New Link service to the University of Washington (UW) started March 19 and buses change March 26. But what does that mean for Bellevue commuters?
On Saturday, March 19, Sound Transit expanded to serve two new stations on Capitol Hill and at the University of Washington’s Husky Stadium. The two new University Link (U-Link) stations connects to existing Central Link that currently runs from Westlake in the downtown Seattle transit tunnel to SeaTac airport. During the first week of new U-Link service to Husky Stadium, use current bus service to connect with light rail. From Saturday, March 19 through Friday, March 25, commuters can use existing bus service to reach the Link stations.
One week later, on March 26, Metro’s spring service change will take effect. Metro produced a great interactive map that shows the Link light rail alignment, and another page that outlines the service changes route by route. There are no eastside buses that will see significant impacts with this service change; but if you travel on a local Seattle bus or if you connect to the Metro 271 or Sound Transit 555 to travel to Bellevue check your route here. The Metro 271 routes and times will remain the same.
We’ve listed some of the changes below, but remember that Choose Your Way Bellevue is here to help you navigate these changes and plan your trip. Contact us for a custom commute plan.
Call us: 425-990-3097
U-Link by the Numbers:
- Frequency: Trains will run the following schedule, always running at the very least every 15 minutes from 5:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. on weekdays & Saturdays; and from 6:00 a.m. – 12:00 a.m. on Sundays.
|5:00 a.m. – 6:00 a.m.||Every 15 minutes|
|6:00 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.||Every 6 minutes|
|8:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.||Every 10 minutes|
|3:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.||Every 6 minutes|
|6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.||Every 10 minutes|
|9:00 p.m. – 1:00 a.m.||Every 15 minutes|
- Fare: $2.25-$3.25 for a one-way adult trip depending how far you are traveling.
- ST 550 from downtown Bellevue to Pioneer Square: 32 minutes.
- Metro 271 from downtown Bellevue to Montlake: 26 minutes + transfer to Link: ~5 minutes, and Link to Pioneer Square: ~12 minutes = 43 minutes.
- For those who have relied solely on a ST 550 trip from downtown Bellevue across I-90 to reach downtown Seattle: With the new U-Link opening, consider a trip to downtown Seattle across SR-520 from Bellevue, using ST 555/556 in the peak periods, or Metro 271 then a 2 minute walk to transfer to the U-Link towards downtown Seattle.
- Link: 8 minutes from UW station to downtown Seattle (Westlake station).
- Link: 4 minutes from UW station to Capitol Hill; 4 minutes from Capitol Hill to downtown Seattle. Check out the station tour page for more info on the Capitol Hill station (between Broadway Ave E and 10th Ave E and just north of E Denny Way).
A Seattle tip: reminder that all downtown Seattle tunnel buses stop at every tunnel stop. So if you are trying to get to a specific downtown tunnel stop, every Seattle tunnel bus will get you there.
ORCA and transfers: Remember that you can transfer you fare from Link to a Sound Transit bus or a King County Metro bus with an ORCA card; paper transfers do not work between Sound Transit buses/ Link and Metro transit. Read more about orca cards and transfers at orcacard.com.
Summary of some of these U-Link-related services changes
While many bus routes on the Eastside aren’t changing, there will be new ways to connect to areas near the new light rail stations by bus. Metro is providing buses every 7 minutes most times of day to the Ave from the UW Link station.
Places like U Village, Seattle Children’s, and Magnuson Park will be served almost as frequently by bus from the Link light rail station. On Capitol Hill (4 minutes from downtown by light rail), people can get to 15th Avenue and Volunteer Park with buses coming every 10-15 minutes by the station. We encourage you to try to make bus-to-bus and link-to-bus connections for non-work related trips. The best way to try this will be us to Metro’s Online Trip Planner in early March with a date after March 26 when schedule and stop information will be fully loaded into the system.
Also, for a direct express across the lake from Redmond to the UW Link Station, the new ST Express route 541 will offer 48 new trips a week (weekdays, mostly in the peak) between Overlake in Redmond and UW Station, starting March 26.
Quick links to prepare for the changes
You can start preparing now by doing the following:
- Visit Sound Transit’s website to learn about the new Link service that will begin March 19.
- Visit for details on bus route changes, the planning process, and background information.
- Use current timetables to plan bus trips to Link light rail stations during the week of March 19-25.
- Use Metro’s Link Connections interactive map to start planning transit trips you’ll take on or after March 26.
- Consider available ORCA card options to make quick, easy transfers between Metro and Sound Transit Link light rail.
- Sign up for transit alerts for the routes that you ride.
–Choose Your Way Bellevue staffer Augusta