Why Seattle traffic is lighter on Fridays: Today So Far
- Traffic seems to be a lot better around Seattle on Fridays. Mondays too. There's a reason for that.
- King County Executive Dow Constantine is not going to run for Washington state governor.
- The train that derailed near Anacortes may have gone off the tracks because it was supposed to, according to one tribal leader.
- What is the best thing to do with more daylight?
This post originally appeared in KUOW's Today So Far newsletter for March 20, 2023.
My wife Nina made an observation after many, many commutes into Seattle — traffic on Fridays is great. I have since made the same observation on my trips into the office. There seem to be far fewer cars on the road on Fridays. Our assumption has been that, with the option of hybrid and remote work, more folks are opting to work from home on the last day of the week.
It seems our assumption may be correct. Commute Seattle recently released the results of its annual commuter survey, offering some insights into our region's travel habits. One observation is that workers are more often coming into the office on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, and sticking around home on Mondays and Fridays.
Some other quick takeaways:
- Remote work is still dominating Seattle with about 46% of workers engaging in hybrid or remote work. This is keeping many cars off the road. Remote work is more popular among higher-earning employees.
- While work commutes have declined amid remote work, that doesn't mean traffic has gotten any better during certain times. People are still getting into their cars, only now, it's for non-work errands, such as the grocery store, school pickups, or the doctor's office.
- Public transit has not entirely recovered from pandemic slowdowns. It's about half of what it was in 2019.
Commute Seattle's survey reflects habits from late 2022, but there is reason to believe that there could be a shift in habits in the months ahead. There is a chorus of downtown voices urging the city and local employers to get workers back into offices. In other words, "Go back to the way things were before." Downtown Seattle is still suffering from the pandemic hit and many long for pre-pandemic life — commute into Seattle, and leave some money behind.
Many in the business community have already discovered that remote workers can be more productive than in-office employees. On top of that, there is evidence that employees will take lower pay in exchange for remote-work jobs. There are also cities throughout the USA actually paying remote workers to relocate there. My amateur expectation would be that these business and cities will reap future economic benefits, over businesses and cities who want to pick up the basket that previously held all their eggs, and start filling it back up the exact same way they had it in 2019.
In the more immediate future, it seems that some major Seattle companies will get a portion of their employees back into the city more often. Starbucks and Amazon have both started new policies to get employees back in the office three days a week.
King County Executive Dow Constantine is not going to run for Washington state governor. At least, not for the next election. Constantine's name has been thrown around as one potential Democrat who could compete for the job, should Gov. Inslee opt not to run again. But in a recent letter to supporters, Constantine says that is not going to happen. Instead, he says that the county has a lot of goals and challenges that need to be addressed, and he is too busy working on them. Read more here.
The train that derailed near Anacortes may have gone off the tracks because it was supposed to. That's according to one account from Samish Indian Nation chair Tom Wooten. KUOW hasn't been able to confirm with BNSF, state or federal agencies about how the train derailed, exactly, but Wooten says he already got a briefing on the incident from officials at the scene. He reports that the train tracks are designed to intentionally push a train off the tracks when a bridge ahead is not in service. In this case, there is a rotating bridge over the Swinomish Channel. It is often in the open position to allow for boat traffic to pass. It was likely open when the train approached last week, which meant a derailer device was activated.
“It did what it was supposed to and spilled the train off the tracks so it wouldn't continue on into the Swinomish Slough, into the water, which wouldn't have been good at all," Wooten told KUOW.
Read more here.
Seattle Now had an interesting conversation this morning about what folks can do with the extra daylight that just kicked in. We now have some brighter evenings, and warmer temps, which means a whole new set of Northwest activities are opening up (it also means allergies, which is a whole other thing). What are you going to do with them? What are some of the best things to do in our area when the spring light emerges?
"If you live around Fremont or Phinney Ridge, there is a tiny, micro-park call Fremont Peak Park," Chase Burns with The Ticket told Seattle Now. "It is where a house used to exist ... it is honestly the coolest park that I've ever experienced. It is very tiny."
Burns says this is one of the best views of Ballard, Puget Sound, and the sunset in Seattle. He recommends a visit now that there's more light in our days. He also points to Pike Place Market as a great activity for locals, yes locals, arguing that this corner of town is often overlooked, but offers so much.
Seattle Now's Patricia Murphy says that the Ballard Locks is a great, inexpensive spot. Great for boat watching, museum visits, viewing the fish ladder, etc.
There are a few, somewhat related, things that I look forward to this time of year. Barbecuing is a big one. Also, outdoor movies. There are a handful of drive-ins up and running from Whidbey Island down through Shelton, and they are worth making a road trip. There are also movies in the park, from Westlake to Marymoor and Seattle Center. Then you have various pubs and bars screening classics on their walls. You can plan your whole season based on movie outings. I'm sure TSF readers have a few thoughts on this, so feel free to send me an email with your ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There's a lot more going on around our area. Burns and Murphy (which sounds like a buddy cop TV show) have a few more thoughts on this, including some activities for those who want to splurge a little. Check out their conversation here.
AS SEEN ON KUOW
STEM career fields — science, technology, engineering, and math — are traditionally male-dominated. But in FIRST robotics, Interlake High School senior Aparna Srinivasan finds community and belonging, despite the underrepresentation of women of color in robotics. RadioActive's Evelyn Jiang interviewed Aparna about her experience. (Courtesy of Evelyn Jiang)
DID YOU KNOW?
Happy first day of spring! March 20 is not only the first day of spring, it's a vernal equinox, meaning the sun is located directly over the Earth's equator. Generally, day and night are of equal length at this time.
When the vernal equinox hits in March, the northern hemisphere heads into spring, while the southern hemisphere goes into fall. If you want to see the fastest sunsets of the year, they're on the equinoxes, so head to your favorite viewing spot for a quick evening show.
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