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The Amazon Spheres in downtown Seattle, with construction cranes in the distance. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)

Amazon is paying $1.5 million to fund increased public bus service around its Seattle headquarters in South Lake Union.

The investment will add 22 weekday trips for two years across a handful of King County Metro’s busy routes that serve surrounding neighborhoods such as West Seattle, Shoreline, Ballard, and Capitol Hill. It will provide an extra 1,700 weekday boardings. The changes will go into effect this September.

“Adding 12,000 hours of additional bus service across the county and city’s busiest routes will benefit all King County and Seattle residents,” John Schoettler, vice president of global real estate and facilities at Amazon, said in a statement. “More than half of our employees get to work in ways other than a single occupant vehicle – including more than 20 percent that take the bus. We are excited to see the increased capacity, and will continue to work with Metro and the City of Seattle to find innovative solutions that provide long-term transit options for the region.”

Amazon has expanded its footprint in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood over the past several years and now employs 45,000 people in the city across 35 buildings. The company said last year that it occupied more than 8 million square feet of office space in Seattle and could eventually expand to as much as 13.5 million square feet across 44 buildings.

Amazon has paid King County Metro more than $60 million since 2014 to provide employees with ORCA bus passes.

For the past two years, King County Metro has added buses to help transport Amazon summer interns from South Lake Union to the University of Washington campus.

Amazon and its CEO Jeff Bezos have become the face of a tech industry that has rapidly remade the look and feel of Seattle. The company has historically been criticized for its limited engagement in local issues and philanthropy but in recent years it has announced housing for homeless families, contributed large sums to the UW’s computer science program, and supported a mass transit initiative.

Amazon’s growth was at the center of the debate over Seattle’s recently defeated head tax, which would have funded affordable housing and homeless services by taxing big businesses like Amazon, which is still deciding where to put its second headquarters.

Amazon posted $51 billion in revenue for the most recent financial quarter.

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