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Downtown Seattle Commuters Increasingly Walking, Biking, and Riding Transit
New Survey Finds Two-Thirds of Downtown Commuters Are Not Driving Alone
SEATTLE – Downtown Seattle’s 200,000 daily commuters are driving less and less, with two-thirds (66%) now choosing not to drive alone to work. A new Commute Seattle survey conducted by Gilmore Research Group reveals that only 34 percent of employees drive alone[1], down from 35 percent in 2010 and an estimated 50 percent in 2000. The top choice for those who work in Downtown Seattle remains public transit[2] (43%), followed by driving alone (34%), ridesharing[3] (9%), walking (6%), teleworking (4%), and bicycling (3%). Rail[4], bicycling, teleworking, and walking are the fastest growing commute modes, showing that public investments in these areas are paying dividends. Since 2010, rail mode share increased by 21%, bicycling increased by 18%, teleworking increased by 11%, and walking increased by 7%. Compared to 2010, approximately 1,350 more bicyclists and 1,560 more walkers now commute Downtown daily[5]. The results show that Commute Seattle is making steady progress toward its strategic goal of decreasing the drive-alone rate to 30 percent by 2016. Commute Seattle has focused its efforts for eight years on businesses and property owners, helping them develop commute programs for their Downtown employees. “Downtown businesses are playing an integral role in reducing drive-alone commute trips by investing in valuable employee commuter benefits, like ORCA passes and improved bike amenities,” says Downtown Seattle Association President & CEO Kate Joncas. “We are grateful to these businesses and to the agencies that play an active role in connecting their employees with the varied set of commute options in Downtown.” In addition to strong support in the Downtown business community, Commute Seattle points to additional factors driving these positive trends. Link Light Rail ridership has continued to mature, private businesses have funded increased South Lake Union Streetcar service, King County Metro has enhanced the productivity of its bus network, and Seattle has begun investing in bike facilities such as the Dexter Avenue buffered bike lanes.

“A thriving Center City needs a transportation system that gives people choices,” said Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn. “People like to live and work in places where they can walk, bike and ride transit. Seattle has a reputation as a forward-thinking community, and providing these options to commuters will help us attract and retain jobs.” King County Metro estimates that if Downtown employees drove to work alone at the same rate they did in 2000, CO2 emissions would increase by 28,000 metric tons annually. “As our region continues to grow, the quality of life for future generations depends on sustainable and robust funding for transit,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “A strong transit system will enable us to preserve our environment while fostering a strong economy.” “In a competitive job market, employees highly value workplaces that provide transit benefits,” said Evelyn Root, division office manager at KPFF Consulting Engineers. “Whether as part of a broader sustainability strategy or as an economical alternative to providing additional parking, public transit is a win-win for Downtown business.” The City of Seattle, the Downtown Seattle Association and King County recently announced a partnership to improve safety and reliability on Third Avenue, a vital transit corridor currently used by more than 40,000 riders per day. These and other transit improvements in the coming years will make Downtown even more attractive for commuters. About Commute Seattle Commute Seattle is a not-for-profit commuter service organization working to reduce drive-alone commuter trips in an effort to improve access to and through Downtown Seattle. The organization is a partnership of the Downtown Seattle Association, City of Seattle Department of Transportation, and King County Metro. Commute Seattle enhances Downtown’s attractiveness as a place to do business by providing transportation options that help commuters access Downtown easily and without delay. For more information about Commute Seattle, visit

[1] Drive alone includes: solo driving, motorcycle, and drive-on ferry [2] Public Transit includes: bus, commuter rail, light rail, streetcar, and walk-on ferry [3] Rail is a subset of transit and includes: commuter rail, light rail, and streetcar [4] Ridesharing includes: carpool, vanpool [5] Estimated by multiplying the selected mode split by employment for 2011 (196,648) and 2010 (183,521) and subtracting the difference.

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