Manhattanization: Integration of Ride-Sharing Apps

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Most Prominent Transportation Initiatives in Puget Sound

By William Hillis

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William Hillis

Broker & Research Editor, Realogics Sotheby's International Realty

"Living without an automobile allows cost-savings, both of automobile ownership and in residential construction." 


Software that connects mobile phones, cars, transportation networks and global positioning systems are finally enabling the infrastructure imagined by generations of transportation planners and science fiction writers. These technologies have arrived at the moment of Seattle’s “Manhattanization,” the process coined by Dean Jones of Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty to describe the increasing densities and planned reduction in automobile dependence in the city.


Manhattanization means that Seattle residents will come to live like those of other cosmopolitan cities around the world, but in a 21st-century fashion, facilitated by home delivery of purchased goods by programs like Amazon Key; dockless bicycles provided by LimeBike and Spin; and rideshare apps and networks like Uber and Lyft. In the short run, rideshare technology will continue to be used just as it is in cities around the world, as a technology-driven taxi-hailing service. By 2040, transportation planners foresee an autonomous vehicle corridor with integrated, driverless sharing. Should this be realized, cars without drivers will pick up and deliver passengers to destinations both within and adjacent to the corridor.  

Besides driving demand for the aforementioned technologies, living without an automobile allows cost-savings, both of automobile ownership and in residential construction. Innovative residential projects like NEXUS, for which more than 100 condominiums have been sold without parking spaces, and other projects in the pipeline like KODA with an even lower parking ratio, are banking on the these trends.  Buyers may discount the cost of owning a car (interest on a loan, fuel, insurance, maintenance, parking, tolls, and taxes), treating those savings as funds available for purchase of a home. For those choosing this path, those savings may be sufficient for them to buy a home amid escalating condo prices.

Impact: The convergence of technologies and applications related to commuting and transportation of goods will trend with increasing urban densities and greater investment in condominium construction from downtown Seattle outward.