The City of Seattle was recently the recipient of the 2019 ACT TDM Excellence Award for Large Government.
Seattle is a committed leader in TDM and has a city-wide focus on decreasing reliance on single-occupancy vehicles while supporting alternative modes.
The city’s current comprehensive plan aims for 25% or less of trips be made by single-occupancy vehicles by 2035, with the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) working across several program areas to achieve this goal. SDOT works with the city’s large employers to reduce peak commute drive-alone trips through the Commute Trip Reduction Program. The CTR program intentionally moves beyond a regulatory approach and is intended as an amenity for doing business in fast-growing Seattle. From 2007 to 2018, CTR employers have seen a reduction in drive alone commutes of 16% and vehicle miles traveled for commuters has decreased by 23%.
In addition to the CTR program, the city also implemented Transportation Management Programs to add TDM for large buildings. In partnership with Commute Seattle and the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections, approximately 200 buildings are monitored citywide.
To support the goal of reducing driving alone rates, Seattle has also introduced a Transportation Equity program, which works to connect historically underserved and cost burdened populations with affordable and alternative transportation options. The city introduced pre-loaded, reduced fare ORCA passes for low-income residents as well as the Youth ORCA Program, providing transit passes to middle and high school students.
Seattle’s New Mobility Program introduces alternative modes to driving alone and resources for first-mile last-mile connectivity. By incorporating bike share, scooter share, carshare, and on-demand rideshare, Seattle has brought innovative yet affordable transportation options that are understandable and accessible.
The city itself also leads by example with its own employees. The Seattle MyTrips commuting program includes fully subsidized transit passes, a Guaranteed Ride Home program, bike facilities and secure parking, and Trip Planning Assistance. These benefits for city employees have proven impactful as less than 12% of employees drive to the central campus.
Finally, in 2018, the City of Seattle passed a Commuter Benefits Ordinance, requiring businesses with 20 or more employees to offer the opportunity to make a monthly pre-tax payroll deduction for transit or vanpool expenses. This law has the added benefit of lowering the tax bills for both employees and businesses showing that commute benefits are great for commuters and employers. This ordinance will go into effect in January 2020.
The city of Seattle has made a great commitment to TDM as the city grows. The programs highlighted today show that the commute is a significant part of a worker’s day and making travel easier for residents, workers, and visitors of Seattle can add to the city’s vibrancy.