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February 15, 2013 at 11:12 AM

Transit city: Just 34% of downtown Seattle workers drive alone, survey finds

People commuting to downtown Seattle continued their gradual shift toward public transit last year with  43 percent either riding a bus or train, or walking onto a ferry, a 1 percent increase from 2010, according to a survey released this week.

Another 9 percent of downtown’s 200,000 workers carpooled, 6 percent walked, 4 percent teleworked, and 3 percent bicycled, says Commute Seattle. Only 34 percent now drive alone, down from a Census figure of 50 percent in 2000.

The findings combined a survey of about 2,000 small and medium-sized business employees by Gilmore Research, with data from 47,000 workers collected by the state’s Commute Trip Reduction program.

Jamie Cheney, executive director of Commute Seattle, said Seattle already has a low drive-alone rate, and the cities doing better all have “robust subway systems.” She said the new data are especially significant because Seattle has added 13,000 jobs downtown in the last two years — so growth in transit is unavoidable to absorb new workers without worsening congestion. But the efficiency of King County Metro Transit is threatened in 2014-16 by expiring tax sources, conflicting demands among street users, and potential traffic diversion from Highway 99 tunnel tolls.

“We want to grow jobs in downtown Seattle,  attract more people, but we don’t want more cars. The fact is, we don’t have a place to fit them,” she said.

Commute Seattle is an affiliate of  the Downtown Seattle Association, King County Metro Transit and the Seattle Department of Transportation.

Comments | More in Traffic & Transit | Topics: downtown Seattle, transit

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