Seattle Transit-Oriented Development and Flexcar - Seattle, WA
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
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, email@example.com
TOD - Ron Posthuma, King County Department of Transportation, TOD
Program Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
Currently, Flexcar program effectiveness is being analyzed by the
University of Washington.