March 30, 2005 Letter to Redmond City Council

re Microsoft Campus Master Plan

Sent: Wednesday, March 30, 2005 10:57 AM
Subject: comments on the Microsoft Campus Master Plan

Dear Rob,

Please forward these comments to the City Council.

As the plan is implemented and updated over the course of the 10 to 20 year master plan lifespan, please consider the following items:

1) A very effective strategy to accommodate significant MS Campus expansion is to provide workforce housing near campus. A further improvement to this strategy is to apply "preferences" for such workforce housing, whereby local workers (who will have very, very short commutes) are prioritized over those who work farther away. The federal Fair Housing Act (FHA) permits thoughtful plans for local workforce preference housing, provided social justice issues are addressed. Many cities are adopting such policies.

2) Please keep a sharp eye on Personal Rapid Transit technology as it evolves. A MS campus PRT circulator system would make transit, ridesharing, carsharing, and other Transportation Demand Management (TDM) efforts significantly more effective. A very preliminary MS campus PRT system has been sketched, with 29 stations, 9.5 miles of elevated guideway, and an "external" station for the Pro Sports Club: - with Microsoft MapPoint maps and - with Microsoft TerraServer 2002 aerial photography. Four variations of PRT technology are currently under development in MN, TX, UK, and Korea. PRT procurements are underway for Heathrow and Dubai International Financial Center. Should a commercial system come into operation and prove out compelling economics, reliability, and safety, further cost/benefit assessment for MS campus is warranted.

3) The master plan's goal of reduced SOV mode share from 72 to 70% is commendable, but a reduction to 62% or less would better accommodate the projected workforce expansion.

4) Microsoft's extensive TDM program stands in the nation's top 20% for suburban job sites. Microsoft's 43-vehicle shuttle bus system is by far the nation's largest. Unfortunately, as a nation, we're not having much success reducing suburban congestion. There is only one proven suburban TDM technique to create a significant nominal solo driving reduction: parking cash-outs / parking charges. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Best Workplaces for Commuters Division compiled 41 TDM case studies. For parking cash-outs / parking charges, nominal solo driving reductions were 16%, 25%, 28%, 20%, 16%, 25%, 34%, and 25%. No other TDM tools produced a nominal suburban solo driving reduction of more than 5%. (For details, see:

5) Accurate, real-time parked vehicle counts will be very helpful in tracking trip reduction created by individual transit investments and TDM programs. Inexpensive wireless technology for such tracking is now available. It is hard to imagine MS's real-estate group funding a campus-wide car tracking system, which could easily cost upwards of $4M. However, Microsoft's Automotive Group may have a vested interest in seeing a pilot system developed on the Microsoft platform.


Jerry Schneider
Professor Emeritus, Departments of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Urban Design and Planning, U.W.

Steve Raney, Cities21, Palo Alto, CA