Seattle is well-known for its stunning geography, lush greenery giving it the name of Emerald City, and its iconic Space Needle. Whether you live in Seattle or are considering a move or vacation there, the good news is there are so many Seattle transportation options. In fact, it was ranked eighth in the top 10 best public transportation options in the U.S. We’re breaking down your guide on how to get around Seattle.
Most common Seattle transportation options
When it comes to how to get around Seattle, there is no shortage of options. These options include Seattle public transportation and other options as well. Let’s dive into some of the most common Seattle transportation options that can get you around the city.
King County Metro Transit bus service
One of the most prominent Seattle public transportation options is the King County Metro Transit bus service which goes through downtown and surrounding areas.
Bus fare costs between $2.75 to $3.25 for adults and you can download the mobile app to make transit even easier and more seamless.
To get more information and plan your trip, you can use the King County Trip Planner. You can also get an ORCA Card, which costs $5 and can be used on multiple Seattle public transportation options like this bus service, light rail, and more.
The Sound Transit Link Light Rail
The Sound Transit Link Light Rail is another popular Seattle public transportation option, going through downtown for commuters, to the University of Washington for students and SEA-TAC airport for travelers. The light rail comes fairly frequently, about every six, 10, or 15 minutes based on the time of day, according to KingCounty.gov data.
On top of that, most days you can use the Link Light Rail starting in the early morning, beginning at 5am up until 1am, to accommodate various schedules. However, on Sundays and holidays, you lose an hour on the front and back end, with light rail hours starting at 6am and going to midnight.
Expect to pay between $2.25 to $3.50, which will vary depending on the distance you travel. You can pay using the Transit GO Ticket mobile app, your ORCA card, or a ticket from a light rail station.
On top of the more traditional bus and light rail options, there are also Seattle streetcars that you can take when getting around Seattle. Fun fact, Seattle’s first electric streetcars hit the city stage in 1889.
According to KingCounty.gov, there are two active Seattle public transportation streetcar options:
The city was in the process of building the Center City Connector but has been on hold due to lack of ridership and funds, due to COVID.
The First Hill Line connects bustling neighborhoods like Capitol Hill, the International District, and Pioneer Square, and more. You can take this line between 5am and 10:30pm during the week, 6am to 10:30pm on Saturday, as well as 10am to 8pm on Sundays and holidays. The First Line streetcar comes every 12 to 25 minutes, depending on the time of the day.
The South Lake Union line offers another transportation option from the South Lake Union area to downtown. This line is available from 6am to 9pm during weekdays, 7am to 9pm on Saturday, as well as 10am to 7pm on Sundays and holidays. It costs $2.25 for a single-fare to ride the Seattle streetcar.
The Seattle Center Monorail
Seeing the Seattle Center Monorail cascade through the city center is a sight to behold and makes you want to take it whether for fun or to get where you need to go. According to the Seattle Monorail website, more than 2 million passengers per year take the monorail.
The monorail comes about every 10 minutes and takes passengers between the Seattle Center station and the Westlake Center Mall station.
To ride the Seattle Monorail, it’ll cost you $3 one-way and you must use an ORCA card or debit/credit for payment.
Driving in Seattle
Since Seattle is such a public transportation-friendly city, you may not need to drive at all. But there might be some neighborhoods that are easier to access with a car or if you want to go hiking in the area, driving might be your best bet though you may have to deal with traffic.
The good news is the city is relatively compact, so you may not need to drive that much. If you do drive a stick, beware of some of the hills, especially around Pike’s Place Market. If you’re a resident of Seattle and don’t drive that often, you might get substantial savings by switching to pay-per-mile insurance and pay a low base rate and for the miles you drive, and nothing more. That way you can get rewarded for driving less.
If you’re trying to figure out how to get around Seattle and looking for a flexible option to stop and go, you can explore the city on two wheels as well with a bike. It’s free and you get some built-in exercise, so it’s a win-win.
You can check out this Seattle Department of Transportation guide to biking around Seattle as well as this bike map of the city.
Another underrated Seattle transportation option is walking! You can go at your own pace and explore the city and see things you can’t always see with a car or on public transportation.
It’s also kind of like the choose-your-own-adventure option. You can go different routes, stop and see public art, street art, and other things that are unique to Seattle. Similar to biking, it’s also free and is basically getting a mini workout in.
Alternative and up-and-coming Seattle transportation options
On top of the more common Seattle transportation options listed above, there are also more alternative and up-and-coming transportation options to consider as well.
Uber and Lyft ride-share options
Using the power of your smartphone, you can quickly and easily secure a ride to get around Seattle using one of the ride-sharing programs. Uber and Lyft are ride-sharing options that you can easily use within the city all from the comfort of your phone.
Rent a bike with bike-sharing options
If you want to explore the city or get around by bike, but don’t have your own, don’t fret. The city of Seattle has a bike-sharing program that allows you to use a bike. Simply use your Uber app to reserve a JUMP bike and pay 15 cents per minute. You can also use Lime to get a bike for rent as well. For Lime, costs vary by the minute and it costs one dollar to access the bike and use it.
Use a scooter to see Seattle
If you’re curious about how to get around Seattle using more off-the-beaten-path options, consider renting a scooter. The city of Seattle has a scooter-share program so you can get around the city quickly. This can be a good option to go short distances or run a few errands or go down the street if you’re running late.
You can use:
It’s important to note that costs can vary, helmets are required and you aren’t allowed to ride scooters on the sidewalk.
The bottom line
As you can see, there are numerous Seattle transportation options to choose from. So depending on the day, your mood, energy, and the weather (hello, Seattle rain!) you can choose Seattle public transportation options or decide to drive yourself or get an Uber.
If you live in Seattle and have a car but don’t drive that often, check out pay-per-mile car insurance with Metromile. Just like you pay for utilities based on how much you use, you can pay for car insurance based on the miles you drive along with a low base rate. Get your no-hassle quote to see how much you could save.
Melanie Lockert is a freelance writer, podcast host of the Mental Health and Wealth show, and author of Dear Debt. She’s a cat mom to two jazzy cats, Miles and Thelonious, an amateur boxer, music lover, and needs coffee to function.