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Regional planners show after billions spent, traffic congestion gets worse

Updated: Apr 22, 2019

Planners from the Puget Sound Regional Council - the four-county Metropolitan Planning Organization and Regional Transportation Planning Organization – have released their draft Vision 2050 document for public comment. The public, expected to read the 227-page plan and the following 217-page appendices, has until April 29 to provide commentary.

However, the plan’s transportation program has much to be desired. They include three separate scenarios. They call one of those scenarios “Transit Focused Growth,” which involves cramming 75% of the region’s growth within a half-mile of planned “high-capacity transit station areas.” Planners predict that the amount of time people spend in a car will decrease, from a daily 38-minute drive in 2014 to a daily 33-minute drive in 2050. However, they also predict that the amount of annual delay per person will increase dramatically, from 21 daily hours of delay to 29 hours. In other words, though people will drive fewer miles on average, they will spending more time in traffic.

This means that despite transportation officials spending billions more of our money on mass transit and transit-oriented development, than on roads, we should simply expect more traffic congestion in our future.

Another notable finding includes transit mode share. PSRC data shows that transit made up 5% of personal trips in 2014, and in any scenario, only goes up just 1% despite billions being spent on rail.

Even under the “Transit Focused Growth” scenario versus the “Stay the Course” for 2050, transit mode share increases just 1% during the work commute hours – and stays flat for non-commute trips.

The projections our local planners have made in Vision 2050 show that despite best efforts to concentrate growth around transit centers for 31 years, most people simply don’t want to take transit in the future. The findings should lead transportation officials to reconsider how they allocate growth and transportation spending over the next three decades.

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