Traffic congestion down in Seattle, study finds

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by KATIE SCAFF / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on April 24, 2013 at 8:52 AM

Updated Wednesday, Apr 24 at 9:33 AM

Despite the national rise in traffic congestion in 2012, drivers in Seattle encountered 10 percent less traffic last year, according to the INRIX data firm.

The firm, which released its annual traffic scorecard Wednesday, linked the traffic trends to the state of the economy. 

There was an overall 22 percent decrease in traffic congestion in the U.S. in 2012, following a double-digit decrease in 2011, but traffic is up four percent in the first three months of 2013. 

“One thing that tells us is that more people are going back to work and more people going back to work means more traffic,” said Inrix’s Jim Bak. 

But according to Bak, the situation in Seattle is unique.  

Seattle is ranked eighth on Inrix’s list of the top 10 worst cities for traffic, but Seattle was among those seeing a decline in traffic. So far in 2013, traffic in Seattle is down 11 percent. 

“We’re actually bucking the trend,” Bak said. 

“There’s nothing else that we can think of to explain that other than we have a very progressive commuter culture. I think we’re more apt to get out of our cars and take alternative modes if we can.” 

Bak, who lives in the Seattle-area, said he now takes the bus three days a week since tolling started on SR-520. 

Typical drivers in Seattle area, which the study defines as Snohomish, King and Pierce counties, waste about 35 hours in traffic a year. 

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