Photographer's Note

View of the Pioneer Square station.

Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel

The Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel, also referred to as the Metro Bus Tunnel, is a 1.3-mile (2.1 km) public transit tunnel that runs the length of downtown Seattle, from 9th Avenue and Pike Street to 5th Avenue S. and S. Jackson Street. Approved by Metro Transit in 1983,construction began in 1987.It was completed and service began in 1990, at a total cost of $455 million.In May 2000, the King County Council transferred ownership to Sound Transit but ownership was transferred back to King County Metro in 2002.

The tunnel was closed on September 24, 2005 for modification to accommodate both buses and Sound Transit's Central Link light rail trains on a shared alignment. Prior to closure, around two dozen bus routes ran through the tunnel. The buses were dual-powered, using electricity in the tunnel from an above wire connection and diesel on city streets. It reopened on Monday, September 24, 2007.The two-year closure included retrofits for light rail as well as other operating system upgrades. Also, a stub tunnel, branching from the main tunnel, was constructed under Pine Street between 7th and Boren Avenues to allow light rail trains to stop and reverse direction and for future extension of Central Link.

Due to the conversion to light rail, the dual-mode buses that are powered by the above electric connection can no longer operate in the tunnel. Those buses have already been replaced by Metro's current new fleet of hybrid buses. While these buses produce significantly more emissions than electric trolley buses that use overhead wires, they produce fewer emissions than standard diesel buses, and require no connection to overhead wires.

Since the floor of the tunnel was lowered for the light rail, there have been concerns that the bus mirrors are now at head height and may strike those who are waiting on the platform. To prevent this, the mirrors are equipped with flashing lights. As well, the buses' speed limit as they approach and leave stations has been lowered from 15 miles per hour (24 km/h) to 10 miles per hour (16 km/h).

The tunnel is entirely within the Ride Free Area, so no fare is required on buses at any station during hours when the policy is in effect. Due to Sound Transit's different fare structure, fares are required on Central Link light rail trains.

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Additional Photos by Danos kounenis (danos) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 13196 W: 298 N: 26321] (105634)
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