Ride the Monorail

The Monorail is an elevated monorail line that runs a little over one mile along Fifth Avenue from the Seattle Center to Westlake Center in the core of Downtown. It claims to be the "only fully self-sufficient public transit system" in the United States, and with a top speed of 45 mph, to also be the fastest full-sized monorail in the country.

The monorail, which cost $3.5 million to build, opened on March 24, 1962 for the Century 21 Exposition, a World's Fair being held at the current site of Seattle Center. Eight million people rode the monorail during the half year the fair was open; today, annual ridership is around 2.5 million.

At the Seattle Center, the Experience Music Project building was designed so that the monorail passes through it on its way to the terminal. At the other end of the line, there is an elevator down to the Westlake Station of the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel, a stop for the Central Link light rail line, and Metro bus lines.

The Monorail runs on a daily basis and round-trip fares are $4.00 for adults, $1.50 for youth ages 5–12, $2.00 for senior 65+, disabled (with valid Regional Reduced Fare Permit), and persons with Medicare cards. One-way fares are half of the round-trip price. Children four and under ride free. Trains depart every 10 minutes from the station at Seattle Center en route to Westlake Center Mall. Each trip takes two minutes to cover the approximately one-mile route. Each train can carry up to 450 passengers per trip. The monorail provides two-train service during special events and activities, with departures every five minutes or less.

Here's what you'll see:

If you only have limited time in Seattle, the Monorail is a great way to get from one main attraction (Space Needle) to another main attraction (Pike Place Market.) The line is only just over a mile long and has only two stops - one at each end. While the monorail has been around since the 1962 World's Fair, it is really not very useful as a mode of general transportation.


Picture of the Seattle Center Monorail station


You can board the Monorail at the Seattle Center (it costs $4 for an adult round trip). The entrance is located right beneath the Space Needle.


Picture of the Monorail passing through the Experience Music Project


As you start off on your journey towards downtown Seattle, the Monorail will pass right through the Experience Music Project!


The Westlake Center Monorail station


The next (and only) stop is Westlake Center, which is only a couple of blocks east of the Pike Place Market. It is also right in the middle of Seattle's busy shopping district in downtown Seattle. While you are here you can spend time shopping - the flagship Nordstrom store is right across the street from the Monorail station. There are also two malls (Westlake Center and Pacific Place), lots of restaurants, and many other retailers in the area.


Inside the Monorail


The Monorail is a unique form of transportation. It gets you downtown very quickly, runs about every 10 minutes, and is relatively inexpensive. The Monorail is much cheaper than a taxi, more convenient than trying to get on a bus, and faster than driving and trying to find parking around the Pike Place Market. When you finish browsing the shops at Pike Place Market or walking around the waterfront, you can hop on the monorail and head back to your car at the Seattle Center. (Of course if you prefer, you can also take the Monorail in the opposite direction – from Pike Place Market, hop on the monorail to see the Space Needle and then head back.)