Results of a new survey released by the Seattle Department of Transportation and partners at Commute Seattle show nearly half of commuters rely on public transit. According to the 2017 Center City Modesplit Survey, transit use increased by 48 percent in the last seven years in downtown Seattle during peak morning rush hour.
Public transit (bus, light rail, streetcar and train) remains the top choice for downtown commuters (48 percent), with ridesharing (carpool, vanpool) holding steady at (10 percent), walking (eight percent), bicycling (three percent) and teleworking (six percent). Conversely, the number of commuters driving alone dropped to the lowest rate since the survey began tracking trends in 2010, with a reduction of nine percent over the last year.
The survey found three main factors affecting commuter patterns downtown, including:
Expansion of transit service
Through the Seattle Transportation Benefit District, the number of Seattle residents living near frequent transit jumped from 25 percent in 2015 to 64 percent in 2017. Since the opening of the Angle Lake, Capitol Hill, and University of Washington stations, average weekday riders on the light rail system went from 38,297 in October 2015 to 73,232 in October 2017.
Efforts by employers and the business community to support better commutes
SDOT and partners at Commute Seattle work with 270 large employers in addition to many smaller worksites to promote and support investment in smart commuting solutions. The Center City Modesplit Survey indicates that large employers are maintaining high rates of shared commutes, with only 24 percent of employees driving downtown. Smaller employers are quickly catching up, with the rate of single-occupancy drivers dropping from 47 percent in 2010 to 27 percent in 2017.
New housing in Center City
New downtown housing options have made it possible for more people to walk to work, with an estimated 20,000 people getting to work by foot in the center city.
The Center City Modesplit report is typically released every two years; however, SDOT funded additional data collection this year both to better track downtown trends and to align data collection. Approximately 55,000 surveys are gathered in the Center City via SDOT’s state mandated Commute Trip Reduction (CTR) program. To this, nearly 2,000 responses from smaller employers are added to provide a full, statistically weighted picture of commute trends downtown.
For more information about the survey, please visit https://commuteseattle.com/modesplit-2017.