More people living close to transit

Areas near transit captured a third of the region’s growth in the last decade

Shifting development patterns are bringing residents closer to transit.

PSRC analyzed housing trends from the last decade and found that a third of the region’s population growth between 2010 and 2020 went into areas that are well-served by buses, ferries, and light rail.

The central Puget Sound region is investing heavily in these high-capacity transit (HCT) modes and greatly expanding light rail, bus rapid transit, and passenger ferry service.

Neighborhoods around HCT stations are ideal for increased density, new residences, and businesses—referred to as transit-oriented development or TOD.

Allowing more employment and population growth that’s walkable to HCT promotes use of the region’s transit systems and reduces car trips. But rents and home prices are rising quickly, making it challenging to find affordable housing close to jobs.

The region’s growth strategy, VISION 2050, includes a goal for 65% of the region’s population growth and 75% of employment growth to go into regional growth centers and within walking distance (about ¼ or ½ mile) of HCT.

Over the last 10 years, HCT station areas captured fully one-third (33% or 190,000) of the region’s population growth.

As of 2020, one-fifth (20%) of the region’s population and a quarter (25%) of the region’s housing stock are in high-capacity transit station areas.

King County has the highest share of its population in HCT station areas (31%), followed by Pierce (11%), Snohomish (6%), and Kitsap (4%).

Over the last decade, a number of communities were highly successful in directing growth into places with HCT:

  • More than half (52%) of King County’s population growth over the last decade went to HCT station areas.
  • Almost three-quarters of the growth (71%) in the region's metro cities—Seattle, Bellevue, Everett, Bremerton, and Tacoma—happened in HCT areas.

Recent trends show that the rest of the region has also been shifting development patterns to align with VISION 2050’s policy goal of 65%. But meeting the goal by 2050 will mean substantial efforts to keep directing growth to these strategic places.

Affordable housing will help people who need transit the most.

Promoting or requiring affordable housing in walking distance from high-capacity transit stations and in regional growth centers can help to ensure all residents have opportunities to live in accessible and connected communities.

Such housing will be particularly valuable to low-income households, who are the most dependent on transit and are at risk for displacement as housing costs rise.

To learn more about regional housing work, watch the housing presentation at the Growth Management Policy Board’s July 1 meeting.


Which number is bigger?
# people moved into HCT-area residential options
# people living in HCT-areas using HCT

We don’t have the data needed for that analysis, but here are a couple of Trends we’ve done on transit ridership: