Last day for buses in Seattle's downtown transit tunnel

SEATTLE — In all the world, the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel is the only place buses and trains share underground stations.

That ends Friday night when the buses leave the tunnel to make way for light rail.

"It's kind of bittersweet. I kind of hate to leave. Everybody on the bus is taking pictures," King County Metro driver Vornice Bassett said on Route 255.

On the 101 to Renton, passenger Roger Banks also felt the moment in history.

"When I got on the bus just now, I was like, 'This is my last ride through the tunnel, on this bus anyway,'" Banks said.

On Saturday, when the tunnel becomes light rail-only, the buses will move to surface streets and compete for space in traffic.

"Now, I'll probably get home in 45 minutes instead of 20," said passenger Jeanette Rodney.

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Moving buses off downtown streets was the big selling point when the tunnel opened in 1990.

The bus tunnel was built with rails for future trains, but the rails were improperly insulated and never used.

In 2005, work began to convert the tunnel to light rail by laying new tracks and building a smaller adjoining tunnel.

Trains began running alongside buses in 2009.

A decade later, with light rail expanding region-wide, the buses have to go.

"Change is good, but I'm kind of sad," Bassett said.