Community Transit is in trouble. Like almost all transit agencies, they have implemented deep cuts with more to come, and no relief on the horizon: unlike most other agencies, they are out of taxing authority without action by the legislature.
However, there’s a lot of reason to be hopeful about CT’s future, for one reason: North Link.
Link serves a variety of purposes, and as a result it’s often not optimized to beat the express bus every time, particularly if passengers have to transfer. There are many opinions about that, but it certainly does make it less desirable to eliminate service that is somewhat redundant with Link, even if it’s not as reliable and less frequent.
In this case, a large number of CT Commuter buses are traveling a congested freeway between Lynnwood and Seattle with few or no stops. Link will likely have no segments at-grade with arterial traffic and therefore run at 55mph, and serve both the U-District and downtown Seattle on a single line. The 2005 issue paper indicates a 29 minute travel time from Lynnwood to downtown via I-5 and 30 minutes via Aurora, in either case faster than today’s buses with higher reliability. In the 2020s, CT could eliminate or truncate a whole class of routes and cut a huge operating expense without negatively impacting the passenger experience.
Of course, Sound Transit and North Link have budget woes of their own. However, within the Snohomish subarea it makes sense to rob every other program to fund high-capacity transit, as its existence will transform the ability of CT to serve local travel needs.