U-PASS Reports

1999 University District Cordon Study


October 12-21, 1999 Seattle Transportation & the University of Washington



This report documents the results of the 1999 University District Cordon Study. The purpose of the U-District cordon count is to monitor traffic on the streets surrounding the University campus. Both non-University trips and University trips are monitored to determine background traffic growth and University traffic growth.

This study is conducted biannually, and the results from each study are compared with the 1991 baseline trips to determine compliance with the conditions of the 1991 General Physical Development Plan (GPDP).


The 1991 General Physical Development Plan (GPDP) provides a framework for the development of the University of Washington campus growth through the year 2001. The development proposed in the GPDP was expected to increase the number of faculty and staff by approximately 4,300 persons. This projected population increase was estimated to generate 1,000 additional morning peak hour trips to campus. To alleviate the impacts of the proposed development and address parking limitations, the University implemented the U-PASS Program as advanced mitigation. The goal of the U-PASS Program is to reduce the overall number of vehicle trips to campus by providing enhanced transit service and additional incentives for the use of alternative commute modes. The U-District cordon study was designed to help monitor the effectiveness of the University's mitigation program.

The purpose of the 1991 University District Cordon Study was to establish a baseline for University and non-University trips. All future studies will be compared to the 1991 baseline trips to determine effectiveness of the U-PASS program and to ensure that the conditions of the GPDP are met.

Survey Description

The 1999 U-District cordon count was conducted during two weeks in mid October, on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. The dates were:

Tuesday, October 12, 1999 Tuesday, October 19, 1999
Wednesday, October 13, 1999 Wednesday, October 20, 1999
Thursday, October 14, 1999 Thursday, October 21, 1999

The U-District cordon count includes fourteen counting stations. Figure one shows the University District traffic monitoring cordon stations and traffic volumes. These were the same counting stations used in previous U-District Cordon Counts (1991, 1993, 1995 and 1997):

Counting Station Locations:

  • Montlake Bridge
  • University Bridge
  • NE Northlake Way
  • NE 40th Street and NE 42nd Street
  • NE 45th Street
  • NE 50th Street
  • NE Ravenna Boulevard
  • Roosevelt Way NE/ 12th Avenue NE
  • 15th Avenue NE
  • 25th Avenue NE
  • 35th Avenue NE
  • NE 55th Street
  • 40th Avenue NE
  • Sandpoint Way NE

Traffic was monitored at these stations during the morning peak period (7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.) and the evening peak period (3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.). Traffic was monitored in both directions (traveling toward the University District and away from the University District). Mechanical traffic counters recorded the total number of vehicles going through each station (two-way). The results of a survey conducted at each station were used to determine the proportion of motorists either traveling to or coming from the University or its facilities.

Seattle Transportation (SEATRAN) hired and supervised surveyors to monitor traffic at all stations. Four to six surveyors were located at each station with a flagger for traffic control and safety. Surveyors asked motorists who were stopped at a traffic signal, stop sign, or by a flagger, "Is your trip to or from the University of Washington or its facilities?" In addition, the surveyors recorded the vehicle occupancy in the appropriate yes/no column for the time interval being checked.

Survey Results

SEATRAN summarized the individual survey results and vehicle count data by station, and entered the information in an Excel spreadsheet. Staff from the UW Transportation Office reviewed the information generated by SEATRAN and identified corrections. The final corrections were made by SEATRAN staff. The final documentation for the study is recorded in two identical 3-ring binders; one binder is located in the UW Transportation Office and the other is at SEATRAN.

The 1999 survey indicates that an average of 19,243 vehicles enter the U-District cordon during the morning peak period on a given day. Of these trips, on average 8,760 vehicles are destined for the University, which is 45.5% of the total number of inbound trips. The average number of vehicles exiting the U-District cordon during the evening peak period is 34,034. Of these trips, on average 12,166 vehicles are from the University, which is 35.7% of the total number of outbound trips.

The results of the 1999 U-District Cordon Count Survey are shown in tables 1-4. The tables are:

Table 1: Inbound, Morning Peak Period Trips
Table 2: Outbound, Evening Peak Period Trips
Table 3: Outbound, Morning Peak Period Trips
Table 4: Inbound, Evening Peak Period Trips

Table 5 compares the U-District cordon count vehicle trips for the years 1991, 1993, 1995, and 1997.


  • Morning and evening peak period trips for the University of Washington are below the adopted maximum allowed, or "trigger" values.
  • The inbound morning (peak direction) trips decreased by 4.3% from 1997 to 1999.
  • The outbound evening (peak direction) trips decreased by 5.6% from 1997 to 1999.
  • While the University is not being held to trigger traffic levels for outbound trips during the morning peak period or for inbound trips in the evening peak period, the information has been calculated. The outbound morning (off-peak direction) trips decreased by 5.6% from 1997 to 1999. The inbound evening (off-peak direction) trips increased by 4.3% from 1997 to 1999.
See the Appendix for a Summary of the 1999 Cordon Count.