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Together, routes 3 and 4 carry more than 11,000 riders each day. But they’re often stuck in traffic along James Street near the I-5 on-ramps. To make them faster and more reliable (on-time), we’re considering moving them off James Street to Yesler Way, Eighth Avenue, and Ninth Avenue (see map).

What’s new

We’re studying ways to make buses more reliable (on-time) and serve rider needs along James Street.

Why move the routes?

Faster, more reliable service

Routes 3 and 4 serve Seattle Pacific University, Queen Anne, downtown Seattle, First Hill, and Madrona (Route 3) or Judkins Park (Route 4). Together, they make up one of the highest-ridership services in Metro’s system. Most other routes with this many riders are RapidRide routes, or are slated to become RapidRide or Link light rail corridors by 2025.

Making routes 3 and 4 faster and more reliable is vital to ensuring that our riders are well connected to their communities and important destinations, including human services. Even though the proposed Yesler Way routing is almost a quarter-mile longer, it should result in fewer delays and in some cases, travel times up to four minutes shorter.

Better connections

Moving these routes would also provide better connections to jobs and services at Harborview Medical Center, and to housing at the Yesler Terrace community redevelopment that will include 5,000 homes (1,800 subsidized for residents with low and moderate incomes), neighborhood services, and nearly one million square feet of new retail and office space.

Public involvement

We got public feedback on this idea during summer 2017 to help us decide whether to pursue it. We heard from more than 1,300 people through our survey or by email and phone. We also met with community organizations and other stakeholders to get their perspectives.

Many people told us they support the idea to keep buses out of the congestion on James Street and improve their reliability. Many others had concerns about impacts the change could have on seniors and people with low incomes or disabilities who reach housing, social services, and government services from the stops on James Street between Third and Ninth avenues.

Read our outreach summary

Contact us

Tristan Cook
Community Relations Planner
Send Tristan an email
or call 206-477-3842

To stay informed about this project, sign up for Metro alerts (email or text updates) about Route 3 and/or Route 4.

Next steps

Many people asked us if it was possible to make changes on James Street that would improve the speed and reliability of routes 3 and 4 on their current routing. Metro will do a study to review options for improvements along the James Street pathway and see if any are cost-effective.

Because there was significant support for the idea of moving routes 3 and 4 to Yesler Way, Eighth Avenue, and Ninth Avenue to improve speed and reliability, we’re starting a preliminary design study to further explore the construction of electric trolley infrastructure on this pathway. This study will help identify costs and constraints associated with moving forward with the concept.

We heard concerns about the loss of service to stops on James Street at Fifth and Eighth avenues if routes 3 and 4 are moved to Yesler Way. Many seniors and people with low incomes or mobility challenges either live in this area or use health, social, or government services there, and this part of James Street is on a steep hill. Metro will explore the possibility of continuing to serve these stops with another route if routes 3 and 4 are moved to the Yesler corridor.

Depending on the findings of the James Street pathway study, we may hold another round of public outreach. To stay informed about this project, sign up for Metro alerts (email or text updates) about Route 3 and/or Route 4.


  • Collect input from the public and stakeholders on the proposal.
  • Metro begins studying several options to try to identify a solution that will meet the needs of our riders.
  • Study results help us determine whether to hold another round of public outreach for feedback on available options.
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