Open House provides look at early planning for Eastside rail-bus connections

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Agencies will focus on creating efficiencies and excellent service by integrating congestion-free light rail with Eastside bus routes

An Aug. 12 open house offered by Sound Transit and King County Metro Transit will provide residents with a look at the direction Eastside transit service is heading with the 2023 opening of the East Link light rail extension. Under planning now getting started, riders of many bus routes that use I-90 increasingly congested Lake Washington crossing will move onto fast and frequent rail service.  

Decisions on specific bus routes remain years in the future, but the agencies are increasing joint planning and integration under an initiative from King County Executive and Sound Transit Board Chair Dow Constantine.  

"Through continuous innovation we will create greater operating efficiencies and help expand service by getting the most frequent, rapid and reliable service for every transit dollar," said Constantine.  

The open house will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 12 at the Issaquah Hilton Garden Inn, 1800 N.W. Gilman Blvd., Issaquah. A presentation will begin at 7 p.m. Attendees can learn about upcoming planning for bus-rail integration and provide input on their priorities.

Bus and light rail service will connect at regional transit hubs, including the Mercer Island and South Bellevue stations, and bus routes will no longer have to complete the congested I-90 crossing. The stations, now in the final design process, are being planned with focus on easy transfers between trains and buses.  

With the region's population rising, East Link will create a congestion-free transit connection between King County's biggest population and employment centers. Time spent transferring will be offset by the fact Link will bypass I-90 traffic, offering highly reliable service every eight minutes during peak commute hours. Travel times to or from Downtown Seattle's International District Station are 10 minutes for Mercer Island and 14 minutes for South Bellevue. In addition to avoiding rising I-90 congestion, riders will also avoid rising bus travel times in downtown Seattle.  

The open house will provide:

  • Information about the goals and planning processes over the coming years that will shape future transit service
  • Updates on the final design process and future construction of East Link light rail
  • Information on design objectives for the Mercer Island and South Bellevue light rail stations that will facilitate transfers between trains and buses