Seattle, Washington is well connected by bus and rail. The bus system runs throughout the city and the metro area, even allowing easy access to the Sea-Tac Airport. Downtown, bus rides are FREE within a certain radius. Outside of the downtown area, fares are approximately $1.25 with a free transfer. That means even those of you stuck at some airport hotel can get downtown, see the city and back to your hotel for less than $3.00. What a bargain! Honestly, as frequent as the airport buses run, I can’t see why anyone would pay extra for a taxi or the shuttle.
Downtown, the monorail runs the length of 5th Street from Pine Street (near the Pike Place Market) to the Seattle Center (which contains the Space Needle, Key Arena, EMP Museum and Pacific Science Center).
From the airport area, you can take the 194 or the 174. Here is the deal with those two (which my hotel didn’t bother pointing out). The 194 stops at the area near the airport where many of the hotels are located. It then stops at the airport and then hits the interstate all the way downtown. There it resumes the normal bus route. It isn’t necessarily considered an express bus, but it is MUCH faster than the alternative. The ride will take you approximately 25 minutes to reach 4th and University, which is the best jump-off point for the Pike Place Market, as well as a good start to see the The Waterfront and Pioneer Square.
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The 174 runs through the city to the airport. If you’re interested in seeing Seattle away from the pretty downtown tourist spots, this could be an interesting ride. You go through the economically repressed areas of the city, and some real characters get on board. If you have the extra time, I suggest the ride. On my return to the hotel, there were passengers trying to use transfers that were several months old, people who refused to pay and my favorite…the guy challenging other passengers to craps games to win his bus fare. He said, “My name is CRIME…I don’t pay.” He was mad that the VA was going to stop giving him money and make him get a job. He was a trip. He wanted the bus driver to take him to New York City. To tell his boss he was going to be a little late and go to New York. And they COULD stop in Chicago to pick up some ladies. Wow. The bus driver said it was the best ride he’d had in 20 years with me sitting in the front and “Crime” sitting across from me. It was like living in a Dave Chapelle skit. You’ll definitely see a side of Seattle the everyday tourist doesn’t see. And you don’t have to worry about parking…
Want to track your bus online before going to the bus stop? Check out Bus View.