By MICHAEL WHITNEY
Published May 23, 2012
Everett Transit releases final service proposal
EVERETT - Everett Transit released a revised and final proposal for 2012 service cuts. The service reductions are set to be implemented Aug. 26.
The agency still plans to cut routes 9, 14, 27 and 79. Other than Route 9, these are among the agency’s least-ridden routes. Route 9 on Evergreen Way will be covered by Route 7 and Route 8.
Everett Transit will cut service on Christmas, Thanksgiving and New Year’s days. It will maintain seven-days-a-week service for most routes.
The agency also is proposing a 25-cent fare hike starting January 2013 with the City Council’s approval. If fares go up, seniors would pay 25 cents, youths 75 cents and adults $1. The agency has not raised fares since 2009.
Everett Transit will be able to provide a reduced-fare monthly pass for seniors and disabled riders at $9 a month. The agency originally thought it couldn’t offer the monthly pass at a reduced rate because of a technicality related to how the ORCA card is programmed, but found it could.
The cuts represent an up to 15 percent reduction in services. Everett Transit’s union president said the union will keep fighting for its idea that local service cuts could be avoided completely by Everett Transit canceling a contract with Community Transit to pay for its Swift line. The president said last week the Swift contract is a violation of the union’s contract and warned the union may take legal action.
The public will have one last chance to weigh in on the changes at the City Council’s Wednesday, June 6 meeting. The City Council meets at 6:30 p.m. at 3002 Wetmore Ave.
The council is expected to discuss the proposed fare increase at the meeting.
Everett Transit is hosting two more informational meetings on the final proposal. The meetings are 1 to 2 p.m. Thursday, May 24 at the Baker Community Center, 1401 Poplar St., and 6 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 30 at the Evergreen branch of the public library, 9512 Evergreen Way. Two meetings held last week had eight people and three people show up, respectively, Everett Transit operations manager George Baxter said.
Route 9 along Evergreen Way will be supplanted by Route 8, which comes from Everett Station and will now make a loop at the city limits at Airport Road where Route 9 currently terminates. Similar to now, Route 8 will go into the Walmart parking lot, but only enter the parking lot on northbound trips. There is a southbound stop outside the parking lot for Walmart customers, program manager Steffani Lillie said. At a public meeting two months ago, people said they worried they’d lose the ability to get from north Everett to that Walmart.
Everett Transit’s union fought to keep Route 9, arguing Everett Transit could avoid cuts altogether by canceling its contract with Community Transit to pay for Swift. Everett Transit pays 1/12th of its sales tax revenue to Community Transit to have Swift come to Everett. Riders on Route 9 largely switched to Swift, and Everett Transit officials say matching local service to meet demand if Swift went away is more expensive than the Community Transit contract.
Everett Transit’s union president Steve Oss said the union will keep fighting to stop the Swift payments, rattling a saber last week that the union may take legal action.
“We will continue to try to persuade the Mayor and the City Council to try to do the right thing. Paying Community Transit to provide service that we provide is a violation of our contract with the city. We would prefer not to have to take legal action to have them do the right thing but we will,” Oss wrote in an e-mail last week.
The agency also plans to keep the eastern north-south Route 29 largely as is in response to public input. Route 29 will have two variations: one that goes into the Valley View neighborhood and one that does not. The short loop skips the Valley View neighborhood, the Eastmont Park and Ride and Silver Lake. Both variations serve the 112th Street Park and Ride.
Everett Transit plans to rename Route 25 to Route 5. The current Route 25 circles through the city and complements Route 4. The agency will rename the current Route 5 that serves the waterfront to Route 6.
Everett Transit also will modify multiple routes. Route 18, which goes from Everett Station to Mukilteo, will no longer have Saturday service. The new Route 6, which serves the waterfront, will no longer run on weekends.
The agency also plans to reduce service on Route 3, including cutting back on how often it goes into the View Ridge neighborhood. The loop into View Ridge will be cut entirely on weekends.
Paratransit riders who make transfers to other transit agencies at Everett Station also will no longer have an Everett Transit employee wait with them before they board their transfer. Instead, Everett Transit will create a paratransit waiting area.
Everett Transit is cutting services because of drops in sales tax revenue, which is the agency’s core source of funding. At the same time Everett Transit also found it is providing services that riders aren’t using enough.
In 2008, the agency received $18 million in sales tax revenue, a record high. In 2012, it expects only $15 million according to earlier estimates.
Since the Great Recession began in 2008, Everett Transit has dipped into its reserves by millions of dollars to make up the gap.
This is the first major cut to Everett Transit services since the 1990s.
To read the final service change proposal, go online to www.everetttransit.org and click on “ET Service Change Proposal.”