The commute, the dreaded commute! Bumper-to-bumper for miles, moving down I-5 slower than you backed out of your driveway. Wait, wait, wait—move forward ten feet and wait some more. Watch the minutes pile up.
You should think about this when you pick a house. Map potential routes and test them. Imagine driving from that potential home to your work every day and ask yourself: Is the neighborhood worth it? Is that basement enough to justify an extra fifteen minutes?
We can’t answer these questions for you, but as always, we can help. Here are the best commute-checking tools we could find:
Average Commute Time
Public radio station WNYC mapped average commute times across the nation. You can check yours by exploring the map or simply typing in your zip code. This tool only shows zip code averages, but it’s a good starting point.
Commuting via Public Transportation
Driving takes time, even if your work has its own parking garage. Public transportation could cut your commute in half. The University of Minnesota’s Accessibility Observatory studied that possibility in depth. Their map shows the number of jobs that can be reached by 30-minute or less on public transportation.
Their findings: Seattle is the nation’s 8th best major city for commuting by public transportation. Belltown, South Lake Union, and Capitol Hill are predictably the best areas. Magnolia and West Seattle are some of the worst. But this map has details. Zoom in close to see the stats for your street.
Alternative to Automobiles
So what are those public transportation alternatives to driving your own car to work? Seattle is no subway-stuffed NYC, but it does have quite a few options.
A surprisingly large number of people ride the South Lake Union Trolley. Each streetcar can hold 140 riders (twice as many as a city bus), and on an average weekday, 2,500 people will ride it between downtown and South Lake Union. The streetcar currently only has a 2.6 mile route, but expansions are already underway.
Going from SeaTac to Westlake? Need to get to Sodo or Pioneer Square? Central Link light rail is cheap, easy, and reliable.
For those on the other side of the Sound, consider the ferry. Vashon, Bainbridge, Southworth, and Bremerton—we’re looking at you. The Washington State Ferries replace a start-and-stop marathon driving session with a scenic one-hour boat ride. Commuting via ferry depends heavily upon where you live and work, but those who can do it love it.
Here’s our personal collection of trivia about the ferries.
They aren’t the most reliable, but they are prevalent. The King County bus system stretches into every Seattle neighborhood. And if you’re lucky, you just might find yourself on Nathan’s bus.
New this week! We’re happy to welcome Pronto! bikes, the first bike share of its kind in the PNW. 500 bikes at 50 stations will let people pedal throughout the inner city with ease (barring the hills). The Pronto! Bicycle Share program lets you avoid congestion and hit-or-miss buses. It’s cheap, physical, and good for the environment. And if you’re looking for a bike station, there’s an app for that.