Community Transit service changes start Feb. 20
EVERETT - Bus service at more than half of Community Transit’s bus stops will be changing Monday, Feb. 20, and the bus agency wants riders to be prepared.
Staff members have been and continue to visit park-and-rides to inform riders of the upcoming changes and guide books are onboard that include summaries of the route changes and maps comparing current routes to the upcoming new routes. Bus schedules listing just the new routes are available online and on buses starting Wednesday, Feb. 1.
Local service within Snohomish County has been completely redesigned, which means your current bus number may now go a different route and stop at different park-and-rides or may cease to exist. As for commuter service to Seattle and the University of Washington, the agency has cut back the number of trips so bus times may be different.
Community Transit is asking people to pay attention to the changes, spokesman Martin Munguia said last week.
A detailed list of all the route changes is available online at www.commtrans.org.
Other major changes include ending late-night service. All bus service will end between 10 and 11 p.m. Fewer buses will be running during off-peak times (between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on weekdays). There will be less Saturday service, as well. Paratransit service will see minimal impacts, but changes are online.
There are no route changes for the Swift commuter line, however, trip frequencies will decrease from 10 to 12 minutes on weekdays. Connection routes from Swift stations will change.
Until the economy picks up or the state Legislature gives Community Transit the authority to raise the sales tax or vehicle license fee, the agency doesn’t anticipate adding new services for years.
This upcoming round of cuts represents a 20 percent reduction or 80,000 service hours to eliminate $12 million from the budget to adjust for declining sales tax revenue. The agency’s primary funding source is sales tax revenue. Also, 103 people will lose their jobs, the bulk being bus drivers.
Out of about 1,600 stops in Snohomish County, more than 800 will see changes come Feb. 20.
Rider alerts have been posted at more than 170 stops that will no longer have any bus service. There also will be nearly 50 new stops where you can catch a bus. About 700 bus stops will have route numbers added or removed to reflect service changes.
Over the last three years, Community Transit has cut about 47 percent or 160,000 hours of service, including eliminating Sunday and major holiday service.
Sales tax revenue for the last four years has been flat.
“We’ve been in a trough,” Munguia said.
The agency also may raise fares and will present a proposal to the board of directors in April. Community Transit last raised fares by 25 cents in 2010. Fare raises primarily affect the adult fare, which is at $1.75.
As for any help from the state, the agency isn’t counting on it. Last legislative session in 2011, only Metro in King County got the authority to raise a temporary car tab fee to maintain service levels. Community Transit and Pierce Transit were left out. Community Transit is at its maximum taxing authority and would need state approval to seek additional funding.
“So we didn’t get help from the Legislature last year, and we can’t rely on help this year,” Munguia said.
By JESSICA SPARKS
Published Feb. 1, 2012