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The cost and congestion of driving in Puget Sound

SEATTLE  – According to a survey conducted by Commute Seattle on behalf of the Seattle Department of Transportation, just 25% of people who work downtown get to their jobs by driving alone.

Soon, anyone driving through the city could be paying every day to drive the roads. Q13 News is tracking just how much you could be spending.

Because of a lack of public transportation and more people living in the area, our roads are packed.

“I have great regrets Seattle didn’t get on the metro or subway system years ago,” said Queen Anne resident Virginia Stamey.

Lifelong Seattleite Virginia Stamey says she can’t avoid driving.

“Sometimes I’m called spontaneously to appointments where I have to have a car to get there,” said Stamey.

Have you noticed the new sign right before you get to the entrance of the new SR 99 Tunnel that ready to display tolls?

Just a heads up the long-delayed and over-budget tunnel will come with a toll of $2.25 during the peak afternoon commute. So a trip between the University of Washington and Renton taking SR 520 to Interstate 405 using the express lanes could cost $7.59 per day and on a five-day work week, it could total up to $151.80 a month.

“I take the bus because parking right here is pretty ridiculous and the price and it’s just easier to do,” said Issaquah bus rider Alex Hagen.

Ales Hagen tries to avoid driving altogether.  It’s not just the highways that are definitely not freeways. Driving on the busiest of streets of downtown Seattle could start to cost you in Mayor Jenny Durkan’s plan of congestion pricing by 2021.

“We need more buses we need more trains those are full right now. So just dropping a tax on people without those other options in place, I’m not so sure it’s the right strategy,” said Downtown Seattle Association President & CEO, Jon Scholes.

The Downtown Seattle Association doesn’t want people to hate driving into the city. They’re pushing for more public transportation not more tolls.

“We’ve seen people when they’re offered more options, bus service, light rail, commuter rail, they take those options,” said Scholes.

There’s a new option that launched this summer, with a service extension added into 2019 called Free Waterfront Shuttles.  Money from the State Department of Transportation in partnership with the Downtown Seattle Association funds the project to mitigate the effects of the viaduct coming down.

“That’s another option once you’re in the city to move around and it’s free to everybody. You get on. You get off. You don’t pay anything. You don’t need a card; entirely free,” said Scholes.

Q13 News called Mayor Durkan’s office Wednesday to learn more about congestion pricing but did not yet hear back. When the mayor originally announced this push, the details like which streets could see a toll and during what hours were not released.