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SDOT Director: City of Seattle Cannot Handle More Traffic

Posted on Jan 12, 2017

According to the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), the City of Seattle cannot handle any more traffic. Today, 30 percent of the vehicles traveling to downtown Seattle only have one occupant. However, Seattle is one of America’s fastest growing cities; as the city’s population continues to grow, the number of single-occupancy vehicles needs to drop to 25 percent just to maintain the current level of traffic congestion.

The Solution? An Expanded Public Transportation System

Luckily, the city of Seattle has a plan to decrease traffic congestion over the next several years. In short, that plan is to create a reliable and fast means of public transportation system readily available to everyone in the city. This plan is underway and Seattle has already started to see some of the benefits that a thriving public transportation system can provide.

Seattle has improved their public transportation system through taxpayer funding and the use of several innovative techniques. For example, during rush hour, the City closes several busy downtown streets to all vehicles except for buses and light rail.

Furthermore, the city has an extensive network of “bus queue jumps” which allow buses to cut ahead of regular traffic at stop lights. There are also “bus only” lanes with fines for drivers caught using them.

These methods have improved the speed and reliability of public transportation in the city so that taking the bus becomes quicker than driving yourself. Hopefully, these changes will encourage more drivers to make the switch to public transportation, lessening the traffic congestion in Seattle.

Seattle Citizens Approved Two Separate Transit Voter Ballot Initiatives

These updates were made possible thanks to Seattle voters who recently passed two massive voter ballot initiatives in 2015 and 2016 which funded major overhauls of Seattle’s public transportation system.

The first is a transportation levy called “Move Seattle” which totals over $900 million in investment dollars. Additionally, the initiative “Sound Transit 3” passed, granting $50 billion in tax dollars to expand Seattle’s light rail system to an outstanding 116 miles of track.

Ed Murray, the Mayor of Seattle, says these programs will help cut back on traffic congestion. Before these initiatives, only 25 percent of the city lived near a bus that comes every 12 minutes. But, this percentage is rising as the transportation system expands, and by 2025, at least 72 percent of the city will live near a bus that runs every 12 minutes.

Bus and rail ridership continues to increase and now 70 percent of all trips made to downtown Seattle use non-private vehicles. The city officials hope this trend increases and their citizens continue to support public transportation in Seattle. 

Stay up to date on improvements to Seattle’s traffic problem; check out our blog. And if you need legal assistance after an automobile accident, contact Max Meyers Law at 425-242-5595 in Kirkland, Washington.