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News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Downtown commuters shift to transit

Commuters board a bus at the Northeast Sixth Street transit center.More and more commuters to downtown Bellevue are choosing buses and vanpools, or even telecommuting, rather than driving to work.

The percentage of people driving alone to downtown Bellevue dropped significantly last year, to 61 percent compared with 71 percent in 2005, according to a mode share survey commissioned by the City of Bellevue.

Factoria also registered a double-digit decrease, with solo commutes at 69 percent, down from 79 percent. However, the percentage of solo driving was up slightly in the Crossroads and Bel-Red/Northup areas of the city.

"The survey shows Bellevue is on the right track in moving solo commuters out of their cars and into alternative forms of travel," said City Manager Steve Sarkozy. "But it also tells us we have a lot more work to do if we want to maintain a healthy transportation system."

With employment in downtown Bellevue expected to jump from about 40,000 workers today to 63,000 in 2020, Sarkozy said, it will become increasingly important to shift from drive-alone commutes to other types of transportation. 

Other results from the 2008 Mode Share Survey include:

  • In most areas of Bellevue only about 20 percent of employees surveyed said they lived in Bellevue (in Crossroads it was 30 percent).
  • Average one-way commute distances range from a high of nearly 17 miles for employees in Eastgate to 12 miles in Crossroads.
  • Downtown commutes by bus bumped up to 19 percent last year, from 14 percent in 2005; carpool commutes rose to 11 percent from 10 percent; commutes by other modes such as vanpool, walking, biking and telecommuting are each 3 percent or less.

Likely factors to account for the reduction in drive-alone commuting include higher parking and fuel costs, the higher proportion of commuters who work for large employers, improved transit service and more outreach.

In stepping up its outreach effort, Bellevue has partnered with organizations such as King County Metro and TransManage, a service of the Bellevue Downtown Association. In early September, TransManage won a national award as the 2009 Outstanding Transportation Management Association. The award was given by the Association for Commuter Transportation. 

The margin of error for the study, which was based on surveys at both large and small workplaces in Bellevue, was plus or minus 2.2 percent or less in most areas (in the Crossroads area, with a smaller sample size, it was 7.9 percent).

One of the tools Bellevue uses to promote commute options is a recently enhanced website, ChooseYourWayBellevue.org, a one-stop resource for alternative transportation information.

The revamped site, geared for commuters, residents, employers, students and visitors has information about transit, ride-sharing, biking and walking; promotions and rewards programs; a Choose Your Way Bellevue blog and Commuter Connection newsletter; commute cost and carbon emissions calculators; and real-time traffic conditions.

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Contact Information

450 110th Ave. NE
P.O. Box 90012
Bellevue, WA 98009
Contact: Michael Ingram, Senior Planner
Phone: 425-452-4166
E-mail: mingram@bellevuewa.gov

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