In this CNN article about the U.S. Census Bureau’s “American Community Survey” it says that 17% of Seattlites commuted to work on the bus in 2005. That’s about half as high a percentage of commuters on transit as San Francisco or Boston, and less than a third as much as New York where 54.6% of workers ride transit.

Probably more commuters who don’t work ride the bus. Those would be students, the unemployed and senior citizens, but let’s hope we can get the number up when LRT is built, because we are barely higher than Boston’s walk to work percentage (13%).

Update: NL asked, so I decided to go deeper in to the numbers, but lots of the links keep breaking. Sorry if they do for you.

This is about transportation for workers just in the city. It only is for workers, so it doesn’t count students. The data was collected by mailed survey (I filled one out down in San Francisco), and they have some wildly detailed information about sample size, response rate, etc.

I’m mildly surprised that its only 17% for the city, seems low. But the big news is actually this statistic: 7.6% of people in the urban area commute by transit! Look at the map to see the area. 3% statistic is completely wrong. Even including Monroe, Issaquah, Federal Way, Spanaway and the far outlying suburbs and we still get better than 2.5 times that misquoted statistic.

Here’s a breakdown of the data for the sub-regions with in the area. This includes rural areas!

I delved deeper into into this statistic.

During peak rush hour, 6-9 am, fully twenty percent (20.2%) of Seattle commuted by transit in 2005, and nine percent of the region.

Percentage of People Commuting by Public Transit in the City
12:00 a.m. to 4:59 a.m. 7.74
5:00 a.m. to 5:29 a.m. 12.8
5:30 a.m. to 5:59 a.m. 9.67
6:00 a.m. to 6:29 a.m. 21.8
6:30 a.m. to 6:59 a.m. 19.4
7:00 a.m. to 7:29 a.m. 22.6
7:30 a.m. to 7:59 a.m. 15.7
8:00 a.m. to 8:29 a.m. 23.8
8:30 a.m. to 8:59 a.m. 17.3
9:00 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. 15.7
Percentage of People Commuting by Public Transit in the Greater Seattle Urban Area
12:00 a.m. to 4:59 a.m. 3.43
5:00 a.m. to 5:29 a.m. 5.66
5:30 a.m. to 5:59 a.m. 4.28
6:00 a.m. to 6:29 a.m. 9.66
6:30 a.m. to 6:59 a.m. 8.62
7:00 a.m. to 7:29 a.m. 10.0
7:30 a.m. to 7:59 a.m. 6.98
8:00 a.m. to 8:29 a.m. 10.5
8:30 a.m. to 8:59 a.m. 7.69
9:00 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. 6.95

Anti-transit folks will not stop using the 3% statistic, but we know for commuters, especially during peak rush hour, it’s not the right number. In 2005, their number was already way off, and just wait until central link is finished, and let’s revisit these statistics. I bet it has already crossed 25% for the city by now, and 12% for the region by 2008.

5 Replies to “17% of Seattle Workers Commuted by Bus”

  1. I wonder how accurate the data is for Seattle? Are they considering only King County Metro, who is the largest agency for transportation in the Puget Sound? Are they looking at Sound Transit? Community Transit? The Washington State Ferries? I feel 17 percent is weak and should be higher. I know that most of the buses I see are fairly packed. Also, the numbers are skewed to workers? I don’t get how that is measured? Assuming ridership statistics on M-F 9-5 are all workers? This is somewhat misleading I think. The APTA has KCM as the 5th largest bus agency in the US. Behind NYC, Boston, Chicago, and SF. Who knows? I would be interested in their research.

  2. Ummm how is Portland so far down the list? I thought they had much better (and well used) public transportation.

  3. I think it’s because Portland is really not that dense. It’s about 1,533/km² for Portland, 2,665/km² for Seattle, 3,165/km² for Los Angeles, and 6,111/km² for San Francisco.

  4. Nice work on getting the facts! Much appreciated. I too am suprised that Portland has lower numbers, however I am not really suprised they are lower in percentages than we are for sheer population reasons. My brother lives in Portland and he complains of the same thing many people complain about, and that is that bus service is suffering at the hands of MAX and Streetcar dreams. They have no commuter rail yet. Having said that I have ridden MAX and it was full everytime I have been on it. Especially as you hit the Lloyd Center and the Free Zone.

  5. Interesting that there is no info about commuters who walk or bike. I wonder how this would impact these numbers.

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