Report: Seattle sees biggest dip in nation in solo-driving commuters

Nov 21, 2019, 10:13 AM
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Heavy traffic on Second Avenue in downtown Seattle. (Oran Viriyincy, Flickr)

According to a report from the Seattle Times, new U.S. census data indicates that Seattle saw the largest recent drop in commuters driving alone into work among the 100 largest cities in the country.

Congestion tolling should be based on why you’re driving downtown

Between 2010 and 2018, Seattle saw an 8.9 percent decrease in solo-driving commuters, followed closely by Tacoma in second place at 8 percent. That same period has also seen a massive expansion of transit options across the region, with Seattle spending the most on public transportation per capita of any major city in the U.S.

Largely driven by that expansion, over 23 percent of commuters living in Seattle used transit to get to work “most days” in 2018, a 5 percent increase from 2010. The Times also notes that 2018 was the first year in history that over 100,000 Seattle commuters used transit “on a typical day” getting to work.

Just over 44 percent of Seattle commuters drove alone to work in 2018. Over 12 percent walked (up 3.5 percent from 2010), the fourth most of any major U.S. city, behind just Boston, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco respectively. Just under 8 percent of Seattleites worked from home (up 1.1 percent), and 3.8 percent biked (up 0.2 percent).

Aside from solo driving, the only mode of transportation that saw a decrease between 2010 and 2018 was carpooling (down 1.7 percent), indicating that commuters are getting out of their cars and onto buses and light rail.

In total, Seattle featured roughly 89,000 bus commuters in 2018, in addition to 10,000 light rail riders.

Washington’s $30 car tab debacle could have been avoided entirely

This all comes as Seattle is experiencing the biggest drop in car ownership nationwide — 88.1 percent of the city’s households owner a vehicle in 2018, a 3 percent dip from 2010.

Meanwhile, Washington state and the Puget Sound region are currently staring at what could be massive holes in transportation funding created by the recent passage of I-976. As it stands right now, the $30 car tabs measure will slash $1.9 billion in state revenue over the next six years, as well as $2.3 billion in local governments in that same period.

Additionally, Seattle faces a $35 million gap in its own budget if the measure holds up to a court challenge.

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Report: Seattle sees biggest dip in nation in solo-driving commuters