Route 40 - Transit-Plus Multimodal Corridor

Making bus trips faster, enhancing reliability, and improving safety.

Updated September 14, 2023

What's Happening Now?

The Seattle Department of Transportation and King County Metro would like to thank everybody who shared their feedback on the refined designs for the Route 40 Transit Multimodal Corridor Project! Your input will continue to be invaluable in helping us to refine and improve the project, and we appreciate the time and effort you took to share your thoughts with us.

Want to learn about what was shared with us this past spring and summer? Check out the Summer 2023 Outreach Summary in our project materials library.

We are working on finalizing the design. After the design is finalized, we will reach out to businesses and residents again along the project corridor to begin preparing for construction activities.

Please visit the Online Engagement Hub to review the refined design concepts in Westlake, Fremont, Ballard, and North Seattle.   

Updates include: 

  • Designing new street layouts to help calm traffic, increase safety, and reduce bus travel times
  • Making it easier for travelers to make left turns throughout the corridor
  • Limiting the distance between transfer points in Fremont
  • Maintaining the total number of loading zones in each neighborhood
  • Adding new connections for people biking in Fremont and Ballard
    • New northbound bike lane connection on Fremont Ave N 
    • Neighborhood Greenway connection near 20th Ave NW and Leary Way NW 

Partnering with King County Metro, we plan to make improvements to this vital transit corridor. 

The objectives of the project are to reduce transit travel times, improve transit reliability, and increase safety and transit access along the Route 40 corridor. We have a goal of reducing peak transit travel times by 5% to 10% and making the time between buses more consistent so trips take about the same amount of time, no matter the time of day.

Improvements made as part of this Transit-Plus Multimodal Corridor project will include: 

  • Dedicated bus lanes: Bus-only lanes that separate buses from traffic and improve transit travel times and reliability
  • Signal upgrades or optimization: Transit signal priority extends or activates green lights to reduce waiting times for buses at signals
  • Channelization changes or turn restrictions: Changes to lane markings, and restricting turns for other vehicles so that buses can move faster and avoid right-of-way conflicts, making all travelers safer
  • Safety improvements: Improvements to crossings and transit connections to help people get to bus stops more easily and safely
  • Sidewalk upgrades: Repaving sidewalks and upgrading curb ramps to become ADA-accessible in key locations 

Route 40 corridor improvements were first identified as part of the Levy to Move Seattle and King County Metro's METRO CONNECTS program. Based on results of the 2018 Levy Workplan Report, Route 40 will not be transitioned to RapidRide during this project. However, improvements will be designed to align with potential future RapidRide expansion.

Route 40 Background

Running north to south, Route 40 is 13.5 miles long and passes through the neighborhoods of Northgate, Crown Hill, Loyal Heights, Ballard, Fremont, South Lake Union, Downtown Seattle, and Pioneer Square.

Before COVID, Route 40 was one of Metro's highest ridership routes, serving over 13,000 weekday riders — the third highest ridership route in the system behind the D and E Lines. During COVID pandemic, it remains one of Metro's top highest ridership routes, serving an average of over 7,000 customers each weekday.

Route 40 buses are scheduled to arrive every 5 to 10 minutes during peak periods and stops are located approximately every quarter mile throughout the route. However, buses on this route are often slow and unreliable, impacting thousands of people who rely on transit. This project will identify and implement improvements that provide faster and more reliable transit service for Route 40 and other bus routes that share the corridor.

Key Transit Connections

Route 40 connects with some of the highest ridership routes in our system, such as the RapidRide C, D, and E Lines, as well as Route 44. Additionally, Route 40 ends at the Northgate Transit Center, where many regional transit routes come together. Route 40 connects to the Northgate Link light rail station, completed in October 2021, and will connect to the Ballard station to be completed in 2037-39.

Project Map

An image of the proposed changes and project map.

Project Schedule

Route 40 Timeline

  1. Planning (2019-2021): We collected traffic data, reviewed plans, and gathered community experiences to define options.
  2. Design (2021-2023): We are collaborating with the community, working to secure regulatory approval (e.g., Environmental Assessment), and developing a more detailed final design.
  3. Construction (as soon as 2024): We will construct the project and keep the community informed on the latest construction updates, schedule, and expected impacts.
  4. Service launch (planned for 2025)

We split the design phase into four stages: early design, refined design, advanced design, and final design/preconstruction.  At each stage, we've solidified different aspects of what the project will look like, so we look for different types of input from the community at each point.

We are currently at the refined design stage.  At this stage, you will be able to review the larger design changes that have been determined and provide feedback on smaller changes. 

At the advanced design stage, we will know what the project will look like and will be collecting feedback only on minor changes. 

See more on the RapidRide Program update.

See more on the comprehensive assessment of the Levy to Move Seattle.

Community Outreach

We received nearly 450 responses to our outreach survey in spring 2021. Overall, community members supported measures prioritizing transit and pedestrian safety improvements. You can read the full survey results in our outreach summary and view our presentation summarizing the current proposed changes.

In spring 2022, the outreach team collected further input from the community. You can read the full survey results in our outreach summary

Date Event
February 2020 Virtual drop-in session
February, 2020 - April 2020 Online survey
April 2020 Listserv and webpage updates
March 22, 2021 Concept video posted
April 7 and 8, 2021 Virtual drop-in sessions
March/April 2021 Listserv updates and stakeholder emails
March/April 2021 Online survey
April - June 2021 Presentations to community groups upon request
Spring 2021 Updated presentations to Transit and Freight Advisory Boards
Spring 2022 Stakeholder meeting with interim SDOT Director
May/June  Briefing held between SDOT and Fremont stakeholders
May 2022 Preliminary design survey open
June 2022 Preliminary design survey closed
Spring 2023 Refined designs shared
Spring 2023 Listserv updated and stakeholder emails
Spring 2023 In-person outreach to Westlake, Fremon, Ballard and Northgate

Other Projects Along This Route

SDOT and Metro are focusing many investments along Route 40. Our project team is in close coordination with the following projects: 

Project Materials


This project is being funded by the 9-year Levy to Move Seattle, approved by voters in 2015 to improve safety for all travelers, maintain our streets and bridges, and invest in reliable, affordable travel options for a growing city. Additional sources include federal grants, state grants, King County Metro funds, and Vehicle Licensing Fees from the Seattle Transit Benefit District.

Environmental Updates

SDOT has determined that the Route 40 Transit-Plus Multimodal Corridor Project will not have a probable significant adverse impact on the environment. As a result, SDOT issued a Determination of Non-significance (DNS) on May 22, 2023. This decision was made after review of the adopted National Environmental Policy Act Documented Categorical Exclusion (DCE) Worksheet and technical reports.

Please see the DNS below for more information. 

SEPA Documents


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Greg Spotts, Director
Address: 700 5th Ave, Suite 3800, Seattle, WA, 98104
Mailing Address: PO Box 34996, Seattle, WA, 98124-4996
Phone: (206) 684-7623

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The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is on a mission to deliver a transportation system that provides safe and affordable access to places and opportunities for everyone as we work to achieve our vision of Seattle as a thriving, equitable community powered by dependable transportation.