U-PASS Reports

Employee Residential Distribution Study

Contents



Introduction

The purpose of this study is to analyze where University of Washington employees reside, and to evaluate how the existing transit systems serve them. This study supplements the U-PASS survey, and contributes to the understanding of the UW employee commute patterns. The area of analysis is King, Snohomish, and Pierce Counties, with a special focus on King County.

Methods

The UW Transportation office obtained a database containing street addresses and zip code information of staff and faculty from the University of Washington payroll office. The faculty and staff members in the database who had box numbers associated with the main campus were included in this analysis. A total of 16,954 records were included in the study. Of those, 16,605 were in the Puget Sound area (King, Snohomish and Pierce counties). Since student addresses are less reliable they were excluded from this study.

Geographic Information System (GIS) was employed as the central tool for the spatial analysis. GIS shapefiles were obtained from King County, Pierce County, and the University of Washington. First, the faculty and staff addresses were geocoded. In order to minimize mistakes in geocoding, zip codes were used. Spelling sensitivity was set at 80 percent. To be considered a match, 70 percent of a given address had to match with the reference. Around 87 percent of the database records where matched by the computer. Addresses that have below 70 percent and above 30 percent match were manually matched with candidates. Poor matches are often results of spelling mistakes, errors on directional, or mistakes in reporting zip codes. The computer matching rate was higher in old urban area, such as Seattle, Tacoma, and Everett, but lower in small towns and newly developed areas.

Next, to analyze the spatial distribution of the residences, densities were calculated from the geocoded addresses. The addresses were converted to a 660 feet (1/8-mile) by 660 feet grid cell. Each cell shows an estimated density in quarter mile (1,320 feet) radius and was expressed as number of employees per square mile. This method shows spatial trend rather than individual occurrences.

Proposed Sound Transit light rail stations were then mapped based on the latest available station locations on Sound Transit web site. Three deferred stations and 18 stations in design on a proposed light rail route between NE 45 Street in U-District and South 200th were mapped on Map 3.

Certain Metro bus routes that provide direct service to the UW or the U-District were examined in this study. Due to the size of the University of Washington, buses that operate on the periphery of campus may be accessible to a small portion of the UW staff and faculty. For example, Route 66 is considered to operate on the periphery since it operates on Roosevelt Way NE and 11th Street NE. The buffered areas around bus routes were used in the analysis because most bus stops can be relocated or additional bus stops are added if necessary.

Limitations

A handful of staff and faculty addressees were removed from this analysis due to discrepancies in their addresses for three basic reasons. First, some staff and faculty members use their university mailbox numbers as their addresses for payroll. Secondly, some of them are absent from the main campus although they register to be working here. Therefore, addresses in Yakima, Spokane, and other distant cities were included in the database, but excluded in the analysis. Third, staff and faculty members with P.O. Boxes were excluded from the analysis because they cannot be geocoded to be a particular point.

Findings

I. Residential Locations and Densities

The UW faculty and staff members live all over Puget Sound region. The majority of them, 85 percent, live in King County. Thirteen percent of staff and faculty members live in Snohomish County. Less than two percent of staff and faculty members live in Pierce County. This indicates that working with King County Metro, Sound Transit, and Community Transit (rather than other transit agencies) is adequate and appropriate for the University of Washington.

Map 1 shows staff and faculty residential density in King County and southern Snohomish County. The UW employee residential population distribution is low in most of east and south King County and Snohomish County. Pierce County was not included in this map because density was extremely low.

High concentrations of staff/faculty residences are found in the U-District and the neighborhoods Ravenna, Wallingford, Fremont, Wedgwood, Queen Anne, Eastlake, Montlake, Laurelhurst, and Capitol Hill, as shown in Map 3. Moderate levels of concentration are found in the Greenlake, Greenwood, Ballard, Northgate, and Maple Leaf neighborhoods. Geocoding confirms the U-PASS telephone survey results which indicate that a high percentage of faculty and staff live in King County, especially north of Ship Canal west of Lake Washington.

II. Access to Proposed ST Light Rail Stations

Currently, few faculty and staff live near proposed Sound Transit light rail stations. The Capitol Hill station is an exception; a large number of UW employees live near the station. Currently, Capitol Hill has high level of accessibility to buses. The additional benefits from light rail construction is unknown. The UW will benefit greater from the extension to Northgate rather than the UW - Airport segment. The probability that University of Washington employees will relocate once light rail becomes available is unknown.

III. Access to and Availability of Bus Service

Knowing the geographical locations and distribution of University employees is useful for use in analyzing transit service to the University. The important criteria for bus riders are availability of service, accessibility, hours of operation, service frequency, and the number of seats. Presently, 34 Metro routes provide direct service to the UW. Among them, 18 routes with frequent and direct service to the UW were selected for further analysis. For the purposes of this analysis, "direct service" includes all routes serves the UW and/or U-District. Routes which operate on Roosevelt and 11th are included, but routes which serve SR-520 Montlake stations are excluded.

The availability of transit routes differs greatly among neighborhoods and cities, as shown in Table 1. Some neighborhoods or cities have transfer points where many routes are available. Residents in Ravenna, Lake City, Maple Leaf, Montlake, and Northgate have access to multiple bus routes to the UW. Queen Anne has a direct service to the U-District until around 5 p.m. Laurelhurst is another area that is served by an infrequent service in spite of relatively large numbers of UW employees in the area. Route 25 operates with thirty-minute headways during peak hours and one-hour headways during off-peak hours. The route does not operate after 7 p.m.

Table 1: Direct Metro Bus Services to the UW

Neighborhood/City

Metro Bus Routes:

Neighborhood/City

Metro Bus Routes:

Auburn

167

Jackson Park

73, 78

Aurora Village

370

Kenmore

372

Ballard

44, 46

Kent

167

Bellevue

167, 271, 272

Lake City

65, 72, 75, 79, 372

Bothell

372

Lake Forest Park

372

Burien

133

Laurelhurst

25

Capitol Hill

7, 9, 43

Magnolia

31

Central Area

48

Maple Leaf

68, 72, 73, 78, 79

Columbia City

7, 9, 48

Mercer Island

205

Cowen Park

72, 73

Montlake

25, 48,44,271

Crossroads

272

Northgate

66, 67, 68, 75

Downtown

7, 25, 43, 66, 70, 71, 72, 73

Queen Anne

45

Eastgate

271

Rainier Beach

7, 9, 48

Eastlake

25, 70, (71, 72, 73) 83

Ravenna

65, 68, 71, 72, 73, 74, 83

Federal Way

197

Renton

167

First Hill

9

Sand Point

74, 75

Fremont

31, 46

Shoreline

370

Greenlake

48

Wallingford

31, 44, 45

Greenwood

48

Wedgwood

65, 71

Hawthorne Hills

71

White Center

133

Issaquah

271

Neighborhoods served by frequent and direct bus services to the UW are listed in Table 2. The routes listed in Table 2 provide over 500 seats during morning or afternoon peak hours and over 1,000 seats during mid day. Routes listed may not be available to all residents in a neighborhood. Table 2 lists route numbers by descending order on number of seats provided.

Table 2: Accessibility to buses and seats offered per UW employee

Accessibility to Bus Routes

Seats Per 10 UW Employees

Route Number

Less than

1/8 mile

1/8 to 1/4 mile

Total UW Employees

AM Peak

Mid day

PM Peak

Evening

48

744

598

1,342

22

34

24

18

44

822

359

1,181

19

25

15

27

43

415

407

822

26

49

25

39

7

479

542

1,021

14

17

9

21

74

500

392

892

11

11

8

36

73

716

556

1,272

7

19

12

10

271

207

196

403

22

25

23

13

71

804

583

1,387

6

12

5

15

72

789

583

1,372

6

12

5

9

70

328

228

556

16

41

19

11

75

809

702

1,511

6

7

5

4

65

477

447

924

9

18

11

14

67

404

607

1,011

7

16

8

10

25

504

440

944

6

6

6

0

9

414

527

941

6

17

8

14

31

324

292

616

8

16

8

3

66

563

482

1,045

5

10

4

11

Total

4,727

2,043

6,770

28

47

27

38

Table 2 shows that 6,700 UW employees live near transit routes that serve the UW or the U-District. Of those, 4,727 live less than 1/8 mile from these frequently operated routes to the UW. About 2,043 employees live between 1/8 and 1/4 mile from the transit routes. While the number of seats offered for the UW employees by route, it may seem that the number of seats which are offered are not enough. However, since many residents have access to more than one route, the system wide availability of seats per employee is much higher than the individual route availability. During the morning peak period, 28 seats per 10 UW employees were available on the selected Metro bus routes. Specifically, 47 seats per during the midday, 27 seats during the afternoon peak period, and 38 seats per 10 UW employees during the evening are available.

The number of seats available per UW employee by route is a type of indicator that shows service level. This must be interpreted with caution as some routes provide express service or limited stops. Routes 48, 44, and 43 provide large number of seats. The routes that offer a small number of seats per UW employee in unduplicated service area are strong concern. For example, route 25 service area is not served by other routes, and only 6 seats per 10 UW employees are provided throughout the day.

Potential Future Studies

This study did not differentiate between faculty and staff members. Future studies need to make a separate analysis for each staff and faculty since the U-PASS telephone survey results indicates that they are two distinct groups. The future study will provide insights in generating different marketing strategies for the two groups. Examples of research questions are, "Are the residential locations of staff and faculty very different?", and "How do work hours, residential locations, or attitudes influence transportation choice?"

This research analyzed individual routes rather than a neighborhood. Neighborhood level transit analysis is useful to see if areas or corridors receive adequate level of transit service for commuting to the UW main campus. There are several neighborhoods that have poor transit connections to the UW, and some that have excellent service. Each route needs to be segmented to understand the service level. The future research should focus on segments and directions that improve commuting options to the UW. For example, route 48 riders commute from Greenwood direction and Rainier Beach direction in the morning. Route 48 is the only choice for Greenwood residents, but Rainier Beach residents may ride routes 7 or 9.

Participation in the U-PASS vanpool program has been stagnating or slightly declining in numbers of vans and U-PASS holders participating. By mapping origins and pick-up points, the UW Transportation Office may analyze where we can target to recruit additional vanpoolers or to start up a new vanpool group. Generally, the starting points for many vanpool groups are various Park & Rides. Sometimes one-way commuting mileages among riders in the same van differ by 50%. Many van groups are filling seats by picking up passengers along the way.

Geocoding U-PASS survey results will give the UW Transportation Office a great wealth of data. Because faculties and staffs most likely provide their home addresses, they can be geocoded first. By geocoding before the U-PASS survey, it is possible to get samples from the area of interest.

Conclusion

The UW employees live in most parts of King County, in southern Snohomish County, and along the Pierce County I-5 corridor. The UW employee residential density is high in certain parts of Seattle and low in the suburbs.

The UW Transportation Office needs to generate different transportation emphasis on different areas. Among high-density neighborhoods, Queen Anne, Laurelhurst, and the area west of Green Lake have low level of transit service. Direct service to the UW is desirable if feasible. In low-density neighborhoods and suburbs, carpooling and vanpooling needs to be promoted.