Getting Transit Directions In and Around Seattle

You can find specific point-to-point transit directions using either the Sound Transit Trip Planner, official Metro Trip Planner or TripGo . All of them are excellent and provide accurate information, but only TripGo provides multi-modal transport options, combining public and private modes to give you the most suitable plans depending on your priorities (budget or convenience). 

Obviously Google Maps is always a good choice, use Google Maps and enter "[Your starting point] to [Your destination]" and click the search button. You can also use names of places for your start and end points. For example, you can type in "Pike Place Market to La Rustica" and get directions from The Pike Place Market to the restaurant called "La Rustica" in West Seattle. After you click search, you will see driving directions between your two points. To get transit directions, look to the left-hand side of the screen for a bar of icons that include a car, a bus, a person, and a bicyclist (as shown below).

Google Maps Bar 

Click on the bus and Google Maps will provide you transit direction from point A to B. 

Bike Sharing in Seattle

Seattle has implemented a Bike Share program called Pronto which is a great service to visitors who wouldn't mind commuting from one location to another.  There are bike 'stations' throughout downtown making it easy to hop on a bike and ride to another location and leave the bike there.  There is a 24hr or a 3 day membership at nominal cost.  Helmets are also available.  Great way to avoid parking in downtown as well.  Here is the link:

Types of Transit in Seattle 

Link Light Rail/Sound Transit

Beginning on March 19, 2016, the Central Link extension to the University of Washington (U Link) will open, extending service from Westlake Station to Capitol Hill and the University of Washington, near Husky Stadium.

Beginning sometime late in 2016 (date to be determined), the Central Link extension to Angle Lake (S 200th Link) will open, extending service from SeaTac International Airport south to Angle Lake. 

Fare information for Central Link can be found here. Children under 18 are $1.25, one-way on the Central Link.

ORCA Card,  cash, and credit card are accepted as payment. Paper transfers issued by Metro are not valid on Link light rail. If paying with cash, purchase your ticket on the platform before boarding at a ticket vending machine. You can also purchase an ORCA card at these vending machines. If you use an ORCA card, tap at the station when you get on and then tap again at your destination station. Adult fares range from $2.00 to $2.75 depending on how far you travel.


Bus route 99 is a transit bus that goes from the Chinatown/International District and Pioneer Square north up 1st Ave to Broad Street. Getting off near Broad street will allow you to walk  a few blocks to the space needle. It goes west on Broad St giving you a chance to visit the Olympic Sculpture Garden and the waterfront. While seawall reconstruction is underway along the waterfront, the bus no longer travels Alaskan Way, rather it loops back to 1st Ave. and heads south past the Pike Place Market to the Pioneer Square and Chinatown/International District areas. It is very convenient for visiting the Klondike Gold Rush Museum or to go to the Underground Tours in Pioneer Square.

If you travel between the City of Seattle and suburban King County (outside Seattle city limits), then you pay a "two zone" fare of $2.50 off peak and $3.25 peak. If you travel only within suburban King County and do not enter the city, then you also pay only the single zone fare of $2.50 off peak/$2.75 peak.

Alert: NE Seattle bus routes underwent a major restructure on Saturday, March 26, 2016.  Please use the Trip Planner or Google Maps to check your bus routes if you had planned to use buses in neighborhoods of NE Seattle during your trip.  The new routes are designed to work in conjunction with the new extension of Link Light Rail, which had opened a week earlier.


Fare information can be found here. The monorail does not accept ORCA cards or credit cards for fare payment.  

Seattle Streetcar - South Lake Union Line

The Seattle Streetcar - South Lake Union Line is a 2.6 mile route that runs from Westlake Center to the South Lake Union Neighborhood. This is a good option for travel to of from hotels in the South Lake Union area, the new Lake Union Waterfront Park, the Center for Wooden Boats or the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center with convenient transfers to and from Link Light Rail and the Monorail.

The Seattle Streetcar - First Hill Line is a 2.5 mile route that runs from the Pioneer Square area, past King Street Station, through International District, to Capitol Hill Station.  This is a good option for travel to dining destinations in Capitol Hill and International District, with convenient transfers to and from Link Light Rail, Amtrak, and Sounder Commuter Rail.

Fare information can be found here. ORCA Card or cash is accepted as payment. Paper transfers issued by Metro are valid on the Seattle Streetcar.


Sounder Train/Sound Transit

The Sounder trains travel between Tacoma and Seattle (making stops in Puyallup, Sumner, Auburn, Kent and Tukwila) and between Everett and Seattle (making stops in Mukilteo and Edmonds).  Sounder regularly runs weekday mornings and afternoons only.  Sounder also serves select major weekend events such as Mariners and Seahawks games.  Adult fares are between $2.75 and $4.75 depending on how far you travel.

Fare information can be found here. ORCA Card and cash are accepted as payment. Paper transfers issued by Metro are not valid on Sound Transit, including the Sounder Train.


Washington State Ferries

Fare information for the Washington State Ferries can be found here. Passenger fares are only collected westbound (from Seattle). Car fares are collected both directions. ORCA Card, cash, and credit cards are accepted as payment. Paper transfers issued by Metro are not valid on the Washington State Ferries. For specific routes, please see:


Water Taxi 

King County Water Taxi operates passenger ferries to West Seattle and Vashon Island from downtown, leaving from pier 50 just south of the State ferry dock at the end of Yesler Way. 

Fare information for the King County Water Taci can be found here. ORCA Card, Cash, and credit cards are accepted as payment. Using the ORCA card grants you discount on your fare. Paper transfers issued by Metro are not valid on the Water Taxi. Credit cards can only be used with the onshore ticket vending machine, and not on-board.


Transit Outside Seattle 

Traveling outside of downtown Seattle? Not a problem. Plan your trip online with a regional trip planner.  Just type in your location within King, Pierce or Snohomish counties and your destination. The trip planner will give you several options for getting there. Google Maps can also provide directions.  


Paying Your Fare on Transit in Seattle


Cash is accepted throughout the public transit system and by the Seattle Monorail. Exact change is required for buses. On Metro buses, you will also recieve a paper transfer (see below), which is valid only on Metro buses and the Seattle Streetcar from until the time shown on the transfer that day. The transfer is not accepted on Sound Transit, Washington State Ferries, the Water Taxi, or the Monorail. For specific fare information, see each section above.


ORCA Card 

The ORCA Card is a credit-card size transit pass that is accepted by all public transit agencies in the region, except for the monorail. It can either be loaded with a pass, such as a monthly pass, or loaded with an E-purse that can be used to pay the regular cash fare. The card costs $5 and can be purchased most conveniently at any Link light rail or Sounder station ticket vending machine. You may also purchase single trip tickets for both Link light rail and Sounder from ticket vending machines located in all rail stations. The primary advantage with the ORCA Card is the ability to transfer for free between Sound Transit and Metro services, which may or may not be to your advantage.

Generally, unless you plan to use Sound Transit buses or the Link light rail regularly during your visit, you will not need an ORCA card. 


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