Seattle is, quite literally, a city of ups and downs. Since it was built on a wide range of hills, walking and cycling can be quite the workout. A relaxing walk around downtown may turn out to be an exercise in willpower and physical capabilities if you are not mindful of where one hill ends and another begins.
In addition, this city is known for having some of the worst rush hour traffic jams in the country. If you need to commute between 6:30 am and 9 am, or between 3 pm and 6:30 pm, make sure you give yourself plenty of time and check the traffic maps in advance.
So since walking and biking aren’t always going to be the best ways to get around such a big and hilly city, you will need to know how to use its extensive public transportation system. One important part of moving is making sure you browse furnished rentals in Seattle that are close to your workplace. That way, you minimize the amount of commuting you need to do daily.
Seattle has a vast interplay of different methods that can take you all around the city. To help you get your first steps in navigating, here are all the public transportation vehicles you can use in Seattle.
King County Metro
This is Seattle’s main mode of transportation. It is an immense network of buses that go everywhere in downtown Seattle, taking you as far north as Mountlake Terrace and as far south as Federal Way. Riding the bus might take a little longer than driving, especially if you don’t take an express route and the bus has multiple stops along the way. However, it is a great way to avoid paying for parking or navigating Seattle’s traffic yourself.
King County Metro’s base far is $2.75. It is discounted for seniors and those with disabilities. Children who are up to 18 years old can ride for free. You pay when you board the bus, either with exact cash, an ORCA card, bus tickets, or a Transit GO ticket.
The metro operates seven days a week, with several routes operating nearly 24 hours a day. This can vary according to the day of the week, though, so make sure to double-check the bus schedule before heading out.
If you plan on transferring and you paid with cash or a ticket, then you can ask your driver for a paper transfer when you board. This serves as your receipt and when you move to another system of transportation, you can present it at the next vehicle. If you are transferring on a Transit GO ticket, then it will remain active on your phone for all Metro buses, for two hours after the time you activated it.
The Sound Transit operates alongside the King County Metro. It connects communities as far south as Dupont and Tacoma to Everett, Sammamish, and Issaquah. The main difference between the two is that the Sound Transit offers express buses, the Link Light Rail, and the Sounder commuter train.
We recommend hopping on the Link Light Rail if you ever need to make a quick trip to and from the airport. The Sounder commuter train is also great for trips from Seattle to Tacoma or Everett; however, you will need to be mindful of their limited working hours.
Seattle Center Monorail
The Seattle Center Monorail is an iconic part of the city. It travels between Westlake Center, downtown, and Seattle Center, located at the base of Queen Anne hill. If you decide to hop on the monorail, be prepared to share the vehicle with plenty of other tourists. This is one of the most touristy things to do in the city.
Since Seattle is located in Puget Sound, there are plenty of areas that are not accessible by car or train or light rail. When this happens, you can hop on the city’s extensive ferry system. You can also drive or walk onto most ferries. It’s a popular method of transportation—but when you have some free time, it is also plenty of fun to just get on and see what Seattle looks like from the water. For this purpose, we strongly recommend going on the Bremerton ferry because it offers stunning views of the city skyline.
Water taxis also operate on the water; however, they only allow walk-on passengers. The city has two water taxi routes: Seattle to West Seattle, and Seattle to Vashon Island. Both are accessible through Pier 50’s ferry terminal.
Streetcars are automobiles that travel through a rail system built directly on top of the streets. You can hop on the streetcar line in South Lake Union or First Hill. It’s a good way to travel in between the neighborhoods in service; but due to its limited routes, it is not the most favored method of transportation in the city.