Focusing on mass transit over cars is best for cities, for the air, and for the ambiance. Traffic jams don’t improve city life.
Seattle citizens are focusing their attention correctly, according to recent data. Seattle added 45,000 jobs but not nearly so many car commuters in recent years. Seattle is demonstrating leadership for other cities that are trying to dispel traffic congestion and bad air, and ease the lone car rider crisis.
A new report from the nonprofit Commute Seattle showed that the share of downtown commuters who drive alone dropped from 35% in 2010 to 30% last year. Transit is absorbing many more of the new commuters.
So, why is it so unusual that Seattle added 45,000 jobs and not many car commuters? Because transforming a car city into a transit city is not so easy. Moving people from cars to transit is a challenge that requires years of dedicated work. People are set in their ways, and transportation infrastructure is difficult to change and takes a long time to dramatically alter.
Seattle Transit Blog gives us more answers on this progress, but here’s a big point: 72% of Seattle citizens live near a bus that comes every 12 minutes!
Zach Shaner gives more perspective from the ground level:
This leads me to two conclusions. First and foremost, praise is due to our transit agencies for improving service and delivering exciting new products such as University Link. Praise is due to SDOT for stepping in and greatly boosting service within the city, and praise is due to voters for approving it. Praise is due to Seattle’s progressive business community, including the Downtown Seattle Association, who partially funds Commute Seattle and who heavily backed ST3*. Praise is also due to the hundreds of companies paying for transit passes, installing bike amenities, and implementing other transit-friendly policies. Many of our peer cities are falling behind, even those building lots of shiny trains, but Seattle is leading the way.
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