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Seattle Mayor Durkan’s transportation plan calls for more than tolls

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan made headlines this week for suggesting tolling downtown streets. In a report outlining near-term actions to reduce carbon emissions, Durkan announced Seattle will develop a strategy to put a price on the use of city streets through “congestion pricing.”

But tolling downtown isn’t the only transportation change Durkan is suggesting. The report also recommends requiring all new and renovated parking structures to include electric-vehicle charging stations. Durkan also wants to work with stakeholders to electrify all for-hire vehicles including taxis and vehicles operated by ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft. Below is a table outlining the city’s agenda and its potential to reduce emissions.


According to the report, approximately two-thirds of Seattle’s carbon emissions comes from road transportation — 50 percent from passenger vehicles and 16 percent from freight vehicles.

“Transportation is the number one contributor of Seattle’s climate emissions,” said Seattle City Councilmember Mike O’Brien (District 6) in a press release. “If we are going to do our part to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement, we must start with these bold measures that push the City towards investing in alternatives to unsustainable fossil fuels in our vehicles.”

Another major carbon emitter in Seattle is building energy use. Residential and commercial buildings account for about one-third of Seattle’s emissions, which is why Durkan’s climate action plan also recommends a series of building efficiency changes. The plan calls for incentivizing the conversion of 18,000 oil-heated homes to electric and developing a pilot program to offer additional height and floor area incentives for major downtown renovations in exchange for cutting water and energy use below code.

“As our city continues to grow, we must move beyond incremental change and fundamentally reshape our building and transportation systems for a fossil fuel-free future,” said Durkan.

Seattle’s Office of Sustainability and the Environment will be responsible for reporting to the City Council on the progress of these initiatives.