More than 70% of Downtown Seattle Commuters Choosing Not to Drive Alone

A new Commute Seattle survey shows that more than 70 percent of downtown’s estimated 247,000 daily commuters opt for transit, ridesharing, biking, walking and teleworking – leaving less than 30 percent of commuters to drive alone to work. CS survey graphic 2-9-17

That continues a strong downward trend in solo driving from 35% in 2010 to 31% in 2014.

Commute Seattle 1Employers see the value of a good transportation system. Downtown employers have invested over $100 million in infrastructure and transportation benefits. Downtown Seattle added 45,000 jobs from 2010 to 2016, and an impressive 95% of the increase in daily commute trips have been absorbed by transit, rideshare, biking and walking.
Commute Seattle 4
In addition to private sector investment, voter-approved initiatives TransitNow, Seattle Transportation Benefit District (STBD), and the Levy to Move Seattle have provided funding for new transportation options for downtown commuters. These include City of Seattle and Metro coordinated service expansion of the RapidRide C and D lines, and implementing the 2nd Avenue and Westlake protected bike lanes, which enhance safety and bike capacity to and through downtown.

These results fulfill a 10-year goal to reduce the downtown Seattle peak commute drive-alone rate to 30%, accomplished by Commute Seattle at the direction of the Downtown Transportation Alliance (DTA)—a public-private partnership comprised of the Downtown Seattle Association, the City of Seattle (SDOT & OPCD), King County Metro and Sound Transit.


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Van Hailin’

Every year, thousands of Seattle commuters get to work using a van or carpool. Not driving single occupancy vehicles helps reduce congestion and carbon emissions – as well as being a convenient way to save on commuting costs.


But, the fee for a Vanpool parking permit hasn’t been updated in over 20 years, and has not kept up with rising costs for carpool parking or administering the program. To align these costs, and ensure the financial viability of the Vanpool program, the Seattle City Council approved a schedule for permit fee increases over the next three years.

So, is the price going up? Yes. Are Vanpool on-street parking permits still significantly cheaper than carpool or private parking? Absolutely!

Here’s the permit fee increase schedule for on-street Vanpool parking:


Location 2017 fee per month 2018 fee per month 2019 fee per month
Central Business District (CBD) $66.67 $133.33 $200
Non-CBD $33.33 $66.67 $100


We understand this represents a cost increase for Vanpool commuters, but it is important to note that Vanpool parking rates have not kept up as carpool and private parking fees increased significantly.

For a 5-person vanpool in the CBD, a rider’s parking cost in 2017 will increase from $0.33 per month to $13.33 per month. In 2019, each rider would pay $40 per month. In contrast, for a 2-person carpool in the CBD, each rider today pays $100 per month. And for a 5-person Vanpool parking off street in private lots or garages, which most do, fees are currently $300-$400 per month, or $60-80 per month per person.

It’s also important to note that 5 people is just the minimum required for a Vanpool. If you filled a Vanpool to capacity at 15 people, the permit fee per person would be just $4.44 in 2017, or $13.33 in 2019!

Of the over 800 Vanpools currently in use in Seattle, the vast majority park off-street in private lots or garages, and only about 70 park on-street and will be impacted by this fee increase.

We remain committed to Vanpooling, as well as other forms of shared transportation and transit. As our city grows, it’s increasingly important alternative forms of commuting are easy and attractive. To join a Vanpool, or start your own, check out the King County Metro page.

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Transportation Options: Carsharing

Seattle has a lot of options to get around including walking, biking, transit, driving and carsharing.

Carsharing provides on-site, on-demand access to a vehicle. Carshare systems are designed for round-trip and one-way use depending on the service provider and location, with users paying an annual membership fee and a fee for the hours rented or distance traveled.


Seattle-based ReachNow launched in April and recently added 180 cars to its Seattle fleet. ReachNow also recently announced it’s lowering the age requirement for drivers from 21 to 18.14525013057_970803ac75_k

Seattle is Car2Go’s largest U.S. market, and the service has 750 cars in the city. Car2Go launched in Seattle in 2012.


Zipcar is now offering 100 cars in their 500 car fleet that can be used for one-way trips.

All told, there are a lot of new options and services available to commuters to complete the “first and last mile” of a transit commute – the beginning or end of an individual trip made primarily by public transportation.

As carshare services become more available, they’ll increasingly complement transit service as a “first-mile/last-mile” solution and continue to give commuters new options for mobility.

For more transportation options to get around town, go here.

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Getting Around in the Rain

It’s that time of year when rainy weather and shorter, darker days are once again upon us. Bicyclists and pedestrians need to exercise extra caution and awareness when commuting to and from work.

In the Rain

Whether you’re walking or riding, it helps to know your route instead of trying to navigate on the fly. This allows you to concentrate on your surroundings and instead of looking for your next turn. SDOT maintains an excellent bike map that is updated annually, and can be used by bicyclists and pedestrians to map an effective route.

If you want to start walking or riding to work, make a couple of trial runs during daylight hours on a weekend. Or better yet, get a bicycle or walking buddy – someone who already bikes or walks to work – who can help you with suggestions for clothing or bike gear for those first few trips.

Visibility is the key – wearing bright and reflective clothing is important. Bicyclists should have flashing red tail lights and a steady white light or reflector, in front. It’s also important to be predictable and clear to others on the road of your intended path. If you’re on foot, make it clear to on-coming traffic that you’re about to step off the curb. When riding a bicycle, remember to use hand signals for all turns, stops and lane changes.


Seeing other people and objects in low-light conditions is difficult for everyone. Those who drive need to be able to perceive what they are seeing and recognize the importance of a pedestrian or bicycle rider to take necessary evasive action. Bicyclists should obey all traffic laws, and never assume the right of way.

Distractions such as electronic devices should never be used while driving or riding – in Seattle, we’ve seen a nearly 300% increase in collisions involving inattention over the last 3 years.

Remember, we are sharing the road with an increasing number of commuters, employing diverse modes of travel. Let’s look out for each other.

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SDOT Mobility Innovations First Forum on Mobility Hubs

SDOT hosted the first Mobility Innovations Forum Monday, the topic Mobility Hubs.

We’re hosting a speaker series on mobility innovations, running through mid-2017 (see below)

The City of Seattle is partnering with transit agencies and private mobility services to develop a network of shared mobility hubs throughout the city, providing better mobility and integrated transportation choices for all. Topics will include mobility hubs, smart mobility strategies for high growth in Seattle, preparing for autonomous vehicles, and making shared transportation equitable.

Scott Kubly, Director of Seattle Department of Transportation; Seleta Reynolds, General Manager of Los Angeles DOT; David Bragdon, Executive Director of TransitCenter; Sharon Feigon, Executive Director at the Shared Use Mobility Center, discussed their thoughts on mobility hubs as Ross Reynolds from KUOW, moderated the conversation.


Scott Kubly, SDOT Dir; Speakers: Seleta Reynolds; David Bragdon; Sharon Feigon; Ross Reynolds KUOW.


Scott Kubly , SDOT Dir. addresses attendees alongside featured guests.

Here’s a definition of what Mobility Hubs are:

Mobility hubs provide an integrated suite of transportation services, supporting amenities, and urban design enhancements that reduce the need for single occupant vehicle trips by increasing first mile/last mile access to high-frequency transit stations. Mobility hubs are places of connectivity where different modes of transportation such as walking, biking, ride-sharing, and public transit, cometogether seamlessly at concentrations of employment, housing, shopping, and/ or recreation.

Hub features can include: bikeshare, car share, neighborhood electric vehicles, bike parking, dynamic parking management strategies, real-time traveler information, real-time ride-sharing, demand-based shuttle, bicycle and pedestrian facility improvements, wayfinding, urban design enhancements, and supporting systems like mobile applications, electric vehicle charging, smart intersections, and a universal payment system to make it easy to access a wide range of travel options.

Please join us at the upcoming forums. More details will be posted, we appreciate your participation in the months ahead.

The preliminary schedule for future topics is:

  • January: Smart mobility strategies for high growth Seattle
  • March: Preparing for connected and autonomous vehicles
  • May: Making shared mobility equitable
  • June or July: Rethinking mobility as a service

Questions, please contact Evan Corey:

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Talk to Your Boss About Telework Week

September 19-23 is Telework Week in King County!

Telework is a way to reduce employee commute times and is seen as a big benefit by workers. King County Metro offers a free program called WorkSmart, which helps Seattle area employers create flexible commute programs.

WorkSmart’s free services include one-on-one consultations to:

  • Design a customized program
  • Help create custom presentations and marketing materials
  • Develop helpful policies, procedures, and agreements

Studies show that teleworking and flexible schedules help boost productivity and recruitment and also: reduce overhead costs, keep operations going during emergencies, improve employee morale and reduce employers’ carbon footprint.

During Telework Week, local workshops will help employers create flexible work policies for their businesses (you might actually have to show up in person though).

  • On Tuesday, Sept. 20 from 11:30am to 1 pm at the Tukwila Community Center, 12424 42nd Ave. S. Register via email:
  • On Thursday, Sept. 22, from 10am to 11am at Commute Seattle, 1809 Seventh Ave., #900, in Seattle. Register online here.

For more information you can email, or visit WorkSmart.

WorkSmart is a free, nationally recognized program sponsored by King County Metro. It offers workplace strategies to help King County companies increase employee productivity, improve business continuity and reduce carbon footprints. WorkSmart designs telework, co-working, compressed work weeks and flexible schedules for employers based in King County.


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