Bus-only hours to be extended on 3rd Avenue

SEATTLE — Changes are on the way to downtown Seattle's Third Avenue that will affect the way commuters get around the city center.

The biggest change people will see has to do with restrictions on Third Avenue. Currently, Third Avenue is restricted to only buses and bicycles from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

But starting in September, the city will extend those restrictions, so drivers won't be able to drive on Third Avenue from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week. The restrictions are in place between Stewart Street and just south of Yesler Way.

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The point of the restrictions is to help get buses moving even faster through the area.

The city also plans to make left turns prohibited off Third Avenue at any time.

It also will install ORCA card readers at all stops along Third Avenue between Yesler and Denny ways so people can pay before their bus arrives.

That's an option already available for RapidRide buses.

Metro ridership has increased in recent years and is expected to rise even more, with 100,000 people on a normal weekday hopping on and off buses along Third Avenue.

Those changes will start in late September and will continue into next year and 2020.