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Take a Seat: Seattle Bus Ridership is Booming

Between 2010 and 2014, no major city saw bus ridership grow quite like Seattle

The transportation battle around Seattle is usually some kind of argument between the pro-car folks and the pro-bike folks. Meanwhile, the people who ride the bus are just quietly minding their own business...and growing.

Per Gene Balk, Seattle saw the biggest jump in bus ridership between 2010 and 2014 of any major city in the U.S. 19,000 new riders were added to the fold in that time, obliterating second-place finishing Chicago (4,000). That puts Seattle No. 2 overall in terms of bus reliance to San Francisco.

Per Balk, bus commuting has even doubled in Greenwood, Crown Hill and Lake City's Meadowbrook region.

Roughly one out of every five Seattleites uses the bus to get to work. And this doesn't count people who use ferries, trolley or light rail. That last one probably says a lot about the bus numbers. Seattle is decades behind in terms of light rail infrastructure, making the bus a much-more attractive option, compared to places like New York City or Washington, D.C. where rail systems are robust. Assuming ST3 passes, light rail should eventually catch up and surpass buses, but that's still a ways away.

It also doesn't help to have major highways snarled with stop & go traffic that's among the worst in the nation. As more people arrive in the region and see what they're up against, the bus starts to look more and more attractive.

Balk also says that solo driving seems to have taken a hit around town. That number is still rising, up 9,000 people during the same timeframe, but that's half of the bus numbers.
· Seattle sees biggest jump in bus riders of any U.S. city [ST]
· Sound Transit 3 Plan Calls For Second Downtown Seattle Tunnel, 108 Miles of Light Rail [CS]