Seattle Seeks a Cure for Its Congested Traffic Arteries

It may soon cost money to drive in downtown Seattle
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This story appears in the August 2019 issue. Click here for a free subscription.

Seattle city officials are considering four congestion-pricing plans in the downtown area as a way to alleviate snarled traffic. One is cordon pricing, which would create a toll-zone boundary. Another is area pricing, which includes trips both into and within a defined area.

A third is fleet pricing, which targets specific vehicle types, such as ride-hailing or commercial vehicles. The other option is a charge if traveling on a specific road. The city will next define goals and objectives before recommending a course of action. New York recently became the first U.S. city to adopt a congestion-pricing plan.

6
Seattle’s rank in a study of most-congested U.S. cities

13%
Share of workers who drive who would be affected by congestion tolling in downtown Seattle

15%
Share the average Seattle household spends from its budget for transportation

37%
Share of workers in the Puget Sound region who commute on a bus

66%
Share of emissions citywide that come from passenger and freight transportation

138
Hours people spend per year driving in congestion in Seattle traffic

$12,000
Amount the average Seattle household spends annually on transportation

$1,932
Annual cost of congestion per driver in Seattle

105,000
Number of new residents in Seattle since 2010

$5B
Lost productivity from time spent in Seattle traffic in 2017

$5.9B
City of Seattle’s entire 2019-2020 budget

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