A ride transit month surprise

What started off as a normal day on transit for hundreds of central Puget Sound residents quickly transformed into a massive prize giveaway, with hundreds of winners.
On buses, trains, and water taxis throughout the Seattle area, transit agency staff and volunteers surprised riders by handing out prizes ranging from coffee gift cards to airline tickets. The event, Transit For The Win, took place as part of the annual Ride Transit Month celebration.

Challenge Seattle, a group comprised of the CEOs of some of our region’s top employers, provided the prizes as a way to delight and thank transit riders for the role they play in keeping our economy moving. “Challenge Seattle companies are proud to support this effort to highlight how critical high transit ridership is to easing congestion and improving our region’s quality of life,” said Challenge Seattle’s CEO, former governor Christine Gregoire. Our region is rapidly growing. Seattle is currently the fastest growing big city in the U.S. while Pierce and Snohomish counties are the two fastest growing counties. Downtown Seattle alone added 45,000 jobs in the last six years. Yet Commute Seattle’s modesplit survey shows that only 2,255 downtown peak-hour car commutes were added during this same time, with transit absorbing the majority of new commuters. By choosing transit, commuters are not only saving space on our limited roadways, they’re also helping save the environment.


“We support this celebration because providing a variety of options—including incentives to bike or take transit to work—is key to meeting the needs of our employees, while also cutting carbon and congestion,” said Sue Desmond-Hellmann, CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.



“Reducing our carbon footprint and the stress that often accompanies commuting is important to Zillow Group, which is why we cover the cost of public transit for our employees. Last year, Zillow Group employees in Seattle took nearly 300,000 free bus rides thanks to this benefit,” said Dan Spaulding, Zillow Group VP, People, and Culture. “We’re thrilled to be participating in Transit for the Win, and doing our part to contribute to the fastest transit growth in the country.”

65% of transit boardings in King County are made by riders with subsidized ORCA cards provided by businesses and institutions. These benefits, coupled with recently expanded light rail and bus service, have made the Seattle area the national leader in transit ridership growth, representing a return on investment for choices that Seattle voters, businesses and agencies have made in recent years.


Enablers of our high transit growth

● Business investment. In downtown Seattle alone, businesses invested over $100 million
supporting transit benefits and infrastructure expansion (Commute Seattle/Downtown Seattle
Association data).

● Voter Support. Regional and local voters have chosen repeatedly to invest in transit system
○ Sound Transit: Sound Move (1996), ST2 (2008), ST3 (2016)
○ City of Seattle: Seattle Transportation Benefit District (2014), Move Seattle (2015)
○ Kitsap County: Kitsap water taxi (2016)
○ Snohomish County: Proposition 1 (2015)

● Other expansion.
○ Pierce Transit major service hour expansion (2015, 2016, 2017)
Transit for the Win Prizes (#TransitFTW) were disbursed on Sound Transit’s Sounder south line, King
County Metro’s bus, Rapid Ride Lines, and water taxi, and the Seattle Streetcar.