Center city mode split results

Every two years Commute Seattle conducts a study on how morning commuters get to and through downtown. This year’s results show that more than 70 percent of downtown’s estimated 247,000 daily commuters opt for transit, ridesharing (carpool/vanpool), biking, walking or teleworking – leaving less than 30 percent of commuters to drive alone to work. That continues a strong downward trend in solo driving from 35 percent in 2010 and 34 percent in 2012 and 31 percent in 2014.

2016 Mode Split breakdown


The growth in terms of people

The drop to a 30% drive alone rate represents a win for the city and region, yet the percentage alone doesn’t provide the full picture. Seattle is one of the fastest growing cities in the country, having added 45,000 jobs from 2010 to 2016. We have limited space for road expansion and a rail transit system that is not yet fully built out. Nonetheless 95 percent of the net increase in daily commute trips have been absorbed by transit, rideshare, biking and walking. Today there are 31,000 more daily peak transit commuters, 9,000 additional non-motorized commuters, and 2,300 more vanpool/carpool riders since 2010. During that same period of time, single occupancy vehicle trips to downtown increased by only 2,255 during peak hours, enabling our transportation system to absorb record job growth.


Downtown daily commute trends


The public’s contribution to this success is clear. By voting in support of recent transportation initiatives the public has allowed for service expansion, safety and efficiency improvements for all modes. And they have taken action by joining the majority of people choosing smart transportation options each day. In addition the business community has made significant investments in infrastructure and transportation benefits.

The business contribution

Employers see the value of a good transportation system. Downtown employers have invested over $100 million in infrastructure and transportation benefits. Metro reports that ORCA Passport cardholders represent nearly half (46%) of all transit boardings in the region. ORCA Passport is an annual comprehensive commute benefits program offered through employers. It includes unlimited access to transit modes across the region.

For over 10 years, Commute Seattle has helped Seattle businesses of all sizes unlock their potential and empower employees to utilize convenient, affordable, and sustainable transportation options. In some cases this work includes helping employers, like MG2 with relocation to downtown Seattle. “Increasing transportation options for MG2’s employees was a key factor in our choice to move to downtown Seattle,” said CEO Mitch Smith. “Our employees now have access to the best transit and rideshare options in the region. We support our employees with benefits like free ORCA transit passes, showers and lockers because it aligns with our values and supports the health and well-being of our employees.”

As we move forward and look to create new mobility goals with our partners we will continue to support and depend on the business community’s commitment to better transportation options in Seattle.