Transit Ridership Rises in Seattle, With Income Differences Among Riders

Transit ridership is up in Seattle, and higher income riders are more likely to use it.
October 9, 2018, 8am PDT | Camille Fink
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Andrew Nash

Gene Balk reports on new census data about transit ridership demographics in the Seattle area. Ridership has steadily increased, and now over 10 percent of workers commute by transit. "Since 2010, we've experienced the second-biggest increase in the share of transit commuters among the 50 largest U.S. metro areas, behind San Francisco," says Balk.

Seattle is one of six metro areas in the country where a larger percentage of high earners, workers with annual incomes above $75,000, use transit as compared to lower earnersthose with incomes below $35,000. In Seattle, 11 percent of high earners and 9.5 percent of lower earners commute on transit, a 1.5 percent difference.

Balk says regional investments in transit are related to the increases in ridership:

We've invested more heavily in transit than any other region, and it's paying off. Even before the passage of the Sound Transit 3 package, the Seattle area was spending more, per capita, on new transit projects than any city in the country.

He also considers how the income demographics of riders might be a factor. One idea is that public support for transit investments is more robust in Seattle because the incomes of riders span a broader range than in other metropolitan areas.  

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Published on Monday, October 1, 2018 in Seattle Times
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