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Metro Testing Faster Commute Service from Seattle to Issaquah Highlands

Starting Oct. 15, bus Route 218 will no longer serve the eastbound Eastgate Freeway Station during the afternoon commute as King County Metro Transit seeks to reduce overcrowding on the route.

To ease overcrowding on buses from downtown Seattle to the Issaquah Highlands, afternoon Route 218 buses will no longer serve the Eastgate Freeway Station in Bellevue as of Oct. 15.

The decision by King County Metro Transit is an interim step to better provide space for riders heading farther east to Issaquah on Route 218, which provides 15 trips during the afternoon commute. Riders heading to Eastgate Park and Ride in Bellevue can instead use alternate service on Second Avenue in downtown Seattle, where Metro routes 212 and 215 and Sound Transit Express Route 554 provide 39 afternoon trips – about twice as much service to Eastgate.

Morning Route 218 buses to Seattle will continue to serve the westbound Eastgate Freeway Station, located at 142nd Place Southeast on Interstate 90.

Afternoon riders heading to Issaquah Highlands from Eastgate can ride Metro route 211 or Sound Transit Express routes 554 and 556.

Metro has heard concerns of crowded afternoon buses on Route 218 for several years and took new steps on Sept. 29 to address the problem. To decrease the competition over space on Route 218, Metro reduced the number of Route 218 trips, added trips to Eastgate-bound Route 212 and moved that route out of the downtown Seattle transit tunnel to Second Avenue, locating it with other similar Eastgate-bound service.

Despite the Sept. 29 service revision, many riders heading to Eastgate have continued to use the Routes 216 and 218 buses in the downtown Seattle transit tunnel, forcing some riders to be passed by full buses and further frustrating riders heading to Issaquah Highlands. Additionally, Metro is observing increased ridership on a number of routes.

Bypassing the Eastgate Freeway Station is an interim move as Metro planners further assess ways to best serve all transit customers, provide the best transit connections and assure smooth tunnel operations. Planners will monitor and evaluate ridership and service on I-90 corridor routes, and work to balance the operations of buses and trains in the downtown Seattle transit tunnel. Future options could include moving the Route 218 out of the transit tunnel and moving all Interstate 90-based routes to surface operations on Second and Fourth avenues, at which time all I-90 bus routes might again serve the Eastgate Freeway Station.

Metro will consider rider feedback on this interim change to Route 218 service. Send email to customer.comments@kingcounty.gov or call 206-553-3000.

Transit service details

Eastgate service: Metro routes 212 and 215, and Sound Transit Route 554 have 39 eastbound trips weekdays from 2:45-7:15 p.m. along Second Avenue in Seattle.

Issaquah Highlands/Sammamish service: Metro Routes 216 and 218 have 21 trips on weekdays from 3:30-7 p.m. from the downtown Seattle transit tunnel.

Rider note: Rider alerts and announcements will be posted starting Monday, Oct. 8, notifying riders of this upcoming change. Riders who mistakenly board Route 218 in an attempt to reach Eastgate Freeway Station Oct. 15 or after will be notified by bus operators that they can exit at the Rainier Freeway Station on I-90 and instead board Metro routes 211, 212 or 215, or ST Express Route 554 to reach the Eastgate Freeway Station.

Metro Transit tools for riders

Information about Metro Transit services is online at metro.kingcounty.gov. Follow us on Twitter via @kcmetrobus.

--Information from King County Metro Transit

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