Photo by Mike Bjork

Yesterday, the Community Transit Board voted to proceed with a hybrid alternative for their system restructure set to be implemented next February.  Like the original Alternative I, it will preserve the core commuter route network with some trip deletions here and there.  The local network, however, is more similar to Alternative III, a complete restructure of local services.

From the CT news release:

In 2012, Community Transit’s commuter service will maintain much of its current routing with fewer trips, while local service will be restructured to serve higher ridership corridors. This afternoon, the agency’s Board of Directors voted 6-3 to approve a plan to cut Community Transit bus service 20 percent effective Feb. 20, 2012.

After a summer-long public comment process that included reviews of four proposed service plans, the board chose the so-called Hybrid Alternative, which combines the commuter routing proposed in Alternative I with the local routing of Alternative III, with some modifications. The board did not restore service on Sundays or major holidays.

The gory (or promising, depending on your outlook) details are available at CT’s website.  The hope here is that the local restructure will make the system more productive and efficient than it is now.  And between Sounder and frequent express service already available at  Lynnwood, Ash Way, and Mountlake Terrace, there’s a good opportunity here to emphasize connections that are certainly more cost-effective than one-seat rides.

30 Replies to “CT Board Selects Hybrid Alternative”

  1. Oh good. The connections to the Edmonds ferry terminal kinda sucked if you couldn’t make it there during one of Sounder’s three trips.

  2. I use the local network far more frequently than the commuter one (commute Edmonds to Everett), so this seems to be an improvement in concept. The frequencies suck, but the route design seems to be an improvement.

    So I guess the silver lining is that the cuts allow changes that might be otherwise possible.

    1. Yeah, big cuts like this give the system managers cover for doing something that would otherwise raise a ruckus, ie move and restructure routes. It’s the one silver lining in the cloud.

      1. Interesting that a downturn in revenue actually helps a transit agency run more efficiently with better better and more streamlined services.

  3. If I’m reading the website correctly, taking the bus to Wallace Falls will no longer be possible without taking a day off work to do it on a weekday. While sad, I can’t say I really blame them, given their budget shortfall and the limited transit market for Gold Bar.

    That being said, if Saturday service to Gold Bar is going to get cut, it would be nice to do an STB hike there before the cut happens. I have personally never done this bus trip before and the way things look, if it doesn’t happen the next few months, it will likely never happen. Logistically, it would be simple to arrange. Just pick a #271 trip from Everett or a #510 trip from Seattle to connect to it and everyone who wants to go can just show up on that bus.

    1. The big reason SWIFT won’t run on Sundays is that then DART (CT’s paratransit) would have to run on Sundays.

      There are other ways to control paratransit costs, but none more effective than simply not providing the service for large blocks of time.

      Call it the MMH Blue Law: Sorry paratransit riders, we can’t get you to dialysis on Sundays.

  4. It’s sad to watch local transit agencies ‘eating their own’.
    Transit taxes have steadily increased in all areas of the Puget Sound over the last 20 years, with the combined tax burden from local agencies maxing out their 9/10th sales tax limit, and now a doubling of region wide taxes for Sound Transit. Some stop-gap local taxes have been implemented since sales taxes tanked. RAISE TAXES, you shout back?
    Transit doesn’t operate in a vacuum. When cars are still expected to haul 80% of all the trips made here, and transit accounts for less than 10% (which hasn’t risen much), you reach a point where voters and legislators collectively say “enough is enough”.
    I don’t think transit has done a good job of keeping operating cost down or wisely spending capital dollars on new investments.
    If doubling transits share of transportation dollars over the last two decades hasn’t at least doubled transits share of the users, then maybe they have eroded voter confidence that transit investment is the way out of our congestion mess. We have very little to show for billions of investment. Subsidies on a daily basis for new riders have come at a staggering cost. Both Link and Sounder are far above the bus services it was supposed to replace.
    As budgets get tighter, and tax payers get more stingy, we’ll keep reading about service cuts, shrinking service areas, and scaled back building campaigns.
    CT’s troubles should raise serious concerns about where our transit managers are driving us to.

      1. Has anyone sent this to the crybaby Federal Way City Council that is mad at ST for listening to … the Federal Way City Council?

  5. You’d think CT would consider a surcharge on cash payment as an easy-to-sell extra revenue source.

    BTW, have SWIFT tickets become legible enough that they could easily be used as transfers while boarding other CT buses?

      1. One of the commenters from Snohomish County said it was dumb that SWIFT tickets aren’t allowed as transfers. If the tickets can’t be read in two seconds by an operator in the boarding process, then that ban is certainly not dumb.

        A lot of people here want to see ticket machines all over downtown as a solution to retain all-door boarding and alighting. I want to see the printed tickets become much more legible before that happens, since Metro is likely to accept them as transfers, which will heavily impact the pay-as-you-board portion of routes.

      2. The time on a Swift ticket isn’t any harder to see than on a transfer and boarding with transfers isn’t any slower than with ORCA. Let’s be honest, the problem isn’t with accepting transfers, it’s with giving them that slows down boarding.

  6. My neighborhood has 1 DT Seattle commuter bus, 1 east/west bus, and 1 north/south bus currently. After the change, we will have two north south buses (which for the most part run a very similar route) and no east/west bus, nor our commuter bus.

    So we’re trading 3 diverse routes for 2 redundant routes. Seems weird to me. I can’t say that i’m too stoked about it.

  7. What if CT quit running commuters into Seattle and instead forced transfers to Metro at Aurora Village, Mountlake Terrace, and Bothell? After all, CT’s legal responsibility ends at 244th Street (205th Street from a KC perspective). I’m sure Metro wouldn’t be thrilled but it would be technically “fair”.

    Note: I’m not seriously advocating this, just doing a thought experiment….

    1. I reckon they would alienate a large number of people who have in the past voted in favor of taxes to fund CT.. :)

    2. That was (almost) one of the alternatives, and the public feedback was overwhelmingly negative. I’ve argued in the other articles why that is, and how we can’t expect Snohomish County to be like King County.

      (“Almost” in the sense that CT would still have some commuter runs but more people would have to transfer to them.)

    3. Even better push the commuters onto the commuter bus system (ST). Why does CT run commuters anyway? Run the 113 to Ash way and everyone from Mukilteo can transfer. Start the 511/532 at Mariner instead of Ash Way and everyone along the 101/105/106 routes can transfer in addition to everyone from South Everett via ET. With this method you’d pick up all of downtown Mill Creek, South Everett, Alderwood area, most of Lynnwood, and Mukilteo via the 511. It wouldn’t take that much of a change to knock out 2/3 of CTs Commuters. There would have to be more frequent service on ST because they’d be packed but more service along the backbone is easier to justify.

      1. Now all that needs to be done is figure out how Sound Transit can afford to buy and run the buses. What do you give up?

      2. What about those CT commuters that need to go to U-district area?

        Also, what about north end folks in Stanwood and Marysville that need to go to Seattle?

        You’d make them take a local bus to Everett station to catch ST 512?

      3. What about those CT commuters that need to go to U-district area?

        Instead of running a fleet of buses from different destinations, you’d send them all to Lynnwood/Ash Way, and then start a new ST service from there to the U-District. Arguably, this could end up being much cheaper to run (and with better frequency) then running two versions of every commuter run, one to downtown and another to the U-District.

        Also, what about north end folks in Stanwood and Marysville that need to go to Seattle?

        You’d make them take a local bus to Everett station to catch ST 512?

        I believe that’s the proposal, yes.

        As Mike said, CT considered and rejected this idea, due to overwhelming public disapproval. And that makes sense — compared to King County, Snohomish has far fewer transit-dependent people and far more commuters, so they’re understandably most interested in optimizing for commuter service. I personally would have voted for Alternative 3, but I don’t live in Snohomish (in fact, I’ve never been), so I clearly don’t get a vote. ;)

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