The last few years have not been kind to Community Transit or riders in Snohomish County. The Great Recession forced the largest cuts in the agency’s 39-year history, every winter has cancelled Sounder North runs, and the Oso mudslide interrupted bus service to Darrington for several months. Despite these setbacks, Community Transit will be able to welcome 2015 with open arms, with several major events planned.
Sunday and Holiday service restored
This month, the Community Transit Board approved the addition of 27,000 hours of new service, of which 18,000 are to be used on Sundays and holidays. The June 2015 service change, five years to the month after the cuts to Sunday service, will bring hourly Sunday service on major routes and 20-minute headways on Swift.
To fund the new service, Community Transit will be raising their adult and DART fares by 25 cents effective July 1. The increased fare will bring the cost of a round-trip on commuter routes from Marysville, Stanwood and Snohomish to a staggering $11 for adults.
CT plans to keep expanding its bus service hours, with the 2014-2019 Transit Development Plan proposing 60,000 hours of new service by the end of the decade to meet its goal of carrying 12 million annual riders in 2017.
Double the Double Talls
The ever popular Double Tall fleet of double-decker buses will grow to 45 vehicles, the second largest double-decker fleet in the country, after the delivery of the second and third wave of 22 Alexander Dennis Enviro500s in spring and summer, respectively.
Sound Transit is also debuting their 5 double-decker buses, planned to be driven by Community Transit/First Transit drivers on the Snohomish County ST Express routes after their delivery in March.
A New CEO
Longtime CEO Joyce Eleanore retired in August of this year, ending her 20-year tenure at Community Transit to spend time with her grandchildren. The search for a permanent replacement, led by interim CEO and Administration Director Emmett Heath, is scheduled to end with the board’s selection of a candidate in March. Eleanore oversaw the contraction of Community Transit’s services during the aftermath of I-695 and the Great Recession, while introducing bus rapid transit and double-decker buses to the region.
Swift II planning ramps up
Swift II, the planned Boeing-to-Bothell bus rapid transit line, is entering the most crucial step on its way to serving riders in 2018: planning and fundraising through state and federal grants. This week, the Federal Transit Administration gave CT its blessing to move forward on the project, with support from both of Washington’s senators as well as the U.S. representatives from Snohomish County’s two congressional districts.
Swift I, however, was not ignored. Celebrating its fifth birthday, the line will welcome its third pair of infill stations, serving Edmonds Community College at 204th Street Southwest.
Smokey Point gets new transit center
Smokey Point, a textbook example of exurban sprawl in its adolescence, will be opening their renovated transit center with five shelters and improved pedestrian access. Initially scheduled to open this past summer, Community Transit expects construction to be substantially complete in January, with buses using the new stops as soon as it is safe to do so. As the terminus of various north Snohomish County routes, the transit center will be served by frequent, 15-minute weekday service to Marysville, Everett and Lynnwood on Routes 201 and 202, as well as local service on Routes 220, 230 and 240 to Arlington, Darrington and Stanwood, respectively.
The transit center is also proposed as the northern terminus of a possible Swift line on the North Broadway/State Avenue corridor, which would replace Routes 201 and 202 in Community Transit’s long-range plans.
BusFinder: Baby steps to integrated real-time information
Community Transit released a beta version of their real-time departure information system, BusFinder, for mobile devices this past October. The system uses GPS-based estimates of real-time departures from stops, predicting when a bus will arrive at a given location. There is also a mobile version of the beta site for use on smartphones in their web browser.