The Puget Sound region pulled off a blitz of its own Wednesday as Seattle played host to the biggest victory party the Northwest has ever seen – and public transportation executed its plays mobilizing every available resource to get people to the parade and rally.
It’s estimated more than 700,000 fans traveled downtown — a higher turnout than the city’s entire population. It was the largest turnout for any event in the state’s history — and by far a record single day for transit ridership.
An event of this scale and magnitude required immense coordination and teamwork between city of Seattle, police, transit, emergency response personnel and event organizers.
It also required the 12th Man and commuters alike to pack a lot of patience as they faced long lines and delays. Every transit agency that played a role in the historic event appreciates the good spirit and understanding that was on full display during Wednesday’s celebration.
From the early morning hours, buses, trains, ferries and water taxis were filled to capacity as Seahawks fans all across the region descended on downtown Seattle to welcome home the Seahawks and celebrate one of the most impressive wins in Super Bowl history. And the agencies kept service moving until the last group of partygoers headed home that evening.
From the start, it was all hands on deck for transit. Every possible resource was deployed to help keep people moving. More buses were on the street – including buses loaned from neighboring transit districts. And more train and water taxi service helped get people in and out of the downtown core.
Despite the crushing demand, the transit agencies worked behind the scenes to coordinate resources to ensure they could safely carry the maximum number of riders possible and keep the region’s transportation system moving.
Transit by the numbers – an early look at what they did:
King County Metro Transit
Metro, one of the 10 largest transit systems in the country, carries about 400,000 people on a typical weekday. On Wednesday, daily commuters and Seahawks fans filled buses to capacity to downtown Seattle before and after the parade. In all, there were about 1,200 Metro and Sound Transit buses on the streets, including at least 85 additional buses that made 300 or more additional bus trips throughout the day. Bus drivers reported hundreds of full buses – about 20 times as many as a typical weekday. Detailed ridership estimates are not yet available.
Closing Fourth Avenue for the parade forced 33 Metro routes to be detoured much of the day and affected nearly 100 Metro routes serving downtown Seattle. Metro also pitched in and sent eight buses to carry riders from Tukwila, Kent and Auburn rail stations.
Metro’s website had double to triple the daily traffic— 65,000 and 70,000 visits Tuesday and Wednesday, compared to a weekday typical 26,000. The transit alerts page had more than 18,000 visits over those two days compared to a daily average of 62. Metro answered about 4,000 calls at the call center, about twice as many as usual.
Sound Transit marked its busiest day ever. Early estimates put regional train and bus ridership around 200,000. As more data is collected, it appears that number may grow. Average weekday ridership is typically around 105,000.