More SR 520 drivers will switch to the bus



​​SEATTLE – When tolling begins on State Route 520 in spring 2011, a new PEMCO Insurance poll reveals that the number of people who say they’ll be more likely to use public transportation has more than doubled since 2008, from 6 to 16 percent. Overall, more respondents (62 percent) now say the tolls will decrease the amount they drive across the 520 floating bridge, compared to 51 percent two years ago.   

“We know the economy has changed since we first started asking respondents about bridge tolls,” said Jon Osterberg, PEMCO spokesperson. “Whether that’s a factor, or it’s simply that people are becoming more decisive as the reality of tolling draws near, the poll tells us we’ll likely see fewer cars on SR 520 and more bus riders than we thought before.”

According to the Washington State Department of Transportation, crews are underway with projects to improve and replace the 520 bridge by 2014. The tolls are part of a state-approved plan to fund parts of the new bridge construction.  

PEMCO’s poll asked Puget Sound drivers specifically what changes they’d make to their driving habits once the state mandates the toll. Three out of four drivers (76 percent) said they’d still drive but would avoid 520 by using Interstate 90 or by traveling north around Lake Washington. 

Another 11 percent said they would carpool more often, and just 6 percent indicated they’d make lifestyle changes like moving residences, changing jobs, or telecommuting for work, according to the poll. 

When faced with the hypothetical scenario of tolls on both SR 520 and I-90, respondents said they’re now five times more likely (from 4 to 22 percent) to use public transportation than they were two years ago. 

“Drivers are thinking more about how the tolls will impact them personally, and many will make changes,” Osterberg said. “We’ll continue to track this issue, especially as tolling approaches,” Osterberg said.  

To learn more about PEMCO’s poll and to view a summary of the results, visit, where the public is invited to participate in an informal version of the poll to see how their own responses compare to those collected by FBK Research of Seattle in April 2010. 

About the PEMCO Insurance Northwest Poll

PEMCO Insurance commissioned this independent survey that asked Washington drivers several questions about driving habits and attitudes toward current Northwest issues. The sample size, 635 respondents, yields an accuracy of +/- 4.0 percent at the 95 percent confidence level. In other words, if this study were conducted 100 times, in 95 instances the data will not vary by more than +/- 4.0 percent.

About PEMCO Insurance

PEMCO Insurance, established in 1949, is a Seattle-based provider of auto, home, boat, life, and umbrella insurance to Washington state residents.  PEMCO Insurance is sold by community agents throughout the state and through PEMCO offices.  For more information, visit