Transport of Seattle, Washington

Car traffic

Alaska Way Viaduct, a double-deck highway

According to findjobdescriptions, car traffic in Seattle is quite busy. US daily USA Today ranked Seattle eighth in 2013 among US cities with the busiest traffic. Nevertheless, the flow of car traffic in Seattle has gradually improved. For example, USA Today gave Seattle a “congestion score” of 17.6 in 2013 and 19.6 in 2012, with a lower number being better. Despite the population increase of more than 60,000 since 2000, the average number of cars on the road fell by about 4% between 2000 and 2011. The number of people using public transport increased by more than 28% between 2000 and 2011.

In Seattle, parking spaces are quite expensive. A one-month parking space in Seattle cost an average of $294 in 2012, making it the fifth most expensive parking city in the United States. There are also parking garages in Seattle, six of which participate in the “e-Park” launched in September 2010. This project provides signs that indicate how many parking spaces are available in a parking garage.

Bicycle traffic

Several bicycle paths run through Seattle and there are also bicycle paths along a number of major roads. On a 2012 list by, which featured the most bicycle-friendly U.S. cities, Seattle was ranked 10th. This is partly because Seattle is investing in its bicycle network. In four years, the Seattle Department of Transportation invested nearly $36 million in Seattle’s bicycle network. Seattle currently has 208 miles of off-road bike lanes and 158 miles of segregated bike lanes. There has also been investment in bicycle parking, and there are currently approximately 2,230 bicycle parking spaces in Seattle.

Taxi transport

There are few taxis in Seattle compared to other US cities. Major taxi companies in Seattle include: Orange Cab, Farwest Taxi, STITA Taxi, Graytop Cab, Green Cab, and Yellow Cab. Of these taxi companies, Yellow Cab has a total of 380 taxis, Orange Cab a total of 170 taxis and STITA Taxi more than 160 taxis. At STITA Taxi, part of the fleet consists of green taxis, including the Toyota Prius.


The opening of Seattle’s first railroad began on March 22, 1872, and several new railroads have been built since then.Currently, there are three railroad companies that own rails in Seattle. These are UP, BDTL and BNSF. There is one train station in Seattle. This is King Street Station and is located south of downtown. An intercity, called Amtrak Cascades, stops at that station, which goes from Vancouver to Eugene. Also, King Street Station is the beginning of the intercity, called Empire Builder, that goes to Chicagogo. In addition to the Empire Builder, an intercity, called Coast Starlight, will also start in Seattle, which will go to Los Angeles. These three intercity trains are operated by Amtrak, which runs on BNSF’s railroad. The BNSF route is also operated by two Sound Transit slow train lines. One slow train line starts in Everett and the other slow train line starts in Lakewood. Both lines terminate in Seattle.

In addition to the BNSF route, the UP route also runs through Seattle, which ends in Seattle. This route is intended to transport goods and has a maximum permitted weight of 158 tons. In addition, there is also the route of BDTL. This trajectory is very small and belonged to BNSF before 1997. BNSF found the track no longer lucrative enough and decided to get rid of it. The companies that were located on this railway bought the railway under the name BDTL. There is currently one train on the route. This is the EMD SW1.

Light rail

Lightrail van Sound Transit

On July 18, 2009, Sound Transit opened Seattle’s light rail, called Central Link light rail. This light rail is 25.1 km long and there are 13 stations on the light rail. This 25.1-kilometer light rail cost a total of $2.9 billion.The current light rail runs from the Westlake Center in Downtown to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Sound Transit will expand light rail in the north, east and south. This plan is called ST2 and the total cost is estimated at $12.1 billion. The extensions have a total length of approximately 58 kilometers. To the north, the light rail will be extended from the current West Center terminus to Lynnwood . This expansion will add around seven stations. The various new stations are scheduled to open between 2016 and 2023. The eastward expansion will extend from the International District Station in Seattle via Bellevue to Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond.. This expansion will add ten new stations, scheduled to open in 2023. The expansion to the south will add one new station and begin at Seattle Airport. The opening of this extension is planned for the end of 2016.


Monorail (2008)

On March 24, 1962, approximately one month before the start of the 1962 World ‘s Fair, Seattle presented its new monorail, construction of which had begun in April 1961. The monorail cost a total of $3.5 million to build. The monorail runs from the Seattle Center, of which the Space Needle is part, to the Westlake Center and is 1.9 kilometers long. The monorail has only a start and an end station and transports about two million passengers per year.


Waterfront Streetcar

The first horse-drawn streetcar line in Seattle was opened on September 23, 1884, but this line is no longer in use. Seattle’s oldest surviving streetcar line is the Waterfront Streetcar, which opened on May 29, 1982. This line had five streetcars at its peak. There were nine tram stops on the line, one of which has been demolished. The tram line was 2.6 kilometers long, but was extended 640 meters in 1990. The line runs from Chinatown to Waterfront Pier 70 and went out of service on November 18, 2005. When the tram will return to service is unknown.

There is currently one tram line in service. This is the South Lake Union Streetcar with a length of 4.2 kilometers. The streetcar line is owned by King County Metro and runs from the Westlake Center in Downtown to Fairview Ave N. There are 11 streetcar stops on the streetcar line. The South Lake Union Streetcar has been in operation since it opened on December 12, 2007.  In addition to this tram line, another tram line is being constructed. This is the First Hill Streetcar, which began construction in April 2012. This line has ten streetcar stops and runs from the Capitol Hill neighborhood to Pioneer Square in Downtown. The tram line will be approximately four kilometers long and is scheduled to open in 2014. An extension is also planned for this line, the Broadway Extension. This expansion includes a maximum of four extra tram stops. The opening of this extension is planned for 2016.

King County Metro plans to build additional streetcar lines.


Nearly 200 bus routes run through Seattle, about 15 of which are for trolley buses. Among these nearly 200 bus lines are three RapidRide bus lines, the last of which opened on February 14, 2014. A RapidRide bus line is a bus line, where buses come more often.  In downtown Seattle is the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel. This is a tunnel through which 16 bus lines run. There are five bus stops in the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel and the tunnel runs from the International District to Convention Place.

Seattle bus routes are operated by King County Metro.

Water taxis

The Seattle water taxi has two lines, the Vaston Route and the West Seattle Route. The Vashon Route goes from Pier 50 in Downtown to Vashon Island and the West Seattle Route goes from Pier 50 to Seacrest Park in Seattle. The water taxis are operated by King County Metro. In total there are three water taxis on the lines, one of which is a reserve.


Seattle has three airports, of which Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in SeaTac is by far the largest with more than 33.2 million passengers in 2012 and more than 300,000 flight movements in 2011. This airport has been managed by the Port of Seattle since it opened in 1944. Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is approximately 17.5 kilometers as the crow flies from Downtown and can be reached by car, taxi, light rail and bus.

The other two airports are Boeing Field and Kenmore Air Harbor Seaplane Base. Boeing Field is operated by King County and has an average of 200,000 aircraft movements per year. It is approximately 8.5 kilometers south of Downtown as the crow flies and is accessible by car, taxi and bus.  Kenmore Air Harbor Seaplane Base is a seaplane airport, which has Lake Union as its runway. This water airport is only used by Kenmore Air.


Seattle has the seventh largest port in the United States and is used exclusively for freight transport. Most passenger ships depart from one of the piers in Downtown. A cruise line is located on one of these piers. In 2012, just over 200 ships with over 900,000 passengers departed from this cruise line. The city also boasts two large marinas.

Transport of Seattle, Washington