Housing & Transportation >> Commute Mode of Transportation

Commuting: Summary & Data Highlights

Traffic congestion cost King County drivers an average 48 hours in 2011.

Commuting by public transit, on bicycle, or on foot boosts physical activity, reduces traffic congestion, and decreases auto emissions that contribute to air pollution.  Traffic congestion boosts stress and increases costs – of food, clothing, building materials, and everything else that travels on local roads. 

Traffic Congestion during Peak Commute Times

  • In 2011, commuters in the Seattle/Tacoma/Everett corridor lost an average of 48 hours to traffic congestion -- 10th worst among large metropolitan areas.
  • The total cost of regional traffic congestion in 2011 was $2.24 billion.
  • Peak-travel-hour drivers in metropolitan King County who need to arrive at their destinations on time should quadruple their estimates for travel time, compared to what the same trip would take during light-traffic hours.

Modes of Commuting to Work

  • From 2005 to 2014, the percentage of workers age 16 and older who commuted by driving alone declined from 69.1% to 63.7%.
  • Over the same period, working at home and commuting via public transportation, bicycle, or on foot all increased.

Satisfaction with Commute Times

  • Although average commute times did not change from 2004 to 2011, satisfaction with commute time declined in all regions and in King County overall. 
  • Dissatisfaction was greatest among the following groups:
  • Long-distance commuting is on the rise.  In 2011, 7.0% of King County workers (70,000 individuals) commuted from outside their county of residence; an additional 0.8% worked outside their home state.  From 2002 to 2009, the rate of “super-commuting” in King County increased by 60.4% (data not shown).

"So we share a car, for the entire family. I’m generally the bus rider, and I live in Seattle, where public transportation is decent.  So this is helpful, because I can either walk to work or walk home or take the bus, but the bus is getting expensive!… They don’t have it covered at work, like a benefit. That would be super helpful."
Father of 2 children in 2-parent family who lives and works in Seattle