Every year, the Seattle Department of Transportation tracks traffic at 19 select bridges across the city, and presents the resulting traffic count as a rough-and-ready gauge of citywide traffic trends. And based on these counts, SDOT believes that traffic across the city fell by a whopping 10 percent between 2003 and 2012:
But it gets more dramatic. The US Census Bureau says that Seattle’s population grew by 11 percent over the same period—suggesting a drop in per capita vehicle travel of more than 20 percent in a single decade.
Meanwhile, transit ridership in Seattle grew by nearly 40 percent from the early 2000s through 2012:
Of course, these trends are moving slowly enough that most Seattle residents probably don’t notice the changes in their daily lives. In fact, I’d bet that a lot of people stuck in traffic don’t believe that the trends are real. That’s not too surprising, really: when you’re sitting, frustrated, in heavy traffic, it’s very easy to forget that you were also stuck in traffic a decade ago.
Still, the numbers paint a compelling picture of a gradual sea-change in how we get around the city: more transit, less driving. That’s what a slow-motion revolution looks like, folks.