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City employees aren’t all buying into Seattle’s own traffic program

The City of Seattle didn't rank as well as some might think in its own traffic program. (KIRO 7)

For a city that can’t handle more vehicles on its roads, it sure is surprising that its employees aren’t doing a better job at using alternative modes of transportation.

Related: Murray announces millions in Seattle road work

In the recently released awards for the Commute Trip Reduction program, the City of Seattle essentially gave itself a “Bronze” award. The award highlights and encourages city employees to cut down on driving in cars alone.

“This 20 year partnership between the City and Seattle-based employers has yielded great results: 66% of commuters from participating businesses now use alternatives such as transit, walking, carpooling, bicycling, or telecommuting,” a statement on the city’s website reads. “These efforts are good for the City, for your employees, and for your business.”

Seattle’s best commuters – according to the City of Seattle — are the Gates Foundation and Stoel Rives LLP. But shouldn’t the city also boast platinum or at least gold status?

Points for the program are awarded based on several factors, which includes lowering the “Drive Alone Rate” of a company, taking advantage of transit programs, and conveying transportation information regularly. An entire list for the scoring system can be viewed here.

Just a few months ago, Scott Kubly, director for the Seattle Department of Transportation, said the city was already overloaded with vehicles.

“The City of Seattle can’t handle any more cars than we currently have,” Kubly told TransitCenter. “Our mode split needs to go from 30 percent SOV [single-occupancy vehicle] to 25 percent SOV and the lion’s share of that is going to be carried on the bus.”

The goal for the transportation program is to reduce the number of solo drivers in the city by 10 percent between 2012 and 2017.

Seattle has never needed congestion relief more than it does now. According to the latest INRIX traffic scorecard, the city ranked 23rd overall for the time drivers spent in congestion. It ranked 10th out of 240 cities in the U.S. and 11th out of 310 cities in North America. The scorecard analyzed congestion in 1,064 cities in 38 countries. It should be noted that the INRIX data doesn’t include China.

According to the Kirkland-based company, Seattle drivers spent 13 percent of their time in congestion last year. A total of 54.8 peak hours were in congestion.

Los Angeles, according to INRIX, has the worst congestion; drivers spent more than 100 hours in traffic jams last year.

A separate data-driven study released by TomTom ranks Seattle fourth worst for congestion in the country and 53rd worst in the world.

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