DSTT Under Construction in 1987 (King County Photo)

This morning at the State of Downtown Economic Forum, the Downtown Seattle Association and Commute Seattle released an updated study of Downtown* commuting trends, with exciting results for transit advocates (our previous coverage here). Just 31% of Downtown Seattle workers now drive alone to work, a new historic low. These results continue the positive trends from prior surveys, down from an estimated 50% in 2000, 35% in 2010, and 34% in 2012.

Of course, these are proportions rather than volumes, so in a growth context a lower drive-alone rate does not necessarily mean less traffic, just as eating a proportionally smaller slice of a larger pie doesn’t mean you consumed fewer calories.  Our region’s traffic woes are real and in need of attention, but nonetheless these results show that Downtown is at least keeping up with what’s needed for job growth to continue without being choked off by gridlock and unreliable transit. The results are also a ringing endorsement of the benefits of transit and density, with 45% of Downtown commuters now choosing transit, and 15% opting for non-motorized trips (walking, bicycling, or teleworking).

Modal Split Snip

Within the high-level data there are also some interesting trends. The traditional Downtown core, with  rivers of peak-hour transit service and the most expensive parking, has a truly impressive drive-alone rate of just 22%, whereas faster-growing neighborhoods such as South Lake Union are more than double that (46%). Clearly, transit service has not kept up with job growth in Downtown’s periphery, and this is an issue that should be urgently addressed.

Company size also appears to be a major factor, which is no surprise considering the prevalence of employer paid ORCA cards in the Seattle area. Yet interestingly, medium sized companies (20-99 employees) showed the greatest positive growth, nearly matching the achievements of the largest companies despite being exempt from regulatory requirements such as the Commute Trip Reduction law. Yet the smallest companies (1-20 employees) are still largely left out, with a relatively high drive-alone rate of 41%.

Intermodal Growth

The report comes at a time when downtowns across the country are adding jobs faster than their suburbs.

* For the purposes of the DSA and Commute Seattle, “Downtown” includes everything from Elliott Bay to Broadway, and Galer to Royal Brougham. The survey didn’t include Sodo.)

Commute Seattle’s media release is below the jump:

SEATTLE – The proportion of Downtown Seattle commuters driving alone to work has fallen to a new low. According to a new Commute Seattle survey conducted by EMC Research[1], just 31 percent of Downtown’s estimated 228,000 daily commuters[2] drive alone to work, continuing a strong downward trend from 35 percent in 2010 and 34 percent in 2012.

Public transit[3] continues to be the top choice for Downtown commuters (45%), followed by driving alone (31%)[4], ridesharing[5] (9%), walking (7%), teleworking (4%), and bicycling (3%).

These encouraging results show that Commute Seattle is approaching its goal of decreasing Downtown’s drive-alone rate to 30 percent by 2016. Commute Seattle has focused its efforts for over ten years on Downtown businesses and property owners, helping them develop commute programs and incentives for their employees. As transit service continues to improve with Proposition 1 improving Metro service within Seattle, new Link light rail extensions on the way, and improved bicycle infrastructure, we expect these positive trends to continue.

Medium sized businesses (20-99 employees) led the way, reducing their drive-alone rate from 37 percent to 30 percent, nearly matching the 27 percent drive-alone rate among Downtown’s largest companies (100+ employees). “These results validate our strategic focus on Downtown’s small businesses,” said Commute Seattle Executive Director Jessica Szelag. “They reaffirm our commitment to ensure that the benefits of transit are shared by all commuters regardless of the size of their employer.”

Though the rate of driving alone declined, rapid job growth means that total traffic volumes are roughly equivalent to 2012, indicating a road network approaching full capacity. However, the overwhelming majority of new job growth is being accommodated by transit, walking, and bicycling.

“Downtown will only continue to grow and thrive if people can get here reliably, and Downtown businesses understand the need for faster, more reliable transit,” says Downtown Seattle Association President & CEO Jon Scholes. “We will continue to work to ensure that Downtown remains the region’s best place to live, work, shop, and play.”

“Seattle has great talent and the business climate to generate new jobs, but we must not let gridlock stifle that growth,” said Seattle Mayor Ed Murray. “We’re making the right investments and we must continue to provide the transportation choices that keep these trends moving in the right direction.”

“More commuters than ever are taking advantage of the reliable transit service we provide to Downtown Seattle,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine, who is also Chair of the Sound Transit Board of Directors. “Our region’s prosperity relies on people’s ability to get to and from work each day, so it’s critical that we build the transportation systems needed to keep up with our growing population.”

About Commute Seattle
Commute Seattle is a not-for-profit Transportation Management Association. Our mission is to help Downtown users live more and drive less by improving access and mobility in Downtown Seattle. We are a public-private partnership of the Downtown Seattle Association, Seattle Department of Transportation, and King County Metro. For more information about Commute Seattle, visit www.commuteseattle.com

[1] The study evaluated peak-hour weekday commute trips that arrived in Center City between 6-9am. Center City includes the Commercial Core, Belltown, Denny Triangle, Uptown, South Lake Union, First Hill, Capitol Hill, the International District, and Pioneer Square.
[2] Employment data are from the Puget Sound Regional Council and the Downtown Seattle Association.
[3] Public Transit includes: bus, commuter rail, light rail, streetcar, and walk-on ferry
[4] Drive alone includes: solo driving, motorcycle, and drive-on ferry
[5] Ridesharing includes: carpool, vanpool

59 Replies to “Just 31% of Downtown Workers Drive Alone”

  1. Point well taken; decreasing SOV travel percentage does not necessarily translate to lower traffic volumes. But growth is not the only factor that could lead to increasing volumes with decreasing SOV share.

    What my quick read seems to indicate is missing from the post is the effect of tolling on SR520. This is generally recognized as having some positive effects of small shifts to transit and ride share with accompanying benefits of time shifting for other commuters. However tolls on SR520 have also resulted in some toll evasion. Generally speaking, even a small increase in Local VMT can result in large increases in congestion when the effected road is operating near capacity.

    Thus I suspect tolls on SR520 have resulted in decreasing SOV share while simultaneously increasing congestion on key regional roads.

    The solution is pretty simple though: Toll I-90 and restore balance to the cross-lake commute. This would reduce the increase in congestion on I-5/I-405/I-90 while continuing to decrease SOV mode share. And it wouldn’t cost anything.

    1. The biggest factors, I’m sure, are light rail in the Rainier Valley and, um, “demographic changes” in the Valley

      1. Light rail on all corridors is supposed to increase percentage of passengers who won’t be forced to bring their cars into places where both driving and parking are expensive and unpleasant.

        Central LINK is only the beginning of the first of three lines, and naturally serves Downtown as its north terminal. The size and activity of the CBD has always made the place a main center for some kind of transit.

        One recent-memory thing the DSTT has definitely cured: the glacially-moving “Wall of Buses” that took more time to travel than the longest commute home from Downtown.

        But if I read you right, MRB, I don’t at all like the fact that few of my Route 7 passengers of 20 years ago can afford to live in Columbia City now.

        Though most of them were people whose hard work should have entitled them to have decent homes there. And ride all LINK branches wherever they wanted.

        The Empire Cafe on Edmunds half block east of Rainier has excellent coffee, and tables for laptop word in a beautiful outdoor court.

        The Safari Njema -run by some very hard-working people from Kenya, including a lady who used to drive for her own trucking firm back home, is my favorite place in town. I used to live in Tanzania.

        So “gentrification” doesn’t exactly fit- these people pay their bills too often to be classic gentry. Problem is not their presence- but the fact that so many people of equal character had to move so wealthier people could enjoy these places.

        Reason I keep trying to edge a new Industrial Revolution into transit discussions and still stay on topic. Forty years of Information Technology have somehow missed the historic information as to what happens when so many poor people have to look at so few highly-visibly rich ones.

        And to the point here, present habit of considering this country’s unbelievably unfair income distribution as irrelevant to transit discussions is as dangerous to transit as its results are to passengers on late night station platforms.

        The scared rich elect reps whose constituents’ chief mobility demand is gates. And the scared workers alive only by debt vote worse yet. And refuse to come Downtown at all, generally “SOSUV!”

        Mark Dublin

    2. “The solution is pretty simple though: Toll I-90 and restore balance to the cross-lake commute. This would reduce the increase in congestion on I-5/I-405/I-90 while continuing to decrease SOV mode share. And it wouldn’t cost anything.”

      Yes I can see it decreasing cross-lake congestion, but I think you’re fooling people if you think that SOV usage won’t spill out onto 405 and 5. People will evade and they do already. The traffic congestion has already increase on I-5 and I-405 as people evade 520 from the north end. You take away I-90 and you introduce more evasion from SOVs on the south end as they are now required to use 405 and 5 as the only options to not pay a toll and get into Seattle DT.

      1. That is what is happening now. People who are toll evading on SR520 are driving past it and going to I-90 instead. Thus traffic volumes have gone up on I5 and I405 (between the bridges) and also on I90 across the lake. Put tolls on I-90 and you reduce congestion on all these routes. And you further encourage non-SOV modes and time shifting. And you do it at zero net cost.

        And, yes, there will still be some people who fare evade by going all the way around the lake, but those roads aren’t nearly as impacted as the central corridor freeways.

  2. So 55% of the people do not drive to work in downtown. Sounds like we are ripe for a change of infrastructure and priorities going to the majority. I think it also shows what can be done with pricing and freebies.

    I have a free orca card and I still cycle to work everyday.

      1. The sample size was over 50,000 once you add the CTR-affected group. That seems big enough to me, but then I’m not a statistician. I’m going to guess you aren’t either.

      2. Small sample size does not equate to the results being “false”. It only means the results are more reliable.

        And I wouldn’t call 50,000 small.

      3. I hope you mean “less reliable.” Small sample size means you could, by chance, pick unrepresentative people.

      4. Correct. I started to write “more unreliable” and then tried to change to “less reliable” but only made half the change before hitting send.

        Yes, smaller means less reliable, but 50,000 isn’t what I would call small…..

  3. Nothing surprising in the report, and much hopeful. Worth noting how few people ride-share. I think this is because of all modes, this one is least flexible. It’s not a substitute for transit.

    The constricted building space and right-of-way in this region- safely- buildable areas- meaning open spaces not subject to flooding, slides, and quake damage- mirror same shortage for surface corridors.

    But Downtown Seattle is both a compact and attractive place to live and locate, creating the natural environment for transit use. And in Seattle, the votes to pay for it.

    The lack of safe sprawl makes transit popular. But it also makes every transit line hard, slow, and expensive to build. Would sooner use NorthLINK tunnel as positive tunneling example than “Bertha”. And remember we dug the DSTT in two years, after a year’s utility relocation.

    On balance, growth plus constriction strongly favors transit, by providing the need for it, and the votes to build and support it. We’re in a very early phase of the same magnitude land use shift as the one that put cars on the throne seventy years ago.


    “Yet the smallest companies (1-20 employees) are still largely left out, with a relatively high drive-alone rate of 41%.”

    Curable and demanding cure, because low transit figure is doubtless caused by small enterprises’ inability to afford the rents in the compact urban areas so well served by transit. At serious cost to Seattle, both in character, employment, and taxes.

    Our new Waterfront is an excellent example of both deficiency and remedy. The project is obviously stressed to find contributors both building and operating the finished project.

    But every photo of the waterfront a few decades back shows the place packed with contributors, then called shipping and manufacturing firms, and their employees.

    My feeling is that an infusion of small metal and woodworking shops, clothing makers, breweries, distillers, and roasters could be woven quite comfortably into the recreational spaces.

    Bringing the new neighborhood to badly-needed life, which in turn will be a powerful draw for tourists. And also make returned street rail a very good idea.

    Remember also that Seattle’s complete Waterfront follows the shoreline of Elliott Bay from Alki to Magnolia- and possibly includes Bainbridge Island.

    An electric freight railroad serving future development of this whole round corridor would be a strong and productive engine for the next Waterfront Streetcar to be part of.

    And a fine example for the rest of the city to imitate over the next seven decades.

    Mark Dublin

  4. I am always amazed at the number of SOV’s I see during my AM bike commute to downtown. How do drivers afford the parking? My building’s parking costs $33 a day, not sure what the monthly rate is — $300+ I guess? Cost to own a nice car is like $9000 to $7000 a year.

    You could retire a couple years early by using a bike and transit…

    1. There’s a few garages or lots that only charge $11/day but you have to be willing to walk a bit further depending on where you work. Still way more then the cost of an ORCA monthly pass though.

    2. Many of those SUV’s are full of business materials being presentd to customers. I am one of the self-employed people who must use a vehicle for my daily business. I drive more than 40,000 miles per year for my business.

      It is necessary and I deserve respect.

      1. I can accept that there are situations (mostly transporting materials) that require driving even to and around downtown.

        I cannot accept the use of apostrophes to denote pluralization.

      2. I think are a number of reasons why people drive downtown. I used to work downtown and I took the bus most of the time. But I also drove on days I played soccer. The games were on Queen Anne, and the bus wasn’t very good, nor were the alternatives (rental cars, cabs, etc.). I also know people who have to visit folks in the evening. This is why a good overall system is important. We already have a good transit system for going downtown. But if you want to go somewhere during the day, or visit somewhere after work, it is a big hassle. Link will help. If I lived in Roosevelt but wanted to go to Capitol Hill after work, it would be a big hassle today. I would have to take two buses at night, or take a cab home. No thanks, I would rather drive. But in a few years, that process will be really easy. I’m not saying it will eliminate all the reasons people drive (the need to have a bunch of stuff, as RJones said, is not going away). But the other reasons will, or at least will be greatly reduced.

        That is why just focusing on transit to downtown is so misguided. It is very easy to get downtown, and quite easy to get back (at rush hour). But try and get from Ballard or Fremont to Northgate or Lynnwood and you are in for a big hassle. UW to Ballard light rail would eliminate that, and greatly reduce the number of people who drive. We need to build a network of fast buses and fast trains that work together well.

      3. Rjones, we’re closer together on problem of obtaining transportation-related respect than you might think.

        I live in Olympia, but generally have to come into Seattle at least twice a week. My only car is an older-model hybrid sedan, which I really love. Odometer presently reads 155,000.

        My car burns regular, at 50 mpg on a clear freeway. But 120 mile round trips burn up a lot of miles- which due to increased maintenance are much more expensive than gas.

        I can’t afford to replace this car, even if I wanted to. If I could set a time-frame now, I need my car to stay in good condition at least four years more- hoping that the hybrid replacement battery I just bought will last until its $4000 cost is paid off.

        It’s possible and not very hard to take transit the whole way. The trip takes two hours- exactly twice what it should. Hopefully next ST extension can fix this.

        Though after a year’s experience, I can have a trip I enjoy, generally with a coffee break in Tacoma and a LINK ride Downtown.

        The disrespect starts at Union Station, when I have to keep a dental appointment in Ravenna, or an eye appointment in either Ballard or on Queen Anne Hill. On Metro, any of these takes longer from Downtown than the trip from Tacoma to Seattle.

        With my Senior ORCA Card, the transit cost is pennies. I should and would pay more. But cab fare ranges from $15 to $20. For destinations directly on major bus routes! I bill my self-employment time at $25 an hour.

        Transit or cab ride, hourly or distance is still $50. As a professional driver, I deeply respect Orange Cab and its drivers, many from East Africa. But a main transit route should let me use the buses I already pay taxes for.

        Right now, number of cars in Seattle- and permanently-jammed freeway- damages both our livelihoods and our vehicles. Presence of my car multiplied threatens your living.

        Not only do I not want to fight to use my car, but savagely against being forced to use and destroy it. But if your work absolutely relies on carrying freight… I wonder if truck rules could be adjusted to benefit you.

        Your use is a small percentage of all Downtown car traffic. So I think that reserved lanes for buses would help you by giving traveling passengers a faster ride than their cars do now. Making coercion unnecessary for most of us.

        Leaving more room to accommodate those whose living depends on keeping their vehicle with them.

        Mark Dublin

      4. Couple of months ago there was a guy on MAX with a hand truck with three banker’s boxes of paper documents from a photocopy place.

        You do whatever works.

      5. Back when I owned a car, I would actually drive to downtown for an oil change and car wash at the Honda dealer, only ride the 545 to Redmond for work, then do the reverse in the afternoon. With the 545 stopping ride outside the dealer, it was actually quite convenient. Coming from Seattle, other options did not have nearly as good bus service to get to work after dropping off the car. And, of course, with all the money I was already spending, I didn’t have to pay any extra for parking.

      6. When I rode the San Diego Trolley, I saw quite a few people with hand trucks/granny carts loaded with equipment and tools on the train; some of them commute in from Tijuana. Transit won’t work for every business case but for the cases that it does work, it means one less car in your way.

        When I worked downtown I often had to go out to do field work using a fleet car. The cars were parked in a garage in the next block which means the access time penalty was significant. I would have to ride the elevator down to the lobby, walk outside, cross the street, ride the garage elevator up to the floor where the car was parked, and then drive the car slowly down ramps a few floors to the exit. The process is repeated in reverse when I return. Even though I paid nothing out of my pocket it was still annoying but it was necessary because my field visits can be all over the city.

        Because of that access penalty, driving makes little sense for short trips within and near downtown (even with free guaranteed parking!). For intra-downtown trips and errands, you are most likely better off walking, biking (Pronto-ing), or riding transit.

      7. You sort of get that time penalty for taking transit in the transit tunnel because of all the stairs and escalators. I’m not saying that it should have been done differently, but shoving all services 100 feet underground isn’t necessarily going to solve too much due to that time penalty.

        For the price of a second transit tunnel, it might be worth looking at what could be accomplished at eliminating transit obstacles on the surface. Sure, there are no easy fixes, but the cost of that tunnel isn’t going to be easy nor cheap.

    3. Downtown is filled with people in professional services. Those services bill out at high $100s (paralegal, engineer, PR associate) to $500s for specialized attorneys. at those types of time costs to firms, the time penalty of transit is a big deal. ST north link can move the needle on some of these trips by being faster than driving, but I suspect 20% SOV is about the lowest seattle can go in the hear term. SLU needs some serious service increases.

  5. That’s a pretty wide definition of Downtown. I don’t think most people consider First Hill, Little Saigon or Uptown/LQA “downtown”. Or maybe they do and I’m just confused.

    Anyway, I wish they had broken the data out not just by home geography (which is interesting) but by worksite geography. I bet people in LQA take the bus a lot less than First Hill and the Commercial core, and it’d be nice to see it broken down.

    1. The report actually does just what you’re looking for. The report looks at both home and worksite geography, but the worksite geography data is much more granular. The neighborhood descriptions listed in the above post (22% Downtown core, 46% SLU, etc) are in fact worksite geography (see page 15 here).

      1. Sorry, I meant further expanded into home destination pairs, the full cross product. So home = bellevue, worksite=LQA, home = bellevue. worksite = first hill, etc. etc.

    2. I knew someone who wanted to move “downtown”, but when I asked him further he meant essentially somewhere between Greenwood and Columbia City. So it all depends on your scale perspective. Officially downtown is between Yesler and Stewart, although some people would say Yesler and Denny, but that sounds ridiculous when highrise offices are going into SLU and Metro has peak espress routes to First Hill. Nowadays the city is using “Center City” to refer to the higher-density area between Mercer – 12th – Weller. And if you step out to a national or international perspective, people say “Seattle” referring to the entire metropolitan area. So the strictest small defintion of downtown makes sense only from a historical perspective or when comparing several neighborhoods together, but it doesn’t address how people function. They go to the wider downtown for “downtown activities” — work, shopping, recreation.

      1. I did know a guy a long time ago who was from the sticks somewhere and though the UD was “downtown Seattle”

  6. Strong showing for walking, the forgotten stepchild of commuting. The trends (+10% for walking, -6% for cycling) from 2012 to 2014 are interesting. My theory is that the increased residential development in downtown and SLU is allowing more people to live so close to work that walking is the obvious commute choice. Walking isn’t free, however – you’re paying for that proximity in higher housing costs.

    SLU’s higher SOV numbers must partially reflect Amazon’s subsidized employee parking, not just the less-convenient transit options. I don’t think any other big CBD employers offer free parking as a fringe benefit.

    1. I completely agree with your first paragraph. That is the biggest benefit of density. Folks not only walk to work (sometimes) but they most certainly walk to the park, or walk to dinner, or walk to the club, etc.

      South Lake Union is in an odd spot. It could certainly be considered part of downtown, but from a transit perspective, it is awkward. I used to work on Dexter, in an area some might consider part of South Lake Union (the old WRQ building). I have no patience for buses, and would get off downtown, and then walk to work. Of course, the bus would pass me right about the time I got within sight of my office. I’m sure most South Lake Union workers can relate. If you are coming from far away, or the south, this is how you get to work. But if you are coming from Fremont, or Ballard, or Queen Anne, then you are in an awkward spot. You can take the bus, which takes forever, or drive a very short distance. Traffic is bad, but not horrible.

      But yes, free parking does contribute to more people driving. I can say that is definitely true of Fremont (where free parking is not that hard to find). I’m not so sure about South Lake Union, but if companies are supplying it, then it plays a part. Mostly, though, it is simply a result of very bad public transportation. If it was fast and easy to take a bus, more people would.

      1. Very true, the expansive defnition of “SLU” has gobbled up the fringe areas like Dexter and Eastlake that are really awkward to get to. The big new Facebook office on Dexter is going to be a tough commute destination, unless you live in Fremont or Wallingford. It will be interesting to see how many of those workers will take transit or walk/cycle to work vs. drive, given the awkward location. I’m sure more than a few will live on Capitol Hill, but that transit commute requires a downtown connection or the joyous experience that is the 8 through SLU.

    2. When I worked at Amazon, parking wasn’t free. It was subsidised.

      I think you are right about walking, which explains Belltown’s high walk data.

      1. Isn’t the parking subsidy pretty substantial, then? I thought it was free but I could certainly be wrong. Most of the Amazon people I know live really close to work or don’t own cars so I haven’t heard much about it from them, except that there was a waiting list for parking.

        It does seem odd that a famously frugal company would subsidize parking, which is not a particularly efficient use of resources.

    3. Part of the problem with SLU is that peak-period expresses, by and large, don’t serve it, requiring either a 15-20 minute walk or a transfer to a bus or streetcar that, including wait time, is not really any faster than walking.

      One interesting solution that the folks at Metro are looking at is, with the introduction of U-link, whether some peak express trips down the 520 corridor can serve South Lake Union, rather than going straight to downtown, under the theory that people headed to the real downtown would get off in the U-district and ride Link. The proposal I’ve seen calls for such buses (this is just a subset, not all of the peak expresses headed to downtown) to exit the freeway at Montlake, then serve the Link Station, and the bus stops on Pacific St., before turning south on the I-5 express lanes. Besides serving the U-district, it also avoids the hazard of cutting across 4 lanes of traffic on I-5 very quickly to reach the Mercer St. exit from the 520 off-ramp.

      They are also entertaining the idea of a peak-period Northgate->Maple Leaf->Roosevelt->SLU express route that would take the I-5 express lanes from Green Lake P&R to Mercer St.

  7. No one measures trucks and suppliers moving in and out of Seattle during the nights and days. Individuals who meet clients downtown must drive, when I meet someone at lunch or at 10:30 in their office, no one counts my presence.

    Single occupant drivers must have parking, and easy access parking at a reasonable rate.

    1. Downtown is showing that it has room for about ~70,000 daily cars. Suppose in the next decade or so we grow to have 300,000 downtown jobs rather than 228,000. Just to keep traffic at the same level as today, we’d need a 23% drive-alone rate.

      There are lots of people who need personal or commercial vehicles for work, those delivering goods, lawyers bouncing between courtrooms all over the County, etc,,. But all of you in that boat should rejoice that 9-5ers are making room for you by choosing transit, walking, and biking when it works for them. Even a person who must drive every single day would rather have everyone else not doing so, yes? No one likes traffic.

    2. No, “reasonable rate” is not necessarily part of the equation. There is nothing in the economics of our transportation system that says that the rate for anything should be anything more or less than the market rate, or the market rate plus fees..

      But, ya, if you need it for your business, then it is a business expense. Either pass the cost on to your customers, or figure out how to do the same thing at lower cost.

      Nobody should be immune to the basic economics of owning/operating a car. Pay the full price of operating our SUV or figure out a better way. it’s the same as what all us other schmucks do on a daily basis and we can’t pass the cost on to others.

      Just because you need something for “business” doesn’t entitle you to a break or charity at the expense of everyone else.

      1. This.

        I drive, out of necessity (as do most people in our office) as we are engineers and architects and are constantly visiting different construction sites. These are, as you might imagine, located predominantly in areas like downtown/SLU/Ballard/Cap Hill etc. They are all generally difficult to park in and certainly to get to and around.

        Nobody I know here has ever thought there should be some sort of subsidy or guaranteed “inexpensive” parking. It is what it is. We have to pass the costs along but that’s part of capitalism and is understood by all parties. If the rates go up, we’ll have to charge more as well. So be it.

        That said, we’re moving from Bellevue to DT Seattle this year which will mean bus instead of car for most of us on days that we do not need to be in the field. Bus pass covered, parking not (except on field days). Win-win!

    3. I wonder whether businesses themselves couldn’t coordinate deliveries so that as many as possible could be made at night.

      Also: I noted that for a regional trip, I’ll use two services. Incidentally, I take the 8AM Sounder out of Tacoma. But in addition, because evening service southbound from Tacoma stops at ten to nine, I’ll often park at Tacoma Dome station- excellent parking garage, clean and well-patrolled.

      This cuts my trip in half. 60 mile round trip instead of 120. Also, can relax about last half of trip home at night. Over the years, this really has been my general work day pattern: drive the car only as much as I must to get to transit.

      To me, avoidable wear and tear on both my car and my peace of mind is an intolerable expense.

      For the last six or seven years, I’ve been doing contract computer drafting for small firms. I wish MAC could handle SolidWorks, but presently require a Dell Precision M6700 with a 17″ screen. Weights as much as a car battery.

      Wish it were lighter, because I really enjoy a workday where my office is series of cafes with wi-fi and quality coffee. Excellent heavy duty backpack lets me handle transit just fine. But at present age, spirit willing but skeleton cracking. Too bad last (expensive) wheeled pack I got left some dents.

      Glenn, it’s true that like all low-floor street rail, MAX- and LINK- can handle small office loads from certain points to certain others. But any non-linear or multiple destination trip is a problem. Reverse question is interesting, though: could transit run motorized delivery services, like CBD to airport, carrying luggage that now blocks LINK aisles?

      In Chicago 60 years ago, most small grocers “delivered.” CTA cars at rush hour barely had space for a brief case, let alone a hand-trolley. Would definitely clear traffic- and save parking space- around modern malls.

      I think needs like the one under discussion are manageable- and temporary. A good public transit network can make some freight portable on transit- but its main assist to street freight,semi and SUV, will be to get private cars of its way.


      1. I once read a blog discussion about how people get large batches of groceries and furniture and other bulky items home in Boston or New York where people don’t have cars and there’s no place to park. Somebody said, “Oh, that’s easy, you just get them delivered.” Another mentioned taking a taxis from the supermarket. I was floored by these because I always considered deliveries and taxis as ultra-expensive add-ons to be avoided if at all possible. But I guess in a dense city where there’s always somebody getting a delivery, there’s an economy of scale that makes it a more reasonable option.

        (This was before the “Buy everything at Amazon” model had taken off, which may be the trend now.)

    1. Great idea for a posting: See how many different numbers for bus routes people can make up!

      Also, for every number, creator has to describe the route, which does not have to be completely on the Planet Earth or limited by three dimensions. But Downtown Seattle time-points have to be accurately described and divided by peak-off-peak.

      Same for home planet and residential eon of every passenger. Though could be problem describing an SOV if car exists in multiple space time continuums.

      Write the posting, Sam!


      1. Oh, the other 5% are “downtown hardly workers”.

        (Actually, there is fine print above the percentages graphic that confirms Dan’s suggestion, though requires reverse-engineering the math in order to do so.)

    1. I have a friend who commutes from Wallingford to SLU by paddleboard. I know another guy who commutes via skateboard.

  8. This is great news but i don’t think it offers a full picture, especially, when it comes to bike commuting. I already glanced at the infamous ST comment section that is full of rage about the low downtown bike rates. For one thing, in a city full of people that own cars and have a plethora of imperfect alternative transit options (compared to NYC where you are more attached to one form of transit), people switch up their commute often. Heck, how many people on this blog bike to work seasonally or whenever it happens to be convenient but would not list it as their form of transit? Looking at how many people bike to work as their main mode of transit and excluding the occasional riders, paints a very incomplete picture. Furthermore, although 2nd Ave is a HUGE improvement, it is still a bike infrastructure island that is very difficult to access unless you live downtown or in Capitol Hill. I would be very curious if they included Fremont and the U-District in this survey where there are a lot less bus routes, no train line, but excellent bike infrastructure. I work in Fremont and bike year round–the number of riders I see crossing the Fremont Bridge, even in the middle of “winter”, makes me feel, for a second, like I’m living in a Scandinavian city.

    1. I imagine there are also commuters who regularly bike to work, but may occasionally ride the bus or drive if situations require them to do so. They would still count as regulars in the bike category. It may very well average out. The most locked-in are drivers and transit users – once you buy the monthly parking permit or transit pass, marginal costs are relatively low (or $0 for transit riders). Cycling and walking don’t have monthly financial commitments, so I imagine there is less lock-in and more mode choice flexibility.

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