University of Washington - Seattle, WA
FAST FACTS ABOUT: Univ. of Washington - Seattle, WA
Types of TDM: Mode Choice
Keywords: U-PASS, university transportation, parking disincentive, flexible parking, transit service
Area Demographics: UW-Seattle is the City’s second largest employment and activity center outside of the central business district. In 2002, enrollment topped 39,000 students.
Program: One pass, the U-PASS, provides an array of transportation options including transit service, preferential parking, consumer discounts, and rideshare matching.
Results: Due to its success, other campuses have developed their own programs using U-PASS as an example. U-PASS has saved UW-Seattle capital investment costs associated with traditional parking expansion projects. U-PASS has eliminated 91 million trips since 1991.
Cost of Program: $11.3 million for the 2002/2003 school year.
Contact: Peter Dewey, US-Seattle Transportation Office,
Large University Grapples with Growth
The University of Washington’s (UW) Seattle campus of 643 acres is the heart of the University District, the City’s second largest employment and activity center outside of the central business district. In Fall 2002, student enrollment was over 39,000 and faculty and staff nearly reached 22,000. According to 2002 Campus Master Plan efforts currently underway, the Seattle campus is projected to grow by 1,000 students and 2,000 additional faculty and staff by 2012 triggering significant development and transportation demands.
The “Universal” Solution: U-PASS
The current Transportation Management Plan (TMP), U-PASS, demonstrates a strong, collaborative partnership between the University, the City of Seattle and transit providers, King County Metro (Metro), Snohomish County’s Community Transit (CT) and the regional transit authority Sound Transit. In the late 1970’s, University transportation goals were conceived and then formalized in 1983 as part of the City-University Agreement. Specific goals included maintaining 1983 traffic volumes traveling to or from campus during peak periods and limiting UW parking supply to 12,300 while making certain that additional spill-over parking would not occur within the surrounding neighborhoods.
As part of the 1989 General Physical Development Plan (GPDP) for the campus, it became clear that forecasted population growth and development would trigger a significant increase in vehicle trips and a loss of approximately 1,700 surface lot parking spaces to new construction. As part of the GPDP planning process, a task force was formed to develop, guide and oversee the implementation of a new TMP. The task force recognized the importance of transportation incentives as well as complementary disincentives (i.e. parking rate increases).
In 1990, the task force pitched the U-PASS as a “universal pass” providing card holders with a range of transportation options and incentives with one pass, the U-PASS. The U-PASS Program began as a three-year pilot program in 1991 with a budget of $17.4 million. In 2002, the U-PASS annual budget was approximately $11.3 million. Since its inception, the most significant cost of the U-PASS Program is related to transit service. Currently, user fees cover 50 percent of the Program costs while the remaining revenue is generated from parking fines, fees and other UW sources.
Removing the volume discount provided by a quarterly parking pass, the variable rate method favors infrequent users. In other words, the more you park, the higher the fee.
Today, U-PASS provides an array of transportation options for a quarterly fee to eligible students ($35 in 2003) as well as faculty and staff ($48.96 in 2003). Record sales in Fall 2002 indicated that nearly eight-six percent of the total student population participated. Transportation alternatives and programs included with a U-PASS include the following:
• Full fare coverage on Metro Transit, Sound Transit, CT and Sounder commuter train service,
• Free carpool and vanpool parking,
• Vanpool subsidies,
• Discounted “occasional” parking permits,
• Local merchant discounts,
• Ridematching services,
• Reimbursed rides home for faculty and staff, and
• Evening neighborhood shuttle service.
Considering all the transportation options U-PASS provides, it is most frequently used for transit service on Metro Transit, Sound Transit and CT. Transit agencies have preserved and stimulated ridership by increasing capacity and introducing new routes as user needs change. Today’s U-PASS is less than half the price of the traditional bus pass of 1990. Since 1991, 91 million vehicle trips to or from campus have been eliminated by U-PASS transit riders.
Managing traffic demand through pricing has been documented as a key component of U-PASS Program success. Besides quarterly and daily parking rate increases, UW has developed a number of flexible parking features to compliment other U-PASS program components and alternatives to single-occupancy vehicle (SOV) travel including the Pay Per Use Parking (PPUP) program. Basically, PPUP participants are tracked each time they use the West Campus Garage and are subject to a variable parking rate structure. Removing the volume discount provided by a quarterly parking pass, the variable rate method favors infrequent users. In other words, the more you park, the higher the fee.
Today’s U-PASS is less than half the price of the traditional bus pass of 1990. Since 1991, 91 million vehicle trips to or from campus have been eliminated by U-PASS transit riders.
U-PASS Success Leads the Way
Immediately after implementation, U-Pass was a success in reducing vehicle trips and parking lot occupancy on campus. The Program is continually monitored and evaluated through a series of surveys, traffic counts, parking utilization studies, and individual U-PASS component monitoring. As a result, comprehensive measures of effectiveness are available. As reported in the 2001-2002 U-PASS Annual Report produced by the UW Transportation Office, U-PASS has been attributed with the following:
• Prevented the need to build 3,600 new parking spaces saving considerable capital cost,
• Reported 86% U-PASS user satisfaction, a 13% increase over Year 1992, and
• Reduction of 33% in parking permit purchases since October 1990 indicating that users are finding another way to school or work.
In addition, 2002 traffic counts indicate that morning peak period traffic was 18 percent below the 1983 traffic levels, a goal set forth in the City-University Agreement.
As a result of the success of the U-PASS Program on UW’s Seattle campus, similar but fiscally-separate programs have been implemented at UW Bothell, UW Tacoma, and Harborview Medical Center. In addition, Metro has developed FLEXPASS for metropolitan Seattle employers and commuters using the U-PASS as a model. As a tribute to U-PASS success, the Program has been heavily awarded both locally and nationally.