VIDEO: Columbia Street Transit Pathway’s pre-opening celebration

(WSB photos/video)

It was a ribbon-cutting without a ribbon. It did, however, have ribbons of red paint – newly marked bus lanes. The about-to-open Columbia Street 2-Way Transit Pathway were commemorated this afternoon with a round of celebratory speeches from elected and appointed officials who arrived via a RapidRide bus marked “SPECIAL.”

Mayor Jenny Durkan, County Executive Dow Constantine, County Councilmember Joe McDermott, Metro General Manager Rob Gannon, and Washington State Ferries boss Amy Scarton all took a spin at the microphone to hail the planned opening this Saturday (February 22) of the new corridor for buses to and from West Seattle and beyond.

No new information, but plenty of reminders that this will connect transportation modes more closely than before, with buses stopping conveniently close to the downtown dock where car and passenger ferries bring thousands each day. Here’s the map:

While this is the “permanent” route for the routes listed, there will be another big change when Alaskan Way is fully widened. That’s part of the city’s waterfront program, which the mayor hailed in her remarks, along with noting that there will be “many ribboncuttings we’re going to do down here” – which is when we realized, the event was more a ribbonless dedication than anything else. Here’s our video of everyone who took a turn at the microphone:

Since the mayor mentioned the extra bus hours paid for by the Transportation Benefit District taxes that are expiring this year, we asked about reports that a county version will be proposed. Constantine replied that discussions are under way with the county and its three-dozen-plus cities, and that we can expect a decision within a few weeks. But first – a new pathway for the buses that are funded now. Metro GM Gannon observed, “This doesn’t look like a transit hub, but it’s going to be.”

20 Replies to "VIDEO: Columbia Street Transit Pathway's pre-opening celebration"

  • Kyle February 19, 2020 (9:53 pm)

    Hard to tell from the photo, but does the 125 loop in the opposite direction now? It was nice in the afternoons to catch either the 120/125 at 3rd and Columbia towards West Seattle. Now it looks like the 125 towards West Seattle stop will be on 2nd Ave, unrelated to the 120. Also why does the 125 have to loop anyways? Just make it go out of service and then head back down 3rd like the 120 or C-line.

    • AMD February 20, 2020 (8:24 am)

      It took me a while to figure it out too.  The only place it’s clear is on the signs Metro posted on the downtown bus stops.  The 125 will turn East on Columbia to 3rd Ave. where it will make stops at 3rd & Marion and (if I read it correctly) 3rd & Seneca.  Where it turns around it still a bit of a mystery but heading back south to West Seattle, it will run along 2nd Avenue back to Columbia making stops at 2nd & Pike/Union and 2nd & Marion before turning onto Columbia and getting onto 99.  I have my own opinions on the loop thing (OneBusAway CANNOT figure out where it is on its run downtown, for example).  It used to be connected to the 11, but they disconnected the two runs so the 11 could run more frequently and with bigger buses and (in theory) improve on-time performance of both.  But without a connecting route, the driver would be taking a break like every 30-45 minutes and we can’t have that so it loops.  This particular run has gone through so many iterations over the years; it’s always felt like it’s one change away from being a really decent bus route.

      • miws February 20, 2020 (10:24 am)

        AMD’s interpretation of the new routing for the 125 is the same as mine. —Mike

  • Craig February 20, 2020 (5:54 am)

    Love the new Western ave and Alaska way stops.  

  • NW February 20, 2020 (6:32 am)

    Great accomplishment for our transit system and will reach out here to the community anyone interested in starting a West Seattle Transit Group specific to transit?

    • Jon Wright February 20, 2020 (11:13 am)

      Personally, I’m partial to the West Seattle Transportation Coalition ( I don’t have any first-hand experience with them, but the Transit Riders Union ( is out there, too.

      • NW February 20, 2020 (5:15 pm)

        I am aware of them and will see about getting involved reaching out, I’m interested in reaching out to people who are bus transit enthusiasts talk bus routes and talk with and hear from potentially bus drivers I think it would be very interesting hearing from them and appreciating them far more than we seem to. 

    • West Seattle Transportation Coalition February 20, 2020 (11:26 am)

      Come check out the West Seattle Transportation Coalition. We meet monthly on the 4th Thursday at High Point Neighborhood House. We’re currently planning future meetings with guests talking about Light Rail station area planning and Rapid Ride expansion on Delridge.

    • Michael Taylor-Judd February 20, 2020 (11:29 am)

      Come check out the West Seattle Transportation Coalition. We meet the 4th Thursday of the month at High Point Neighborhood House. Upcoming meetings will look at light rail station area planning by the City and updates on the Rapid Ride expansion on Delridge. INfo below — and we’re also on Facebook:

  • Olivia February 20, 2020 (8:05 am)

    I am SO excited for this to be open!! My hopes are high for a smoother commute. Thanks for the thorough reporting, as always, WSB.

  • ktrapp February 20, 2020 (9:00 am)

    Couldn’t come soon enough!  Last night there was a good 30-45 minute delay getting out of downtown, thanks to I-90 being backed up.  The backup extended all the way to the turn from 3rd on to Columbia.  Had the new route been open, we would have zipped by it.

  • KayK February 20, 2020 (9:01 am)

    Agreeing with Kyle that this re-route of the 125 will effectively diminish service frequency choices to the east ridge of West Seattle/ Delridge/ Highland Park. Please contact Metro and request the loop stay up on 3rd!!

    • Jim P. February 21, 2020 (1:44 pm)

      Keep in mind, before they did all this mucking about, the 125 went up 1st street with a stop by the Art museum then looped over to 3rd north of Pine and came down to stop at Pike, Seneca and Columbia. So it’s *sort of* back to what it was.

      And prior to *that* it went east on Pine and down to White Center, if my memory serves me and did not stop at Westwood at all so it’s been through more changes than an incontinent infant. ;)

  • Matt P February 20, 2020 (9:22 am)

    Yesterday was really bad getting down 2nd ave extension and 4th by the stadiums, so this should cut out all those days like that and the days where the bus gets stopped by the train.  I’m anticipating unforeseen backups on Alaskan Way once all this starts though.  Hopefully I’m wrong.

  • JayDee February 20, 2020 (11:47 am)

    Routing buses through Pioneer Square is an unmitigated disaster. That part of the City was built on wood shavings and anything else they could get.  Needless to say routing a fully loaded bus through there is a very rough ride. And with the constant stopping and starting in traffic played hell with my back.  Not to mention what happened  with a single accident anywhere along the route.  

  • Al February 20, 2020 (11:52 am)

    Well done dow

  • Fan February 20, 2020 (1:20 pm)

    Thank you!  So happy.  I am so glad this day has finally come! One new unrelated wish but it happens near the Ferry… can we crack down on Uber/Lyft drivers that stop suddenly in the driving lane to pick up their fares?  I was at the Waterfront this weekend and witnessed this several times. My out of town guests state that Chicago has cracked down on idling in traffic lanes for picking up and dropping off rideshares. Not against Uber but wish they would pull over!

    • KM February 20, 2020 (8:21 pm)

      One of the many problems with rideshare is that the passengers rate the drivers, and the drivers want good ratings, so they’re motivated to drop/pick up passengers wherever is requested even if there is no place to pull over, to protect their ratings. So, without enforced rules around rideshare drop-off/pick + passengers putting themselves first + lack of enough dedicated loading zones, we have cars dropping off passengers in the road, blocking crosswalks, parking in bike lanes. Uber and Lyft have done a lot to increase congestion and reduce safety in cities, despite their claims to the contrary.

  • Flush February 20, 2020 (10:59 pm)

    This is so long over due! The ‘Special’ bus is ‘Special’. It looks cleaner than any bus I have ever been on. Can’t they just dispense with the  formalities and politician PR photo ops and just get this open and buses moving?  Wonder how much this ‘ribbonless dedication’ cost the us hardworking tax payers? 

  • Aerial Observer February 24, 2020 (2:52 pm)

    We rode the RapidRide C line from downtown to Alaska Junction on Saturday, and to downtown this morning. The first trip had no stadium traffic, and today we sailed right up into downtown, saving five minutes at the very least. Not slogging through Pioneer Square/SODO on the westbound trip was delightful!

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