While Amazon’s investment in Seattle transit is big, it’s not the first company to invest in King County Metro. Microsoft, along with the cities of Redmond, Sammamish, and Issaquah, has an agreement with Metro to fund 9,000 hours of bus service each year— although Metro shoulders the majority of the cost in that partnership.

This article has been updated for clarity around 22 weekday trips.