Governance Innovation Planning Policy
January 3, 2017
Seattle: America’s Next Top Transit City

“The City of Seattle can’t handle any more cars than we currently have. Our mode split needs to go from 30% single occupancy vehicle to 25%, and the lions share of that is going to be carried on the bus.”

-Scott Kubly, Director, Seattle Department of Transportation

Seattle, one of the fastest growing cities in America, is making bold investments to ensure the majority of its residents live within walking distance of frequent transit. The city’s efforts are paying off – both bus and rail ridership have seen huge gains in recent years, and 70% of trips to downtown Seattle are now made by people outside of private vehicles.  And as a measure of confidence, Seattle voters approved the $900 million Move Seattle transportation levy in 2015 and followed up by supporting the regional Sound Transit 3, a $50 billion rail expansion in 2016.

 

Seattle is demonstrating how rail and buses can work in tandem to build a fast, frequent and reliable network that encourages people to use transit. A key factor for this success is city government playing an active role forging transit improvements, not taking a back seat to county and regional transit agencies. Seattle’s experience demonstrates that when agencies create clear transportation priorities, provide thoughtful, goal-oriented planning and deliver good transit service, ridership goes up and a firm foundation of public support can be established.
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