It sounds strange to say, but “telecommuting” has continued to thrive among Seattle’s commuters.
That’s according to the results of Commute Seattle’s 2022 survey, which shows how people get to and from work. Telecommuting shot up to 46% of commuters in 2021 amid ongoing pandemic measures. That share remained strong through 2022.
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The most important takeaways from the 2022 survey:
- Remote workers tend to have higher incomes. Lower-income workers are more likely to go on the road and work in person.
- Commuters more often choose to work in the office on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Monday and Friday it is easier on the roads.
- Before the pandemic, in 2019, public transport had a significant proportion of commuters (46%), but this method has not recovered and was 22% in 2022.
- Driving alone to work had a downward trend during this time. In 2019, driving alone accounted for 26% of commuters. In 2022, it was 21%.
- Rideshares took a hit, going from 9% to 3% between 2019 and 2022.
- Walking decreased, from 7% in 2019 to 3% in 2022.
- Cycling remained at a solid 3% all three years.
- 10% of commuter cars were hybrids, and 6% were electric cars.
- Preferences for modes of transport are also broken down demographically. Women were less likely to take public transport. White commuters were less likely to take public transit as well. Asian and white workers were more likely to telecommute.
One point that Commute Seattle notes is that while the share of commuters who “drive alone” has decreased, traffic congestion has continued to increase. This has largely been due to people choosing to drive to places other than work. In other words, cars are still on the road causing congestion, they’re just not going to work. They go elsewhere.
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“…over 75% of trips Seattleites take to grocery stores, health care, and school pickup and drop-off are made by driving alone. We also make more of these trips in a week than we do from home to work.”
The commuter survey reflects one-tenth of Seattle workers in the fall of 2022. Recent developments could significantly affect next year’s survey.
In February, Amazon announced it wanted employees back in the office at least three days a week, starting May 1. In January, Starbucks made a similar announcement. Of the three days a week Starbucks wants workers back in the office, two of those days must be on Tuesday and Wednesday.
A number of voices have urged businesses and city leaders to bring employees back to the city and its offices, for the sake of businesses that rely on foot traffic. In his recent State of Downtown address, Downtown Seattle Association Executive Director Jon Scholes said getting people back into downtown offices is a primary tactic he’s promoting to help downtown bounce back.