Expedia Employees will Descend Upon Seattle this Fall

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Years after the official relocation announcement, Expedia’s move to Seattle is drawing ever closer, with some employees expected to start work in Interbay this fall. That figure will balloon to 4,500 employees by February 2020, when all Expedia workers are fully relocated. A large concern for Seattleites and commuters is the traffic impact, but as Seattle Times reports, the new office “will be an oasis for employees who want to avoid driving to work, offering private shuttles, plentiful bike amenities and cash for every day they don’t drive.” There is a parking structure for those that are committed to automobile use, which will accommodate 2,300 vehicles with room for expansion.

Though Expedia pales in comparison to the size of other local tech giants like Amazon and Microsoft, the Times reports that “the move will challenge the region’s commitment to reducing drive-alone trips and tackling Seattle’s largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions: vehicle traffic.” It’s estimated that traffic on Elliott Avenue, Mercer Street and Denny Way will all be impacted, with potential congestion effects moving toward Ballard.

The Light Rail expansion to the Eastside will prove useful for employees that live near the current campus, however it will be a few years before that line opens and much longer for the Interbay/Ballard line, which is expected in 2035. Expedia aims to reduce single drivers by nearly 50 percent when the campus opens this year and would like to reduce that rate to just 30 percent over the next decade. To achieve this goal, the company is offering complimentary transit passes, priority carpool parking, and a “commute coach.” When Seattle opens, the Times says, “Expedia will add another sweetener for employees: $5 a day each time they take transit, van pool, bike or walk.”

IN 2019, THE SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL EXPANSION PROJECT (ST3) RANKS AS ONE OF THE TOP 5 LARGEST CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS IN THE U.S.

Expedia has also arranged to charge a daily fee for single-driver parking, while giving many free options to van pool and carpoolers. There will be an estimated 400 bike lockers with 28 showers for those that commute on two wheels. At minimum, three shuttles will run from large Eastside communities, including Bellevue, Kirkland and Redmond, which are considered “reasonably accessible” for at 75 percent of Eastside-based employees.

As Mark Nagle, vice president of global real estate for Expedia Group said in a statement, “we fully recognize that people are going to have to drive in some days because that’s what life is. We just want people to try different things.”

Time will be the greatest measure of success in these transportation measures, but one thing is certain: “if Expedia fails to meet its drive-alone goals, the company will have to come up with additional strategies and, if those fail, could be required to pay toward city traffic-management efforts.” For now, commuters and Seattleites are cautiously optimistic that Expedia has found an effective, traffic-reducing solution.