For Downtown Workers, Telework is the Biggest Winner in 2019
Commuters continue to choose transit and active modes as they beat the Seattle Squeeze
Contact for Press Release | Date: March 9, 2020 | Phone: (206) 613-3248
Seattle — According to new survey results from Commute Seattle, telework reached an all-time high among downtown Seattle workers in 2019. The Center City Mode Split Survey, conducted biannually, indicates that 6% of downtown employees worked remotely or shifted their schedules to avoid peak-hour commutes, with the total number of these “trip” types tripling since 2010. As many as 14% of workers say they telework at least one day a week.
The Center City Mode Split Survey studies the travel habits of thousands of downtown Seattle commuters across hundreds of small and large companies. Similar to prior years, transit remained the preferred mode of transportation for nearly half of all center city employees during the peak commute. Last year was a historic one in transportation as commuters used multiple modes to beat Seattle Squeeze impacts such as the multi-week Alaskan Way Viaduct closure, all while downtown employment continued to rise.
In 2019, over 16,800 downtown Seattle workers teleworked on a typical weekday, up from only 5,500 in 2010. In addition to telework policies, many companies are also offering employees the options of compressed workweek and flexible schedules to reduce time spent commuting.
The study also found that transit remains the most popular way for weekday peak-hour commuters (6 a.m to 9 a.m.) to travel downtown, accounting for nearly half (46%) of trips. This translates to more than 135,000 commuters choosing bus, light rail, commuter rail, streetcar and walk-on ferry trips. The number of transit commuters across these modes is nearly double the number of those who drive alone. Additionally, more than half of commuters (54%) reported taking transit at least once a week.
“Metro is gratified that commuters have continued their reliance on public transit, while also using a range of mobility options to reduce dependence upon single-occupancy motor vehicles,” said Chris O’Claire, director of King County Metro’s Mobility Division. “We will continue our work as a mobility agency to support the public with transportation options that meet their shifting needs.”
Ten percent of respondents chose an active mode of transportation, including walking or biking, representing more than 31,500 downtown commuters. For the first time, bikers account for more than 10,000 estimated daily trips. In 2019, the Seattle Department of Transportation completed multiple bike lane projects within the center city making it easier than ever to choose an active commute mode.
“People choosing to get to work without driving alone – and companies who actively support their employees to make sustainable travel and scheduling choices – have made sustained economic growth in downtown possible,” said Seattle Department of Transportation Director Sam Zimbabwe. “The City is strongly committed to investing in transit, bike and pedestrian infrastructure throughout Seattle to enable these choices, including building over six miles of protected bike lanes and greenways, and will finish 90 blocks of red bus lanes in 2020 alone.”
The survey also uncovered that one in four commuters shifted their travel patterns over the past year, as the disruptions of the Seattle Squeeze impacted trips to and through downtown. Furthermore, more than a third of commuters (36%) report using more than one mode of transportation during the workweek. The primary choices commuters tried were transit and telework. Workers are using an increasingly diverse mix of modes for their weekday peak trips to downtown.
“In 2010, 35% of peak weekday commuters drove alone to work in the center city. Today, only 26% drive alone” said Kevin Futhey, executive director of Commute Seattle. “We would have an additional 25,000 cars in traffic each day if we hadn’t made that shift,” he added. “We know this is a trend that needs to continue for downtown to thrive, and we will keep working with employers to encourage transit, ridesharing and active commutes.”
Conducted by EMC Research on behalf of Commute Seattle and its agency partners, the Center City Mode Split Survey has been conducted since 2010. The survey provides detailed insights into commuter trends for transit, single-occupancy-vehicle (SOV), walking, biking, vanpool, carpool and other modes.
For more information and the full report visit commuteseattle.com/modesplit. Commute Seattle offers complimentary consultations to all Seattle businesses that need assistance developing flexwork policies. Find resources for flexwork policies at commuteseattle.com/flexwork.
About Commute Seattle: Commute Seattle is a nonprofit Transportation Management Association funded by the Downtown Seattle Association, Seattle Department of Transportation, King County Metro and Sound Transit. Commute Seattle’s mission is to foster mobility partnerships and provide services to keep Seattle moving and thriving for all. We envision a more livable and thriving metro region underwritten by broad community commitment to smart mobility choices. For more information, visit commuteseattle.com. Follow us on Twitter and on Facebook.