Last week I pointed to some data from Gene Balk that transit ridership was higher for lower income brackets than higher incomes, consistent with conventional wisdom but disproving the argument that transit improvements are an elite project.
But Monday’s column ($) draws the opposite conclusion:
Among Seattle-area residents with a salary of $75,000 or more, 11 percent typically took transit to get to work in 2017. That’s higher than any other income group. Less than 10 percent of workers with wages below $35,000 took transit.
I asked Mr. Balk if he could explain the discrepancy. He pointed out that the first result was 2012-2016 census data, while the latter is just for 2017. Furthermore, the scope changes from King County to the entire Metro area. The 2017 data set shows that within Seattle, poor people still use transit more than rich people.
The data doesn’t prove much more, but it’s easy to speculate. In Snohomish and Pierce Counties, intra-county commutes are easy drives and dicey transit rides. If you’re going all the way into Seattle, it’s probably both a higher-paying job and one better suited to transit.
* Just kidding.