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Central Puget Sound Interstate 5 Corridor – Transit ridership

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Measures of public transit ridership on the I-5 corridor in the central Puget Sound region.

Transit ridership

WSDOT works with transit agencies in major urban areas throughout the state to collect data on the number of transit vehicles and passengers that pass specific points on select urban highway corridors, including the I-5 corridor in the central Puget Sound region. WSDOT combines this data with its highway vehicle and person throughput data to produce the measures below. For more information on how WSDOT calculates vehicle and person throughput, see Handbook for Corridor Capacity Evaluation (pdf 5.9 mb).

The chart below shows the average percentage of buses compared to all vehicles passing select points on the I-5 corridor in the central Puget Sound region, and the average percentage of bus riders compared to all highway users passing those points. Use the drop-down menus in the chart to see how these percentages vary by location, time of day, direction of travel and year.

Commute-level transit measures (discontinued)

From 2013 through 2017, WSDOT was able to collaborate with transit agencies in the central Puget Sound region to collect data on transit ridership at the individual commute trip level. The chart below shows transit passenger miles traveled, average daily peak period transit ridership, percentage of transit seats occupied, and how much highway capacity was saved due to transit ridership during commutes on the I-5 corridor in the central Puget Sound region. For more information on how WSDOT uses commute-level ridership to calculate these measures, see Handbook for Corridor Capacity Evaluation (pdf 5.9 mb).

Source: WSDOT Public Transportation Division.

Multi-year trends

The same trends that increased delay and travel times on I-5 between 2015 and 2019—economic growth, increased employment and rising housing prices—also increased demand for and usage of public transportation on this corridor. Public transit agencies in the central Puget Sound region—including King County Metro, Sound Transit, Pierce Transit and Community Transit, which contributed data for this report—have increased the amount of service they provide in order to meet this increased demand. Notably, on the I-5 corridor between Federal Way and Everett, Sound Transit’s Link Light Rail both increased the number of stations it serves and the number of trips it operates several times during this period.

Annual highlights

In 2019, transit contributed the most to morning highway commute travel southbound on I-5 at N 145th Street, where buses (1.1% of all vehicles) moved 27.7% of travelers. During the evening commute at the same location, buses (0.8% of the total vehicles) moved 20.4 % of the northbound travelers.

Transit ridership data was not collected for 2018 due to a pause in publication while WSDOT conducted an engagement process to inform the redesign of this dashboard. Following input from its transit agency partners, WSDOT switched from commute-level transit ridership measures to analyzing transit ridership at select locations along urban highway corridors, including the I-5 corridor between Olympia and Federal Way. This change helped to streamline the collaboration process.

In 2017, transit vehicles traveling on I-5 between Federal Way and Everett moved nearly 60,000 people per day—12% more than the 54,000 people per day they moved in 2016. Nearly 902,000 passenger miles were traveled daily on these commutes (up 16% from 876,000 in 2016), saving as much as 2.05 lanes of highway capacity.

In 2016, transit vehicles traveling on I-5 between Federal Way and Everett moved over 54,000 people per day—8% more than the 50,000 people per day they moved in 2015. Nearly 876,000 passenger miles were traveled daily on these commutes (up 13% from 777,000 in 2015), saving as much as 2.04 lanes of highway capacity.

In 2015, transit vehicles moved nearly 50,000 people per day during the morning and evening commutes on I-5 between Federal Way and Everett. Approximately 777,000 passenger miles were traveled daily on these commutes, saving as much as 1.93 lanes of highway capacity on some commutes.

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