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North by Northwest 28

Photos from my trip

Part 1 – The Ride to Island Transit HQ

Having been inspired by Glenn in Portland and fueled in part by a genuine fear of losing Island Transit’s 411W due to Island Transit cutbacks; I decided with the very genuine need to park a video camera at the Washington State Auditor’s Office (hereafter SAO) Exit Conference with Island Transit on 24 October for STB purposes to make a loop trip.  I started from Skagit County around to Island Transit HQ south of Coupeville to the Mukilteo-Clinton ferry to the Future of Flight and then back to Skagit.  I’ve also decided to instead of imbedding every photo to hyperlink most to the Imgur album.

I decided due to the very real threat the State Auditor’s Office (SAO) Exit Conference being moved up before 10 AM to where I could not arrive and video the entire conference to take A Better Cab [(360) 755-9262] (which I recommend for your Skagit taxi needs since 2007) to the Chuckanut Park & Ride.   Yes, the same Park & Ride I’ve written about before where I’ve seen folks relieve themselves around the station or against a lightpost due to lack of basic amenties.

I then boarded the Skagit Transit 208 south to Skagit Station.  A nice half hour ride and happy to pay the $2 for an all-day in-county pass to Skagit Transit, which is saving me a buck for the day.

Especially as thanks to Island Transit pinching pennies Island Transit no longer has 411W stop at Skagit Station but now March’s Point Park & Ride.  This now means a $1 fare or using your $2 all-day in-county Skagit Transit pass from Skagit Station on a small bus with hard seats to March’s Point.  A short wait later, Island Transit’s 411W arrived.  On board, surprisingly & shockingly for a fare-free transit agency in fiscal dire straights was this ad:

Washington State Ridesharing Organization Ad for Trip to Alaska

Yes, Island Transit is deferring its insurance payments but has these ads all over their buses.  Profligate spending if ever… especially as dues to Washington State Ridesharing Organization are somehow a higher priority than the state’s transit insurance pool.  Paging Mayor Studley… paging Mayor Studley…

At least I had a pleasant ride with another avgeek who was my driver over to Oak Harbor in a comfortable seat.  Once in Oak Harbor I had about 20 minutes to cross the street, use the public restroom and then cross back to board the Route 1 bus.  After politely informing the driver I was writing for STB about Island Transit, I had a driver helpfully pull me off at the closest bus stop for Island Transit.  Through no fault of the driver, the bus stop was a gravel lot with no sidewalk a 10 minute, 0.5 mile walk from The Transit’s HQ.  Not exactly conducive to having riders hold Island Transit to account… in fact I was the only transit rider to attend the SAO Exit Conference.

Part 2 – Island Transit HQ to the Clinton Ferry Dock

Island Transit HQ Sign

As a transit user who genuinely wants Island Transit to succeed and be accountable; I was not too happy with the fact Island Transit spent money on artsy fartsy benches, a rarely used exercise room & conference room, unused golf carts and refrigerators, gazebos and snow removal equipment, a time-out room and BBQ equipment.  Nor am I happy at all the CPA for Island Transit couldn’t take a few basic questions for an upcoming post on Island Transit right now sitting on my editor’s desk…

Even worse was sitting through the Island Transit Board’s mini-meeting I took a black & white still of and also put on video – where the Island Transit Board could not make basic decisions on allowing public comment and recruiting for a permanent replacement for an Executive Director.  Having stood though that as the only transit user I agree with Oak Harbor Mayor Dudley the Island Transit Board need to start multitasking or needs replacement.

I’ve written up all about the SAO Exit Conference so will spare you another 1,500+ word commentary.  Enjoy this picture though.

After standing and video’ing all that accountability, I had a ride from a new friend to the nearest Island Transit southbound bus stop lacking a bench or shelter.  I boarded Island Transit’s Route 1 again from that stop and Route 1 was running behind schedule.  At least the seats were comfy… and I did get to my final destination.  Namely here:

Island Transit Route 1 at the Clinton Ferry Terminal

Part 3 – MV Tokitae to Future of Flight

MV Tokitae

As Island Transit Route 1 was running late, I did not get to ride the MV Kitsap but instead as you can see the MV Tokitae.  Brand new ferry, desperately needed part of renewing the state ferry system fleet.  I was hoping for a chance to get some external photos of this beaut before taking interior pictures, but oh well.

The MV Tokitae is kept very clean, has a closed sun deck due to US Coast Guard crew requirements versus budgetary constraints but open small decks over the car deck, has dignified advertising, a dining area, a nice cafe, the personnel were professional.  I then got to go outside and enjoy seeing the Mukilteo lighthouse.  Once landing on Mukilteo, I had an about 3 minute walk to a Community Transit bus stop.

At this point, I began to truly appreciate urban transit.  So far this day I’ve had to deal with rural transit where runs are every hour.  At Community Transit, service with Community Transit Route 113 is every half hour.  So instead of standing in the middle of nowhere waiting for a bus, the wait’s only a few minutes to get onto Route 113.  Although this bus’s interior is dated, I was in no position to complain for a short ride.

With a GoPro taking stop motion on my head, the time soon arrived to accomplish the second big video sortie of the day.  Namely a stop-motion of the hike up to Future of Flight.  I’ve made this YouTube to provoke some discussion so here you go:

I think now you know why I’m so pushy on getting a bus stop at Future of Flight.  It seems after talking to the City of Everett this will require Community Transit re-prioritization.  So will be covering the new Community Transit service.

Part 4 – The Ride Home

No pictures as I was frankly tired and shook up by tragic events a short distance away.  I had a friend drop me off at the SWIFT, then barely missed Skagit Transit 90X.  The jerk driver wouldn’t stop as he pulled out, I ran and yelled “WAIT, WAIT” so I got stranded for an hour at Everett Station.  Called the supervisor to complain, torqued off the driver couldn’t wait a damn 30 seconds.  Then I got on the next Skagit Transit 90X, then a 45 minute wait due to a route detour & Stilliguamish River bridge repair, then the Skagit Transit 300 and got home.  Again, I had important video to compile and upload.  Hard to have good transit connections when transit can’t stay on schedule – and the Stilliguamish River bridge work + a special detour is totally messing up connections.

Overall, this day trip loop is worth making if you have the time.  Due to Island Transit cutbacks a loop trip on Whidbey Island can only be done Monday-Friday which seems indefinite until Saturday service returns.  Also need to make sure you can miss a mass transit connection or two.

NOTE TO READERS: As regular readers might be aware, I am an avgeek first and when the US Navy EIS Team came to the region – that took precedence over my regular writing.  Also I have a post for Page One before our Senior Editor Martin Duke… stay tuned.

Do want to warn you folks that I intend to throttle back on the Island Transit portfolio to a point I may just post some hyperlinks.  For one, Community Transit is about to install some new service and as you just saw, I need to pivot there.  For two, Sounder North merits inquiry.  For three, Island Transit has been thoroughly covered and now Island Transit has to take its place alongside other issues as it seems Island Transit’s fiscal implosion has hit bottom for a while.

6 Replies to “North by Northwest 28: Looping from Skagit to Whidbey to Snohomish to Skagit”

  1. No offense but you can’t complain about buses staying on schedule in the same paragraph as the report that you called a supervisor about a driver that wouldn’t stop for you as it was pulling out. Unless the bus left a timepoint considerably early, the driver did the right thing.

    1. M, good point and no offense taken. Good to hear from my readers.

      However the driver could have given me 30 seconds as the Community Transit Swift had just pulled in. The 90X has been running about 15-30 minutes late due to a detour and I-5 bridge repairs.

      That’s my take, but good point.

  2. As a transit operator, I like to point you out a couple things and I hope you will understand.

    In most cases, most places/businesses that are advertised on buses actually pay the transit systems to advertise on their buses. The transit systems do not normally pay a penny unless it is their own advertisement. Some of you may correct me if I’m wrong, but this is on behalf of where I work.

    The other thing is, if the bus driver is right on time or late, they DO NOT have to stop and wait for you if you are practically running to catch the bus, but it is common courtesy for them to stop if they see you. However, a driver can NEVER leave a timepoint early unless it says so (but most systems do not). The one thing that really aggravates me is when I’m running late (lets say about 10+ minutes) and someone runs for the bus, once I stop, they walk and take their time. One of my coworkers would always shut the door and take off if it happened to him and he’d always get away with it.

    In addition, I always like your updates with Island Transit. It’s kind of sad to see one of the best systems in the state to collapse like it did. Once their issues get resolved, I may look into applying for them, that is if it seems promising.

    1. Brandon;

      Thanks for giving me the transit operator perspective. I much appreciate.

      #1. I wonder why Island Transit is deferring payment to the insurance pool but not the ridesharing organization? That’s my beef.

      I do support advertising on Island Transit to help right the ship. I agree, “It’s kind of sad to see one of the best systems in the state to collapse like it did” and it’s hard for me to turn out these updates. I’m at the point of publicly calling for the majority of the Island Transit Board to go. I’ve had it.

      There is some genuine hope there beneath the Board level of governance, but until the Martha non-Rose legacy is excised and it’s clear when Island Transit will restart Saturday service, Island Transit isn’t worth applying to. If I won the lottery, I would not move to Island County for at least 2-3 years because that’s how long it’s going to take for Island Transit to shake out or die off. I hope sincerely for the former.

      #2. I was running and anytime I have a bus wait, I remain running for as long as I can out of courtesy. If somebody slows down, pull the whistle. IF they don’t get the message – pull away. As a transit user who has almost all my trips depend on a connection – and most of the time 3-5 connections, I get it. But to not stop when your schedule is already going to make you 15-30 minutes late for a 15-second pickup is questionable.

      1. If I decided to move back in the upper Puget Sound, Community would be my first pick to apply to since their service is expanding and seem a bit promising. But right now, it seems like the jobs for operators are opening in the South Sound more than they are in the North.

        As far as Island Transit goes, it’s going to take a while for them to get back to normal. Yes, they did need a new facility, but it doesn’t appear that they were reasonable with their budget when they built it. Had they paid attention and not get all the unnecessary bs along with it, the system wouldn’t be as bad as it is now. If there is any hope that will help, other than to resolve all the conflict going on, it will be to start charging the passengers. But the issues are, passengers will be upset that they will have to pay to ride the bus, and purchasing and installing fareboxes will not be cheap, even if they are the generic ones.

        Last but not least. Some drivers don’t necessarily want to wait 15 seconds to pick up a passenger because they think it will delay them, even if they are right on schedule. In urban areas, it’s common especially since there are buses every 10-20 minutes on the same line, not to mention there are more obstacles that can slow them down, so they really don’t have any time to wait. But I do agree with you, it is questionable with some drivers. The way I see it, if someone actually makes an effort to catch a bus, I’ll be more and willing to wait.

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