When it comes to commuting, we may be winning the War on Cars in Seattle proper, but pretty much everyone else in the Puget Sound region is still driving to their free parking at work every day.
According to the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC), 63 percent of commuters drive to work alone. The figure comes from the PSRC’s recently released 2017 Household Travel Survey, the latest in a series of biannual studies of travel behavior in King, Pierce, Snohomish, and Kitsap Counties.
But the story is very different in Seattle proper. According to the survey’s study of general-purpose travel in the city, transit is the most popular motorized mode, with a 25 percent share. Walking is the most popular mode, with a 34 percent share, with 2% of respondents primarily biking.
Only 20 percent of surveyed Seattle residents primarily drive alone, while 18 percent drive with passengers. All told, 61 percent of Seattleites favor green transportation for general use.
Outside the city, all that driving is subsidized by employers. According to the survey, 82 percent of workers in the region can use “free” parking spaces at work—spaces that are subsidized by the employer via lease or property ownership.
Meanwhile, only 35 percent of respondents knew that their employer offered some sort of transit subsidy, and only about half of those people—17 percent of the total, regional survey group—took advantage of the benefit. 16 percent of respondents didn’t know whether their employer offered a benefit one way or the other.
Of course, the main culprit for car dependency is, as always, low-density land use. Even in “regional growth centers” outside Seattle—i.e. Everett and Tacoma’s urban villages, and suburbs’ town centers— transit and walking each separately account for 14 percent of all trips. In the suburbs and exurbs outside those town centers, walking and transit only account for 9 percent and 7 percent of trips, respectively.
But the fight goes on, and the right side is winning: the Puget Sound region remains one of the only metro areas in the United States with a growing (or stable) transit mode share. With terrible traffic only getting worse, and significant regional investments in transportation on the way, the PSRC “expect[s] an increase in transit and walking” in the future.