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Sunset at the Chuckanut Park and Ride..
Chuckanut Park & Ride – Photo by AvgeekJoe

[Joe 2300 Hours note: Skagit Transit hyperlinks corrected.]

Recently Bruce Nourish wrote a fine piece on Spokane’s transit woes.  Woes perpetuated by the moneyed interests of that fine city based on prejudicial myths of transit users.

I see some similarities in my Skagit County – we too have a ruling elite to the point one family is about to marry massive economic power with sizable political power, we too have all the mainstream news owned by another family with declining resources for muckraking government, and we used to have a transit hub in the downtown of Burlington at the Cascade Mall which was good for commerce.  Now we have courtesy of the Washington Department of Transportation a Park & Ride at the north of Burlington for a transit hub linking Skagit Transit Routes 300 between Sedro-Woolley & east Burlington, 80X to Bellingham, 90X to Everett and 208 to Burlington & Mount Vernon shopping. See an aerial view below:

View post on

Granted, the Park & Ride is convenient to drop folks off, to pick up buses and next to Interstate 5 with 369 parking slots.  But the previous hub was the Cascade Mall with vast amounts of parking plus lighting & security cameras that did not cost Washington State taxpayers $11,852,000.

Now… there is no restroom with all the sanitary issues that entails, there are few places to shop within a walking distance, and there is no commons area that is warm in the winter and cool in the summer – all of which the Cascade Mall provided the public.  There is only now apathy, a lit bus shelter, video cameras, and 369 parking slots.  There is only each Skagit Transit user’s silence to blame – don’t let this happen to you.

To invigorate any effort to be proactive perhaps consider the reply to my recent comments into the Skagit Transit 6-year Plan asking for a restroom and a temperature-controlled commons area: “There are no plans to add facilities to existing park and rides and no change will be made to the 6-year plan to address restroom facilities. … Bathroom facilities at un-staffed park and rides are commonly vandalized and can even become a safety and security risk. The high rate of vandalism and associated cost makes the provision of restroom facilities at the park and rides prohibitively expensive.”  I spoke up too late, not while this facility was in the public planning stages where proposing a public restroom and the recruiting a Starbucks franchise to the Chuckanut Park & Ride would have been so immensely helpful.  The nearest espresso stand is instead across a very busy boulevard with no public restroom or place to stay warm.

Put bluntly as so many transit users – including yours truly – were apathetic during the planning process for this $11.8 million facility; transit planning travesties like this occur.  For too long, moneyed interests and entrenched bureaucrats in cushy jobs have taken advantage of transit users’ apathetic unwillingness to speak up and be treated like customers.  Only when we transit users band together and reply as proud customers of transit will we make things right as in business: the customer is almost always right.

15 Replies to “North by Northwest 05: The Price of Apathy, Skagit Edition”

  1. 1. Your Skagit Transit links don’t work

    2. It’s a park and ride. If you wanted the restrooms and retail, that would be a transit center. There are numerous park and rides around the state which are nothing but a bus stop sign and a parking lot. The fact that is a shelter and surveillance is a step up.

    Honest question, does anyone transfer here or is most of the ridership riding to/from here? Even if you were transferring from the 80 to 90, you’d do it at Skagit Station where the amenities you want already exist.

    1. M;

      1) Thank you – apparently I need to fix them, then tell Skagit Transit.

      2) I still think basic needs can and should be addressed. Nothing wrong with being entrepreneurial about them – we already spent $11.8 million on the enterprise.

      3) Yes, there are quite a few transfers from the 80X & 90X to local routes & vice versa.

      1. Every guide I have ever seen on the 80X > 90X (indeed the run that meets at 2 is actually schedule with the 90x leaving 2 minutes before the 80x at Chuckanut) was to transfer at Skagit Station…the warmth + restroom is covered by it. you are looking as many non-regionally focused people in Skagit County think: that Burlington and Mount Vernon are distinctly different areas…yes they are separate cities but from a planning view they need to work together…You are missing reasonable retail immediate to Skagit station but honestly, that is such a minor component, we need to recognize as activists the different between “needs” and “wants”, retail near station to snuggle up and read and be all bourgeois is a pure “want”

      2. Mike;

        I’m from Sedro and I also use Skagit Transit 40X + a MV connection to Burlington as necessary. So I do need some place to use the restroom if I have to wait another hour to use a restroom due to a missed 300 connection and frankly a Starbucks should be recruited to the Burlington Park & Ride with some tax incentives for the bourgeois part of this.

        This isn’t about bourgeois, this is mostly about basic human needs. Okay?



  2. As the aerial view shows, Skagit Transit planners also gave virtually no thought regarding the delay to buses entering and exiting the facility. At a tiny additional cost, they could have built an entrance directly from the I-5 exit ramp, rather than making the bus loop all the way around. Getting back on the freeway is even worse, as the bus is actually forced to make a right turn heading away from the freeway, turn turn around at a roundabout half a mile up the road. The one time I rode through Chukanut P&R on the 80X, it came down to about a 10-minute time penalty to serve the stop, while loading or unloading no more than 1-2 passengers. For $11.5 million, they could have done a lot better than that.

  3. A mall isn’t going to care about transit. If you’re lucky enough to get a dedicated bus transfer space, it’ll be stuck in the middle of the parking lots with terrible pedestrian connections.

    Everett Mall’s little transit center is an example of this, stuck in the back of the mall far away from the main entrances.

    1. Last time I was up there, Burlington Mall was not doing very well at all. The economy was probably the bigger issue, but moving their transit center out to the freeway probably didn’t help.

  4. The malls not wanting transit service to their front door, its backwards.

    Every time I bus/drive/rail by this park and ride I think, “why of all places did they build that there” outside of any city amenities. Compare it with a connected transit facility like downtown Mt. Vernon and it makes me sad. Good example of transit as an afterthought not the first impulse for state investment.

  5. Wait–did this replace the transit center by the Amtrak? When did that happen? That’s really unfortunate. It was in a fantastically walkable location. Ugh.

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