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2013 Convention News

How to Get Around Seatown

By Chris Daikos

Seattle is shaped like an hourglass surrounded by water to the east, west, and in the middle of the city. City planners in the past decided to lay a grid on this hourglass, causing newcomers to our city a great deal of frustration when roads end at water's edge or streets miraculously change names with little to no warning. Our streets and highways seem to have the same quirky characteristics as our city and people. There are several ways to get around the Emerald City, many of which are unexpected. I hope that with the information provided below you will be able to get around easily. Do not hesitate to ask anyone for directions—Seattleites are more than willing to help.

Get on the Bus

Seattle's bus system is more or less its main public transportation system. The Metro served about 113 million passengers last year. It's a safe means of transportation, but you will certainly need a little planning before you jump on. The bus can connect you to our ferry system, rail system, and airport. Visit the Metro King County Trip Planner website (http://metro.kingcounty.gov) for help in planning your trip. The site allows you to enter cross streets or landmarks rather than needing actual addresses.

Metro Bus Rates:
Seniors 65 and older: $.75
Adults ages 19–64: $2.25 (off peak hours),
$2.50 (6:00 a.m.–9:00 a.m. and 3:00–6:00 p.m.)
Youth ages 6–18: $1.25


Unless you plan on driving out of the city during your stay, it is not recommended to rent a car. Taxi fare from the airport is a flat rate of $30.00 or you could take the Light Rail from SeaTac Airport to downtown for $2.75. Most events during the conference will be within walking distance. Also, the Metro will get you anywhere you need to go in King County.

If you do choose to drive, maybe in hopes of skiing or getting out of the city to experience the great Northwest, please be aware that traffic jams are predictable around rush hours but can occur any time of the day. I-5, I-90, and 99 are main routes into the city. All three routes are prone to considerable traffic jams. In our ranking-obsessed society, Seattle has been ranked 4th and 7th in North America for worst traffic. The point is, traffic can get bad.

Please be aware that tolls on the 520 Bridge heading to and from Seattle and Kirkland and SR 167 from Renton to Auburn charge higher tolls during rush hour, which will be mailed to you.

Park and Ride

If you are driving to Seattle but would prefer to park outside the city and ride the bus in, please use the following link for information about the park and ride system in King County: http://metro.kingcounty.gov/tops/parknride/parknride.html.

Link Light Rail

The Link Light Rail system is in its infancy, with one line connecting downtown Seattle and SeaTac Airport. The light rail is an easy, affordable, and predictable trip. If you're boarding the light rail from SeaTac, stay on the train until it ends at West Lake Center. The ride will have several stops along the way, and it will take about 30–40 minutes to get downtown for $2.75. Trains from SeaTac run from 5:04 a.m. to 12:10 a.m. (http://www.soundtransit.org/Schedules/Central-Link-light-rail.xml).


Washington state has the largest ferry system in the Unites States, which serves the communities of the Puget Sound and San Juan Islands. Eleven million vehicles board the ferries annually. There are two ferry terminals in the city limits of Seattle: Fauntleroy in West Seattle and the Downtown terminal. If you are using the ferry, be sure to check and see if the Seattle stop is the one you need. A postconference day trip to Friday Harbor is highly recommended (http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries).


There is a flat rate of $40.00 for taxis from SeaTac to the Seattle hotel district. Typically, a taxi ride from the airport to downtown takes 18–20 minutes. Follow the ground transportation signs in the airport. Taxis cued up in the parking garage are easily accessible (http://www.portseattle.org/sea-tac/parking-and-transportation/ground-transportation/Pages/default.aspx).

Shuttle Express

A shuttle service for $19.00 (and $8.00 each additional person) is an affordable alternative from the airport but could take considerably longer due to multiple stops (http://www.shuttleexpress.com/hotels).


Seattle is a very bike-friendly city with opportunities to rent a bike. Most streets in the city offer bike lanes, and there are many bike routes with signage throughout the city. If it is not raining, riding a bike is the most efficient and pleasurable way to travel in the city. Bike commuters often travel more quickly than their auto-riding counterparts.

Bike map: http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/bikemaps.htm

Bike Rentals: http://www.bpaseattle.com/?page_id=135 and http://www.recycledcycles.com/rentals


A postconference ski trip to Alpental/Summit at Snoqualmie is highly recommended (60 minutes east on I-5).

Chris Daikos is a research associate at the University of Washington and local student convention committee cochair.