Skip to main content
UW Facilities Blog

Navigating Commencement traffic


UW graduates at Commencement
Plan ahead to avoid getting tripped up

UW graduates, families, friends and scores of staffers and volunteers should plan ahead for beating the traffic on June 15. That’s because of the anticipated tens of thousands of visitors who will make their way to campus for Commencement activities, along with the more than 100 departmental celebrations leading up to the big event: the UW Commencement ceremony on Saturday, June 15, at Husky Stadium. More than 5,500 graduates are expected to collect their diplomas to the cheers and applause of some 40,000 family members and friends.

Commencement week is an amazing time to be on campus. However, it can turn traffic into a real challenge. Here’s our advice for surviving the traffic maze, whether or not you’ll be attending the actual ceremony.

If you’re going to Commencement, start early!

Save yourself some stress and ensure you’ll make it to the ceremony on time by starting your day nice and early. Stadium doors open and graduates are to line up outside at 12:30 p.m. Breeze through the bag check by planning ahead and following all guidelines. The procession begins at 1:30 p.m.

Think about how long it might take you to get to campus on a normal day. Then think about how long it might take in heavy traffic. Then provide yourself even more time than that.

Link light rail.jpg

Link light rail will get you their quicker

Take Link light rail to the UW Station, and you’ll be right in front of Husky Stadium.

 If you can, avoid driving solo

Many bus lines will drop you off near the stadium — much closer than a parking spot. Buses will be subject to traffic (again, leave early!), but you won’t have to worry about parking. And if you take the bus instead of driving, that will be one less car on the road.

And who says you can’t bike to graduation in your cap and gown? Some 10,000 spaces are available to park your bike.

To plan your transit trip, use the trip planners from King County Metro Transit or Sound TransitGoogle Maps or click here to view key routes that serve the UW campus from the north, south, east or west.

Keep your commute options open, but start really early

Another sensible option includes Uber, Lyft and other ride-hailing services. On Commencement Day, those services will drop riders off on Stevens Way at Rainier Vista, a short walk from Husky Stadium, or any one of our many campus Loading Zones. Keep in mind that fares for ridehail services can increase when they are in high demand.

The UW Commencement website has all the details you’ll need about parking on Commencement day and for department ceremonies throughout the week. We just can’t stress this enough: Get started early to give yourself time to make your way through traffic, park, and get from your parking spot to the stadium. Huge crowds of people will be out and about, so please be patient, drive slowly and help keep everyone safe. Shuttles will be provided between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. to transport guests near the stadium from some parking locations; the Commencement site has those details, too.

If you have family or friends visiting from out of town, you can help them out by sending them our Getting to UW page, which has more information about getting to campus and around Seattle using different transportation methods.

If you’ll be near campus at all during Commencement week

Expect crowds and congestion. With more than 100 celebrations taking place in mid-June, thousands of visitors will be driving and walking around campus throughout the week. Many will be unfamiliar with the campus, and others will be here for the first time. So expect roads around campus to be more congested than usual.

Our advice: Give yourself some extra time to get to and from campus, and consider trying out a new commute.

If you’re not attending Commencement, it’s best to avoid the U District

We advise you to steer clear of the area around Husky Stadium if you can. With 45,000 people headed to the stadium simultaneously, roads and sidewalks nearby will be especially congested between noon and 6 p.m.

Parking restrictions and traffic controls will be in place along Montlake Boulevard NE from mid-morning until evening. For information on disability parking, click here.

We’re here to help

If you’ll be traveling in the area, consider using an alternate route farther away from Husky Stadium. If traveling north or south, use the University or I-5 bridges instead of the Montlake Bridge. If dropping off or picking up someone from Link light rail, consider using Capitol Hill Station instead of UW Station.

If you need to work on campus on Commencement day, or any day next week, you can reach out to our Commute Options team for help planning your route to campus.