Commute Seattle has released their 2019 mode split survey, and it shows a slightly higher percentage of single occupancy vehicle (SOV) drivers compared to last year, while remote work increased substantially, despite the fact that the survey was conducted well in advance of the 2020 Coronavirus semi-quarantine or Connect 2020. Transit use unfortunately decreased for the first time, on a percentage basis.
SOV trips slightly reversed their remarkable downward trend, though Commute Seattle’s Kevin Futhey told the Times that this might be due to a methodology tweak that counts Uber and Lyft as solo drivers if they only have one passenger (a smart move, I’d add).
Meanwhile, telecommuting shot up from 3.3% in 2017 to 5.7% versus 2017 and Commute Seattle notes that at least 14% of downtown workers telecommute at least one day per week.
Transit use, which was on its way to breaking 50%, has stalled out. While increasing in absolute numbers, ridership seems to be bumping up against a limit, despite increased investments in service hours. Since the total number of jobs downtown is growing, the number of absolute riders is probably increasing as well, but the share is down.
The report doesn’t speculate as to why, but I’d wager the Alaskan Way construction played a big role, along with generally worsening congestion in the downtown core and an overall lack of bus lane enforcement. The rise in employer shuttles may have played a role as well — they account for less than 3% of trips overall but could be eating away at transit use on the margins.
On a slightly interesting methodological note, the survey makers have re-jiggered the boundaries of “downtown” to match other city data. This pulled in parts of Eastern Capitol Hill while deleting the outer edges of Queen Anne and the International District. It doesn’t seem like this affected the data too much, but commenters can tell me why I’m wrong.