Get on the bus! Alternatives to driving during Viaduct shutdown

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On Friday morning, Seattle's Alaska Way Viaduct shuts down for two weeks so the tunnel boring machine "Bertha" can dig beneath it.

Closing the viaduct, which carries 90,000 cars a day, will create a traffic mess.

To avoid that congestion, many of us are thinking about parking the car, and jumping on the bus.

Metro Transit is adding 22 additional buses to help with the added rider, but if you’ve never taken public transit, here are a few tips.

Plan ahead

You should figure out your trip well before you hit the bus stop. You can still find printed schedules at transit centers and other locations, but going on line to the Metro Transit website makes planning easier. Just type in where you’re leaving from, and where you want to go, and the site will tell you the bus number, where to catch it and what time.

Metro also has an app where you can do the same thing on your phone.

Know what to pay

If you are paying cash, you must have the exact change. During peak hours, 6:00 to 9:00 in the morning, and 3:00 to 6:00 in the afternoon, it’s $2.75, or $3.25 if you cross outside the city limits.

Off peak hours is $2.50.

The easiest way to pay is with an Orca card. They are available at all transit stations and several retailers like Safeway. You just put money on the card, and tap it on the Orca box when you step on board.

Give yourself extra time

Anita Moor, a bus rider from West Seattle, says it’s already crowded when she boards her bus.

“Think sardine can,” said Moor.

Often full buses will roll right past a bus stop, and you will have to wait for the next one.

“It’s why you plan your route and get to the bus stop early,” said Moor.

Metro Transit recommends that new riders make a practice run with the bus they want to catch before the viaduct closes.

Ultimately, you may save some time if you switch from your car to a bus, but the next two weeks will be unpredictable, and you should pack a lot of patience for your trip.

WSDOT has set up a website with other suggestions about navigating around the viaduct closure here.

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