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Common Carrier Locker Systems – Evaluation of Sound Transit Train Stations and Transit-Oriented Development Areas, Phase I (Task Order 3)

Start Date: December 2017
Funding: City of Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT)
Project Budget: $50,000

This study explored locating common carrier lockers at or near three of Seattle’s Link Light Rail stations. The Urban Freight Lab developed multi-factor criteria to evaluate placing common carrier locker systems on public property and applied it to evaluate potential sites at or near three of Seattle’s Link Light Rail stations and the Transit-Oriented Development areas near them. Mobility hubs aim to consolidate multiple modes of transportation – bicycles, ride shares, trains, and buses – within well-designed, well-connected public spaces containing ample community amenities.

Placing common carrier locker systems specifically at or near transit sites offers unique public sector benefits:

  • Improving an amenity that adds value to transit stations and the Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) areas near them, by ensuring that riders can get their online orders when expected in a secure, convenient place.
  • Cutting crime and providing a safer environment for residents and workers.
  • Ensuring that all city neighborhoods can receive online orders, not just a few.

Additionally, common carrier locker systems support King Country Metro Transit’s, SDOT’s, and Sound Transit’s mobility hub policies, which call for rider amenities that create lively public spaces.

This study included a survey of 185 riders at three Link Light Rail stations  – University of Washington Station, Capitol Hill Station, Westlake Station – which showed strong rider interest in common carrier lockers. Sixty-seven percent of respondents at the UW Station said they would use common carrier lockers located at that station, and nearly half the respondents at the other two stations said they would use lockers or consider using them. The vast majority of these riders expressed a willingness to carry a package three to six blocks, and 24-42% of riders reported a willingness to walk with a package seven or more blocks.

Approximately 137,000 people live within a 30-minute walk of one of these three stations. Each station has residential housing within a five-minute walk or less. From two of the stations – Capitol Hill and Westlake – the majority of housing is less than a 15-minute-walk away. This suggests that, since a significant percentage of riders expressed willingness to walk considerable distances with packages, tens of thousands of Seattle’s urban residents would be willing to use common carrier parcel locker systems located at transit stations.

Location Criteria

Researchers and stakeholders devised criteria for locating lockers at or near transit stations. These criteria are built around four central categories:  location and logistics, market demand, operations, and legal considerations.

Five Potential Locker Locations

The criteria in the “location and logistics” category – lighting, electricity, visibility, ADA standards, commercial vehicle access, commercial vehicle parking, live ethernet/strong cellular, vehicle traffic flow management, pedestrian traffic flow management – proved especially helpful to researchers and stakeholders in evaluating potential sites. Based largely on these criteria, they identified five viable pilot locker locations:

  • Husky Train
  • Capitol Hill Bikes Under Cover (Cap Hill #1)
  • Capitol Hill Streetscape (Cap Hill #2)
  • Capitol Hill Mural Interior (Cap Hill #3)
  • Westlake Retail Hub


King County Metro Transit, Sound Transit, and the Seattle Department of Transportation, working with the UFL, have demonstrated national leadership in conducting this first-ever study of locating common carrier lockers on public right of way at or near transit stations. This study reveals strong interest among both potential locker users (Link Light Rail riders) and carriers (UPS and USPS, both UFL members). Researchers selected five potential locker sites, one or all of which will be pilot tested in future research. Pilot tests will provide an opportunity to see how riders respond to the lockers and to what extent lockers reduce dwell times and failed first deliveries. No single solution can solve all of the challenges that plague the Final 50 Feet of the urban goods delivery system. This research shows that common carrier parcel lockers are a promising first step in improving freight transport in urban areas.