COUNTDOWN: Free Waterfront Shuttle expanding hours for viaduct-to-tunnel transition, and beyond

(Photo courtesy Free Waterfront Shuttle)

We’re now one week away from the Alaskan Way Viaduct’s permanent closure. In case that wasn’t already top-of-mind, local transportation managers have been offering daily briefings and announcements to keep it there. Today: Expanded hours for the Free Waterfront Shuttle that’s been available downtown since summer, potentially making it useful to some Water Taxi riders. Here’s the announcement:

The Free Waterfront Shuttle is expanding operating hours to better serve morning commuters.

Currently operating 7 days a week from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., the shuttle will add morning service to its North/South loop weekdays starting at 6 a.m. The expanded hours of operation will begin on Monday, January 7.

This service will provide a viable option to move commuters, tourists and residents through downtown at peak commute times during the upcoming SR 99 viaduct closure. The free service is brought to you by the WSDOT-funded and managed by Commute Seattle and the Downtown Seattle Association.

Additionally, all shuttles are now equipped with real-time arrival information that can be found online along with other shuttle information at

The Free Waterfront Shuttle service launched in July 2018, and has given over 90,000 free rides to downtown, Pioneer Square, and the historic waterfront. Tourists and locals have embraced this free service as a way to get to and from the waterfront. Adding early morning operational hours makes the shuttle a viable commuter option during the upcoming months of viaduct closure and removal. The North/South Loop will connect Chinatown/International District, Link Station, King Street Station, Ferry Terminal, and Seattle Center to different locations along the waterfront from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays. The shuttle will continue to operate on Saturday, Sunday and holidays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

“Visitors and residents love the free shuttle, and we’re thrilled to expand the service. We worked diligently with public and private partners to increase the operating hours that will provide more access to our vibrant downtown and historic waterfront,” said Downtown Seattle Association President & CEO Jon Scholes. “Expanding hours during peak commute times will provide another option to help move through our city during the viaduct closure.”

Additionally, real-time arrival data displays precise shuttle location allowing riders to know exactly when their shuttle should arrive at 15 stops along two routes throughout downtown Seattle. The app and mobile site will display exact shuttle location and approximate arrival time. Real-time arrival maps can be viewed online or by downloading the free DoubleMap mobile app for Apple and Google Play devices. Once downloaded, select the Waterfront Shuttle route option.

“Nearly 90 percent of riders say they are spending more time on the Waterfront and other area destinations because of the shuttle—which arrives every 15-20 minutes,” said Jonathan Hopkins, Executive Director of Commute Seattle. “Now traveling to and from the waterfront is even easier for commuters and visitors with longer hours of service and real-time information. We are working to make this experience a breeze.”

The shuttle offers two routes, North/South Loop and East Loop, linking the downtown core with the waterfront businesses and Pioneer Square.

Here’s a map of its stops.

19 Replies to "COUNTDOWN: Free Waterfront Shuttle expanding hours for viaduct-to-tunnel transition, and beyond"

  • JCW January 4, 2019 (6:46 pm)

    This is great! I’d been eyeing the Water Taxi for my commute this month, but finding connections to Seattle Center was tricky on transit. This is exactly what was missing! They should advertise this for commuters, in addition to tourists!

  • Jenn January 4, 2019 (7:09 pm)

    Too bad nothing is being done to help those of us crossing the bridge to I 90.  Guess we sit home and stare out the window

  • Nw mama January 4, 2019 (7:40 pm)

    Awesome!  I was just telling my kids it would be awhile before we could got to the pacific science center or a SCT play until the viaduct project was completed.  Guess I’m wrong- Woohoo! 

  • 1994 January 4, 2019 (7:41 pm)

    The free service is brought to you by the WSDOT-funded …..then it really is not free – right?

    • WSB January 4, 2019 (8:18 pm)

      Everything is paid for by someone somewhere in some way. However, “free” is a commonly understood term for “admission/fare/whatever not charged,” so we’ll continue using it. In this case, it’s actually part of the official name of the service. – TR

      • Rick January 5, 2019 (9:19 am)

        As long as everything is “free to me”. 

  • HS January 4, 2019 (8:11 pm)

    Is there anyplace that allows you to plan travel with all transit options? I have the trip planner app but that doesn’t include the water taxi or light rail. There must be something out there that I’m missing.

    • KBear January 5, 2019 (10:29 am)

      Metro’s Trip Planner app includes both light rail and water taxi. 

      • HS January 5, 2019 (7:04 pm)

        Thank you. I’ll revisit it.

  • Sam-c January 4, 2019 (8:26 pm)

    Is the water taxi going to run during weekends during the viaduct closure?

    • WSB January 4, 2019 (8:29 pm)

      No. Except for the “celebration weekend” Feb. 2-3.

      • Sam-c January 4, 2019 (8:35 pm)

        Well, that’s dumb

        • Kate January 5, 2019 (11:08 am)

          It really is! And your 1-word declarative statement made me chuckle this morning. Thank you.

  • EB January 5, 2019 (9:09 am)

    Are there plans to offer the east link shuttle in the morning as well? 

  • Yumpears January 5, 2019 (9:18 am)

    Anyone know if the water taxi will be adding more runs?

  • Stephanie January 7, 2019 (4:42 pm)

    Does anyone know if the Water Taxi shuttles (routes 773 & 775) will be using bigger coaches during the transition? I feel like I might have read that somewhere once, but haven’t seen anything lately about them doing so.I’m worried about the shuttles filling up and having to pass me by at the stop in the morning. 

  • Linda Kaye January 13, 2019 (9:56 pm)

    I’m interested in the waterfront shuttle once you get downtown. If I work on 4th and Pine would it get me to that location? Which one of the shuttles would I take (the north loop or east loop)? 

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