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Metropolitan Seattle Transit-Oriented Development and Flexcar - Seattle, WA

FAST FACTS ABOUT: Seattle Transit Development And Flexcar
Types of TDM:
Mode Shift, Origin/ Destination Location Choice, Trip Substitution Choice
Keywords: park and ride, transit oriented development, parking variance, car sharing
Area Demographics: Metropolitan Seattle, project locations are varied
Program: Transit-oriented development at existing park and ride facilities, car sharing program.
Results: New multi-family construction parking variance. Flexcar operates over 100 vehicles in more than a dozen Seattle area neighborhoods.
Cost of Program: $1 million appropriation for staffing, consulting fees, and project development for TOD Program. Additional private development costs.The County contributes up to $200,000 per year for member incentives and staff support.
Staff: Three project managers oversee the TOD Program.
Contact: Flexcar – Christine Anderson, Flexcar Program Manager, King County Department of Transportation,
TOD - Ron Posthuma, King County Department of Transportation, TOD Program Manager,



Area Characteristics
The City of Seattle, King County, Sound Transit, University of Washington, surrounding jurisdictions and private developers have committed to trip reduction by introducing a number of complementary programs and projects throughout the region. This case study will focus specifically on public-private partnerships that foster a complementary relationship between land use, transit, parking availability, and transportation demand. The success of transit oriented development (TOD) projects and Flexcar, the County’s car sharing program, is due in large part to the willingness of program sponsors and participants to try something different. In addition to the programs highlighted below, three other case studies within this report are from the Seattle metropolitan region, the University of U-PASS Program, the Swedish Medical Center, and Seattle Seahawks Stadium.

Program Description
King County Transit Oriented Development (TOD) Program
Developed in 1998, TOD efforts began by assessing established park-and-ride sites for development potential. Following a series of analysis efforts, a number of TOD projects have been completed, are under construction or are currently under study. Each success has led to a continued investment in infill development, affordable development and design practices that maximize the viability of alternate modes of travel besides single occupancy vehicles. Since 1999, the Program has received an annual $1million appropriation for staffing, consulting fees, and project development. Summarized below are three completed TOD projects developed at park-and-ride lots throughout metropolitan Seattle.

The Village at Overlake Station, Redmond, WA - As the first suburban “pilot” program, the Overlake project includes 308 apartments, a daycare facility and a shared parking structure open to park-and-ride users with spaces reserved for Flexcar. As a condition, the developer was required to provide one bus pass per apartment.

Northgate North, Seattle, WA - Northgate North opened in October 2000 as a four story retail project requiring a new access road which resulted in a loss of a portion of the park-and-ride lot. As a condition, the developer was required to provide replacement parking in its parking structure. In March 2002, the County purchased additional adjacent land to provide an additional 500 parking stalls. Negotiations continue regarding the ultimate outcome of the site which is only partially developed.

Renton Transit Center, Renton, WA – The Renton site is home to 90 apartments and a new parking structure with 150 new park-and ride stalls. The apartments have all been rented and staff research indicates one third of the tenants travel by transit.

Each success has led to a continued investment in infill development, affordable development and design practices that maximize the viability of alternate modes of travel besides single occupancy vehicles.

As the TOD programs continue to grow, a number of lessons learned have emerged. Although it might be challenging to agree on terms of shared parking arrangements, it introduces a substantial benefit to the viability of the site as both a TOD and park-and-ride facility. It has also been beneficial to evaluate existing park-and-ride demand and suggest consolidations where appropriate.

In 1998, King County Metro, the County’s transit provider, initiated efforts to make the case for car sharing as a viable alternative to personal vehicle ownership. A number of successive events occurred leading up to the actual implementation of the program including the development of Business and Marketing Plan, the Request for Proposals to secure a vendor, and the explicit identification of roles and responsibilities among jurisdictional participants. From the onset, a number of distinguishing features were recognized as contributors to the program’s success including the expectation of rapid growth, utilizing a multi-market approach, and the presence of political support.

In January 2000, Flexcar was implemented in Capitol Hill, Seattle’s highest density neighborhood with four vehicles. According to 1990 Census data, Capitol Hill was home to 16,250 residents of which 37% did not own a personal vehicle. Within the first year, Flexcar grew to over 900 members with 19 vehicles with presence in five neighborhoods. Today, Flexcar operates more than 100 vehicles in over twenty neighborhoods. As a company, Flexcar continues to expand with operations in sic metropolitan areas throughout the U.S. (Seattle, Portland, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, San Diego, and Denver). In a report summarizing the first six months of Flexcar based on 146 responses to a new member survey it was determined that the majority of the members work in a managerial or professional occupation and 79% were college graduates. 55% of members indicated that they lived in a rental property.

Like other car sharing programs, Flexcar participants pay an annual fee and select a rate plan that suits their needs. Rate plans are offered hourly or monthly and fees are incurred based on time and distance driven. In return, user costs such as vehicle maintenance, gasoline, and insurance are paid for through the rate plans. Vehicles are parked within a reasonable distance from residential and employment centers. Reservations are made by phone or on-line.

Measures of Effectiveness
As an indicator of TOD and Flexcar success, both programs have received awards and recognition as innovative strategies with a positive impact on regional travel. It’s also evident that the two programs complement each other as car sharing has been included in development plans, including some King County TOD projects.

By requiring developers to provide bus passes and making transit and light rail highly accessible to tenants, the TOD program has been able to obtain a variance in the parking requirements for new multi-family construction. Instead of requiring 2.5 parking stalls per apartment, the ratio has been dropped to 1 stall per apartment as is the case at Overlake. Since tenants are required to register their car for the site, the actual stall usage per apartment ratio was able to be measured. On average, .6 of a stall is being utilized per apartment. It’s also been inferred that a third of the tenants use transit, which is three times greater than a typical suburban multi-family apartment complex.

Currently, Flexcar program effectiveness is being analyzed by the University of Washington.


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