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King County Metro is rolling out another set of service upgrades and changes on routes across the Seattle area and while relatively public transit-rich Capitol Hill mostly misses out on any direct upgrades, the changes will include a major step for transportation in Central Seattle — and better service to and from Capitol Hill Station for light rail riders.
It’s time for the end of the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel as we know it. In March, the DSTT begins its new life as a “rail only” conduit.
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“When King County opened the transit tunnel Sept. 15, 1990 for bus service, it was always envisioned as evolving into a joint operations facility and then transitioning over time to light rail service,” the Metro announcement of the service changes and tunnel transition reads. “Over the years as Sound Transit launched service and expanded frequency, several bus routes have shifted to surface streets. With upcoming Link light rail extensions and the construction underway to expand the Washington State Convention Center at the north end of the tunnel, it is time for all buses to permanently shift to surface streets.”
Metro and Sound Transit say the change will have immediate benefits for light rail riders, “enabling reliable six-minute peak hour headways, eliminating significant service disruptions that occur under joint operations.”
“Light rail service frequencies will increase in future years as the system expands,” officials promise.
Sound Transit also plans to build a second tunnel through downtown Seattle to prepare for extensions to Tacoma, West Seattle, Ballard, Everett, South Kirkland and Issaquah.
You can learn more about the Metro service changes and tunnel transition plans here.