Getting off a train

Link light rail is an affordable way to get to the UW, and it will help you avoid traffic.

The University of Washington’s Seattle campus is located in the city’s University District. Seattle is a vibrant, big city, which means it has some traffic congestion woes but also lots of transportation options for getting to campus. Whether you’re arriving to the region by plane, train, bus or car, you’ve got options for getting to the UW and around Seattle. Transit tip: As you’ll see, light rail and buses are affordable, easy ways to get around Seattle.

So let’s start with a piece of transit advice. The easiest way to pay transit fares in Seattle is the ORCA card. By loading value onto this card, you can avoid digging for exact change when paying bus fares and buying a ticket every time you ride light rail. You can use an ORCA card to pay fares on all Seattle-area transit. And if you plan to take several trips in a day, you can even purchase a Regional Day Pass to cover your whole day’s travel (more on that option under “Getting around Seattle” below)

An ORCA card costs $5 and can be purchased from vending machines at every Link light rail station, King Street Station and other area transit centers. To use your ORCA to pay your fare, just tap it on an ORCA reader when boarding. On Link light rail, be sure to tap before you board and after you reach your destination (fares are calculated based on the distance traveled).

From Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

Visitor transportation options
  Approximate time Cost
Sea-Tac Airport
Light rail 46 minutes $3.25
Taxi 27 minutes (no traffic) $63 (approximate)
King Street Station (Amtrak/Sounder train) or Bolt Bus
Light rail 15 minutes $2.50
Taxi 12 minutes (no traffic) $28 (approximate)
Greyhound Bus Terminal
Light rail 15 minutes $2.50
Taxi 13 minutes (no traffic) $28 (approximate)
By private car
  Travel time, plus at least 15 minutes to purchase a parking permit and walk to your destination Fuel, car rental fees or personal vehicle wear and tear, plus $15 for parking on campus

Link light rail: You can avoid traffic congestion and expensive taxis or car rentals by taking Link light rail. A trip to the UW campus will cost $3.25 and take approximately 45 minutes.

From the Sea-Tac Airport main baggage claim area, follow the signs and use the covered walkway to get to the Link light rail station (a 5- to 10-minute walk from the main terminal). Purchase a ticket at one of the vending machines at the station to travel to University of Washington Station (the last station on the line). Vending machines take cash, Visa or MasterCard. Sound Transit offers more information about taking light rail to and from the airport. Trains come every six minutes during peak commute times (6-8:30 a.m. and 3-6:30 p.m.) and 10-15 minutes the rest of the day.

Board any northbound train to University of Washington Station. (Link light rail runs from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m. on weekdays, and from 6 a.m. to midnight on weekends.) The UW Station is located on the southeast side of campus, adjacent to Husky Stadium. It is a 10-minute walk from there to Red Square or to the Husky Union Building (HUB), both at the heart of campus. To walk, use the pedestrian overpass to cross Montlake Boulevard, and head north up Rainier Vista. It’s a direct shot from there to Red Square; to get to the HUB, take a right on Stevens Way.

You can also hop on a bus near UW Station and ride to the heart of the University District. King County Metro Transit buses run to the heart of the U-District every eight minutes or less on seven all-day routes. Those bus routes are 44, 45, 48, 67, 71, 73 and 271. Exact change is required to pay the bus fare, which is $2.75 during peak commute periods (6-9 a.m. and 3-6 p.m. on weekdays) and $2.50 the rest of the day. 

Taxi: The approximate cost is $63 for a cab, including tip. Taxis are available at the taxi stand on the third floor of the north and south parking garages at Sea-Tac.

Shuttle Express Service: This will cost about $38 per person. Call 425-981-7000 1-800-487-7433 (toll-free); or book online via the Shuttle Express website.

Note that Lyft and Uber are currently not legally allowed to pick up passengers at Sea-Tac Airport.

King Street Station map

King Street Station is a short walk from the International District/Chinatown light rail station.

From King Street Station/Bolt Bus

Both Amtrak and Sounder Commuter trains run to Seattle’s King Street Station. Bolt Bus drops off directly adjacent to the International District/Chinatown light rail station.

Link light rail: You can avoid downtown traffic by taking Link light rail directly to campus in less than 15 minutes. The trip will cost you $2.50. The International District/Chinatown Station is a five-minute walk from King Street Station. Head east from King Street Station and cross Fourth Avenue S. Purchase a ticket at one of the vending machines at the station to travel to University of Washington Station (the last station on the line). Vending machines take cash, Visa or MasterCard. Follow signs for northbound trains. Trains come every six minutes during peak commute times (6-8:30 a.m. and 3-6:30 p.m.) and every 10-15 minutes the rest of the day.

Board any northbound train to University of Washington Station. (Link light rail runs from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m. on weekdays, and 6 a.m. to midnight on weekends.) The UW Station is located on the southeast side of campus, adjacent to Husky Stadium. It is a 10-minute walk from there to Red Square or to the Husky Union Building (HUB), both at the heart of campus. To walk, use the pedestrian overpass to cross Montlake Boulevard, and head north up Rainier Vista. It’s a direct shot from there to Red Square; to get to the HUB, take a right on Stevens Way. 

You can also hop on a bus near UW Station and ride to the heart of the University District. King County Metro Transit buses run to the heart of the U-District every eight minutes or less on seven all-day routes. Those bus routes are 44, 45, 48, 67, 71, 73 and 271. Exact change is required to pay the bus fare, which is $2.75 during peak commute periods (6-9 a.m. and 3-6 p.m. on weekdays) and $2.50 the rest of the day.

Taxi: A cab will cost about $28, including tip. Taxis are usually waiting outside of King Street Station.

From Greyhound Bus Terminal

Light rail map Link light rail: Avoid downtown traffic (and, depending on the day, traffic for Seahawks, Sounders or Mariners games) by taking the approximately 15-minute Link light rail ride to the UW. The trip will cost $2.50. The Greyhound bus terminal is right next to Link light rail’s Stadium Station. Exit the main doors and turn left to get to the station. Purchase a ticket at one of the vending machines at the station to travel to University of Washington Station (the last station on the line). Vending machines take cash, Visa or MasterCard. Follow signs for northbound trains. Trains come every six minutes during peak commute times (6-8:30 a.m. and 3-6:30 p.m.) and every 10-15 minutes the rest of the day.

Board any northbound train to University of Washington Station. (Link light rail runs from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m. on weekdays, and 6 a.m. to midnight on weekends.) The UW Station is located on the southeast side of campus, adjacent to Husky Stadium. It is a 10-minute walk from there to Red Square or to the Husky Union Building (HUB), both at the heart of campus. To walk, use the pedestrian overpass to cross Montlake Boulevard, and head north up Rainier Vista. It’s a direct shot from there to Red Square; to get to the HUB, take a right on Stevens Way.

You can also hop on a bus near UW Station and ride to the heart of the University District. King County Metro Transit buses run to the heart of the U-District every eight minutes or less on seven all-day routes. Those bus routes are 44, 45, 48, 67, 71, 73 and 271. Exact change is required to pay the bus fare, which is $2.75 during peak commute periods (6-9 a.m. and 3-6 p.m. on weekdays) and $2.50 the rest of the day.

Taxi: A cab to campus will cost about $28, including tip. Taxis are usually waiting or can be hailed from outside the main terminal entrance.

By Car

If you are coming to campus in a car, plan for traffic and allow time to pay for parking and to walk to your destination. If it’s between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. on a weekday, or between 7 a.m. and noon on a Saturday, you’ll need to stop by a staffed gatehouse when you come to campus to purchase a parking permit. Gatehouses are at the following locations:

Parking specialists will assign you to a parking lot for the day depending on your destination. The fee for assigned parking is $15 per day. Another campus parking option is self-serve parking in E1, a lot on the east side of campus that is spacious, affordable and about a 10-minute walk from Red Square. Parking in E1 costs $6 per day. People on the bus

About 60 different bus routes run through the University District.

Getting around Seattle

Bus, light rail and streetcar: Seattle is well-served by transit, and many people find it to be the easiest way to get around. There’s no stress navigating unfamiliar streets and no hassle finding and paying for parking. The UW is the second-best-served transit destination in the state of Washington (downtown Seattle is first). Hop on Link light rail for an eight-minute ride to downtown or explore the region using about 60 different bus routes that come to the University District. If you have a smartphone, Google Maps is a simple way to determine which route to hop on. It also gives you information about when the next bus/train will arrive.  

Picking up a Pronto bike

Don’t have a smartphone? Take time now to plan out your trip with King County Metro Transit’s trip planner or Google Maps. If you plan to take several transit trips in a day, you might save some money if you purchase a Regional Day Pass for $8, which is loaded onto a reusable ORCA card (which costs an additional $5 for a total cost of $13). You can purchase a regional day pass at a ticket vending machine (located at train stations, some transit centers and in the downtown Seattle transit tunnel).

Pronto Cycle Share: Seattle’s bike share program, Pronto, offers 24-hour and three-day passes ($8 and $16, respectively) to borrow bicycles at stations in select neighborhoods in Seattle (including downtown and the University District). You can purchase a pass at any of the station kiosks using a credit or debit card. You’ll then be able to check out a bike and ride to another station to drop it off. You get unlimited 30-minute rides, but if you ride for longer than that at one time you’ll be charged more. Learn more at prontocycleshare.com.

One thing to know about bicycling in Seattle: King County’s helmet law requires anyone riding a bicycle, regardless of age, to wear a helmet. Thankfully, helmets are available for rental at all Pronto stations.

This entry was posted in Bicycling, Driving and Parking, Featured Stories, Transit on Mar 22, 2016 by Matt.