CT 9165 at Everett Station
Likely to be replaced in 2017, under the proposed budget

Community Transit has released their proposed 2017 budget, which estimates $19 million in additional sales tax revenue thanks to the passage of the 2015 ballot measure, for a total of $172 million in operating revenue and $134 million in operating expenses.

CT plans to use the additional funding to increase bus service by 6 percent, building on recent expansions and service improvements. More detailed plans will be released closer to planned implementation in March and September, but the transit development plan from May proposes 6,000 service hours spent mostly on evening service for the Swift Blue Line and routes 101, 113, 115, 201, 202, and 222. Routes 119 and 120 would also see an increase in mid-day service. Conceptual plans for a South Snohomish County route restructure in the September service change would come along with additional weekend service and additional trips on commuter routes. A final plan for the September service change will be released early next year for public comment.

CT placed an order for at least 57 buses from three different manufactures in August, and plans to operate new service and replace older vehicles with the new fleet. The 2017 budget allocates $63.4 million for the new buses, taking a plurality (but not majority) of capital funds; the rest is spent on upgrades to transit centers and building the Swift Green Line ($50 million), machine upgrades and new security cameras ($13.6 million), and other costs ($4.7 million total). The entire Green Line will cost $73 million, but operations will be funded by an expected $50 million in federal grants; the project will be CT’s largest, surpassing the Blue Line when it opened in 2009 for $29 million.

One possible route for the Swift Orange Line: Edmonds-Lynnwood-Mill Creek

Of the leftover funds, including routine administrative costs and wages for employees, $4.4 million is allocated towards planning and development. With planning and design work on the Green Line about to wind down, CT will fund early planning of a possible Swift Orange Line that would open in 2023 to feed Link light rail at Lynnwood Transit Center, likely to serve southern Snohomish County. CT expects Swift lines to open every few years, with a goal of a complete network by 2030, extending to Edmonds, Marysville, eastern Mill Creek, and Arlington.

A public hearing on the 2017 Proposed Budget will be held at 3 p.m. Thursday, November 3 at the monthly Community Transit Board of Directors meeting at 7100 Hardeson Road in Everett (accessible on Everett Transit route 8). Written comments can be sent to riders@commtrans.org or Community Transit, 7100 Hardeson Road, Everett 98203.

26 Replies to “Community Transit’s Proposed 2017 Budget: More Buses and More Swift”

  1. It would be nice to get the headways down on the main Swift line to 6 minutes. In my opinion, 12 minutes is not frequent enough to warrant spontaneous trips, or stop looking at a schedule. Transfers are likely a big part of Swift service, since Swift doesn’t go the entire Aurora corridor (it would be an extremely long bus line if it did). I’m sure it is also common for people to head over to Aurora before heading north of south.

    Since Swift has off board payment, I assume adding service is a bit more expensive. You not only have to pay the driver, but the fare enforcer. Even so, I would expect that if they doubled service they would get a big jump in riders.

    1. The plan is to restore 10 minute headways in the short term. I dont think the corridor needs 6 minute headways, especially when there are more pressing needs elsewhere. I do think that weekend service could use a boost to 15 minutes instead of the current 20.

      1. >> especially when there are more pressing needs

        Fair enough. If that is the case, though, I sure don’t see why an investment in rail beyond Lynnwood makes any sense. If the area has more pressing needs than giving a bus on its most important corridor significantly better frequency, then it should invest in both before the very expensive rail line.

      2. Ash Way and Mariner both have relatively dense housing and room to grow, so if ST3 would need to be scaled back I would stop it there.

        But, this is about CT’s needs, which would be helped with a larger ST3 to free up bus capacity.

      3. >> But, this is about CT’s needs, which would be helped with a larger ST3 to free up bus capacity.

        Spending billions to save millions.

        Besides, how much are you going to save when Link gets extended beyond Lynnwood? Without a doubt CT will save money when Link gets to Lynnwood — there are a lot of buses that slog there way into Seattle. But Lynnwood to Everett? Not so much. Running trains — especially empty trains — is expensive. You only save money if you run a train less often. Often this is the result of combining a corridor, but again, north of Lynnwood this corridor is really not that busy. Just about every bus gets truncated at a different stop, not eliminated. This often means ending at Ash Way instead of Lynnwood. Ash Way, unlike Lynnwood, does not have an HOV entrance from the north. So a bus might spend as much time getting to the actual station as it would in the HOV lanes to Lynnwood. In other words, it might just be a wash.

        The buses that go to Paine Field (or surrounding areas) go there infrequently. Likewise the buses that stop off at Everett on the way to Seattle (e. g. 424 and the 425).

        The only substantial savings that are possible are if you cut the 510/512 and replace it with infrequent trains. But you still have to serve South Everett, which represents a good chunk of your ridership. So the only way I see substantial service savings is you run the trains very rarely and force everyone to transfer. In other words, the only way you save service money is if you reduce service. Great.

    2. Remember, the status quo before Swift service was basically hourly service all-day, 30-minute service during rush hour. Compared to that, 12-minute service is a huge improvement.

      A frequent Swift route connecting Edmonds to the Lynnwood light rail station would do wonders in making the area more accessible. Unlike the green line, the orange line would actually connect to the light rail system, feeding into Seattle, rather than being mostly a stand-alone entity.

      1. Swift debuted with 10-minute frequency, but was reduced in the 2012 cuts. Before that, route 101 ran every 15 minutes all day. There’s been a handful of routes with 20-minute frequency for a while, but none came close to the 99 corridor.

        I think the 116 is likely to be replaced by the Orange Line, since it serves all the major destinations on the relatively straight line: Downtown Edmonds, Edmonds Community College, Lynnwood TC, Alderwood, Ash Way, and Mill Creek. 130 is a circular mess of a route.

      2. This is a response to Glenn in Portland… I live along the 130, and let me tell you, there’s a world of difference between a route every 30 minutes and one every 12. In my case, in fact, it’s worth the entire cost of a car. If only it was that frequency, I’d sell my old junker in a heartbeat :/

      3. Look closely at the schedule. The only route 130 runs every 30 minutes outside of commute hours is the midday hours during the week when everybody is at work. Saturdays, Sundays, and evenings, it’s once an hour, with the last bus leaving Lynnwood TC as early as 9:15 PM.

    3. “Transfers are likely a big part of Swift service, since Swift doesn’t go the entire Aurora corridor”

      Long Swift+E trips will become less popular in the Lynnwood Link era. People do it now because the I-5 buses get caught in horrendous traffic when they’re most used, drop to half-hourly in the off hours, and have no Aurora-accessible stop between Mountlake Terrace and 45th. So people take E+Swift from 85th to Lynnwood or 185th to 45th to avoid them. But with Link+feeders the threshold for going east to Link and then back west shrinks significantly. From Snohomish County Swift will have a one-seat fast ride to 185th Station, and Link Lynnwood there will be twice as frequent as it is now. That will attract people going to places around 45th, and maybe even 85th and 105th, especially peak hours when Aurora is congested and the E is packed. And many trips don’t both start and end on 99; often that’s just one end of the trip and the other end is somewhere east or west of it. A combination with Link will often be more direct anyway. So people will transfer more but it will be more general transfers north-south-east-west, not just along 99. So making Swift more frequent will always help, but interlining Swift with the E would have only limited benefit.

      1. I really doubt that anyone is doing as you suggest (using a bus combination that involves Aurora as a means to avoid I-5). It takes a while to get over and back, and you are talking about several buses. Besides, as fast as Swift is, it is all relative. Compared to surrounding traffic it is fast, but even with low dwell times, the average speed is still slower than a creeping bus on the freeway. 15 MPH seems really slow on the freeway, but it is much faster than most buses.

        Meanwhile, not everyone in Snohomish County is headed to downtown Seattle. What if you are just going from, say, Bitter Lake up to 228th SW? You could work your way over to Link, but it really isn’t worth it. It would be a three seat ride (not two) at a minimum, and will likely take longer to get there and back. It is also quite possible that your last stop will be via Swift anyway, depending on how the buses are setup. Unless you break from the grid (which for Snohomish County means very bad headways) the buses will cross 99 and keep going.

      2. “I really doubt that anyone is doing as you suggest (using a bus combination that involves Aurora as a means to avoid I-5).”

        Look again. Half-hourly 512. No stops between MT and 45th except at bus-inaccessible 145th. Those are trips where people can’t take an I-5 bus, or would have to sometimes wait a long time for it. “Avoid” may not be the best term for this but the result is the same: they take Swift+E and wish there were a better alternative. I have taken many trips over the years like those I’ve described (mostly to a church in Lynnwood, Sky Nursery, etc). I only do it occasionally because I don’t live in the corridor, and I don’t have experience living in Snohomish County, but I can see the kinds of trips I and others would take if I lived near there.

        “What if you are just going from, say, Bitter Lake up to 228th SW?”

        You’re cherry-picking again. Of course there are trips below the worthwhileness threshold, but there are also trips above it. And each person has a different threshold, and they may feel differently on different days. And it partly depends on how fast/frequent the feeders are. They may be better than our expectations or they may be as bad as the current service.

      3. It’s not cherry picking. It is where most of the riders are coming from. It is just as legitimate a transit trip as the one you describe (although to be honest I’m not even sure what you are describing). Put it this way, if I want to go from the north end of King County to the South end of Snohomish County on the biggest commercial and residential corridor in the area, then I have to take the two buses (the two most popular buses in each county).

        But like I said, exactly what trip are you describing (from where to where)? It sounds horrible, which suggests that basically no one is taking it (they drive or get someone else to drive them). I think it is reasonable to suggest that Link will open up combinations that weren’t used much before. It is another thing to suggest that large numbers of people were putting up with that trip before.

      4. When I lived in the U-District I attended a church in north Lynnwood. the 512 didn’t exist then so I took the 48 to 85th and the Aurora bus and CT bus. Later I went to the ice arena on 185th. Later I moved to Ballard and went to Sky Nursery at 190th. I’ve had various jobs in north Seattle near Market Street, 65th, and 110th and every one had coworkers from Edmonds, Lynnwood, and/or Everett. If I lived in Lynnwood or Edmonds I’m not sure exactly how much I’d go to Seattle vs staying up there, but when I did go to Seattle it would most likely be around Market Street, 85th, 100th, 130th, or Shoreline. Of these, only Shoreline and 130th are so short it might not be worth going east to Link. Swift will probably have a station around 185-192nd & Aurora and then run nonstop to 185th Station, so if I’m already on Swift southbound it’ll just a quick minute longer to Link, so why not?

      5. >> Of these, only Shoreline and 130th are so short it might not be worth going east to Link.

        That’s my point. The bulk of people who come from King County and ride Swift are starting way to the north. Everyone else is driving or they are lucky enough to have a bus combination that works really well for them. Here are your examples, with Google recommended bus rides:

        1) U-District to Lynnwood — Take the 512 (as you mentioned).
        2) U-District to Highland Ice Arena (180th and Aurora) — Take the 312.
        3) 15th and Market to Sky Nursery (190nd and Aurora) — Take the 44, then the E.

        None of those trips involve Swift. Only one (the third) involves the E.

        Your other examples didn’t say which part of Edmonds, Lynnwood and Everett. But take the stop on 99 closest to Edmonds CC. So SR 99 and 204th.

        4) 15th and Market to Edmonds — 44 to 512 to 115.
        5) 15th and 85th to Edmonds — 45, E, 101 (hour)
        6) 105th and Aurora to Edmonds — E to 101 (42 minutes)
        7) 130th and Aurora to Edmonds — E to 101 (36 minutes)

        A few things jump out at me. First, Swift doesn’t run that often. It is often faster to take the 101 which essentially does the same thing (for that section). The buses aren’t coordinated, so this is random. A Swift variation that cut over from 185th and then went to Mariner might be justified if you could somehow synchronize the timing. That could mean 6 minute frequency along Aurora, with 12 minute service on the new bus as well (the 101 runs every 30 minutes, so this would be a huge upgrade).

        Anyway, if you are way down by Market, then it makes sense to go around right now (avoid the E and Swift). For the other trips you just head north. For trip #5, it takes forever for a relatively short drive. My guess is that people just drive that. Link will provide a faster alternative, but it still be a long trip. You really have to look at each corridor. The final leg (from Lynnwood over to Aurora) isn’t that bad. It takes 12 minutes in the middle of the day (according to Google).

        The other corridors vary greatly. 85th and 15th to the Roosevelt 65th station is not that fast — over 20 minutes in the middle of the day. Add another 16 minutes on Link and the trip back and you have 48 minutes not counting transfer time. On average, if both of those buses run every 10 minutes, you save a couple minutes by using Link.

        To get to the Northgate station is it similar. Having to go out and around takes a while (about 15 minutes). Northgate to Lynnwood is 13 minutes, so 38 minutes not counting the transfer. My guess is making the transfer isn’t worth it most of the time (since it would have to take less than 4 minutes).

        Once you get up to 130th the east-west corridors become really fast. However, this is precisely the area where (as you say) it isn’t worth making two transfers.

        These are right by the east-west corridors, too. If you are at 130th and Aurora, then it might be worth it to head east, then take Link, then take the bus back west (if you can time it just right). But not if you are at 135th (or 140th, 155th, 160th, etc.).

        Here are my points: First, very few people are traveling long distances on the E and then taking Swift. Either they are driving or taking a different bus combination. Second, even when Link gets here, for that small group of people, taking Link won’t be a huge improvement. Third, plenty of people are taking the E for a short distance and then transferring to Swift; Link won’t change that. In short, Link won’t reduce the demand (or the transfers) on Swift.

        If Swift extends much further south, then this becomes less of an issue. If it went to 185th (like you suggest) then Swift picks up the folks between the county line and 185th that now have to transfer. Assuming the E still goes to where it ends now, the overlap would reduce a lot of the transfers. Not entirely, but a lot of them. Of course then you could justify increased frequency because you have transfers from Link. So unless you simply extended Swift really far down Aurora (made that overlap with E much bigger) you are still going to have a lot of people who want to transfer to Swift.

      6. “very few people are traveling long distances on the E and then taking Swift.”

        But those are the trips that would be advantaged by combining Swift and the E into one route, which was the original issue. My contention is that would have only a minor benefit, mostly for short-distance trips that span the county border. For longer-distance trips, either they’re within one route so the transfer doesn’t impact them, or they’re approaching the distance where going east to Link makes sense. And with Swift going right to 185th Station, that makes it all the more easier.

    4. Ross, as someone who has used Swift to run multiple errands and appointments in a day, the difference between 6 and 10 minute headways wouldn’treally change whether I did that or not. And it has not bothered me when spontaneously heading two stops down to go to lunch.

      For a couple of minutes average waiting time difference, it just isn’t that big a deal. One reason is that I would rather see the hours go to other places where it is needed more. The other is that I understand that I live in Edmonds and not Capitol Hill. Ten minutes is just great.

      1. Interesting. I guess when you’ve had it bad, you lower your expectations. It is funny because no one has a magic formula as to when you reach that “tipping point” of spontaneous trips and painless transfers. Every person views things differently. While searching the subject, I found this comment by someone in Toronto: http://humantransit.org/2011/12/how-frequent-is-freedom.html#comment-71274. Running empty trains is preferred over 8-10 minute headways. Empty Trains! We are talking about big, expensive trains, but folks are willing to pay the price — or should I say demand the service. I can’t help but think that is simply a matter of getting used to what you are used to. Unlike a switch from 3 minutes to 2 minutes, a switch from 10 to 6 is significantly better, but some folks are OK with the cheaper service because (as people on here have pointed out) it is much better than most of the system and better than the way things used to be.

        Interestingly enough, the National Bus Rapid Transit Institute looked at a bunch of systems and made a distinction between those that ran every five minutes and those that ran less often — https://nbrti.org/docs/ppt/Broward%20County%20BRT%20Workshop/BusRapidTransit_Applications_Phase2_Report_Presentation.pdf

      2. Everyone in the suburbs has it bad. When I grew up in Bellevue the buses were hourly, and when I first visited a friend on Queen Anne and the 2 came every 20-30 minutes, it was wonderful and I couldn’t wait to move to Seattle where most buses were 30 minutes. Now in Snohomish County, a few CT routes are 15 minutes daytime but most are 30 minutes daytime, 60 minutes evenings/weekends. So increasing a route to 15 minutes or 12 minutes feels like a good thing. And you can tell from the undensity that it’s not going to come every 6 minutes anytime soon.

        Empty trains aren’t that big of a deal; it’s just a fixed overhead cost like park maintenance, residential-street maintenance, 911 service, etc. People may not use it every day but they want to have it available when they need it. 10 minutes minimum is freedom as Jarret says. There’s nothing wrong with building capacity for peak hours and maybe it’s underused in the evening. If Lynnwood or Everett prove to have so little ridership that ST cuts them back to 15 or 30 minutes, that’s not ideal but it’s not the end of the world. It doesn’t make the extensions unjustified because they’re still very useful peak hours when they matter most and midday.

      3. >> Empty trains aren’t that big of a deal

        What? Since when? Of course they are a big deal. Holy smoke, Toronto — Toronto, which has residential skyscrapers! — wanted to cut down the frequency of the trains to save money. Running trains is very expensive. Running empty trains is really, really, expensive.

        But sure, if we want to pay for it, then we’ll pay for it. But holy smoke, we have way better things to pay for. Everyone on here says that the “suburbs have it bad”. That being the case, why are we talking about spending billions on a rail line from Lynnwood to Everett? Shouldn’t we spend the money (a lot less money) on giving the Snohomish County half way decent transit?

  2. The biggest problem with the green line there is no to transfer to the 512. For some bizarre reason, the 512 doesn’t stop at the mccollum park park and ride and the mariner park and ride. Yet it does stop at the south everett freeway station… Why….

    ST has the peak only buses through mariner and mccolum, but the all day bus at the weird and difficult to access south everett freeway station, which as zero transfers to local buses, and limited pedestrian/bicycle access. (seriously, look at it on google maps)

    ST and Community Transit need to coordinate to have better transfers. The only ones right now are infrequent and have poor hours. (run every 30 minutes, and cut off at 10pm, while the 512 runs until midnight).

    1. Mariner is not on the 512 because it had to serve S Everett, in the median. If the proposed access ramps at Mariner and Ash Way were built, things would’ve been much simpler.

      The Ash Way-Mariner trip is one of the most frequent non-Swift corridors, with the 201/202 and 109. It’s not that bad of a transfer if you’re willing to make it three seats.

    2. Probably because the Mariner and McCollum P&R’s don’t have direct access ramps like the South Everett P&R does.

      I live in the Silver Lake neighborhood. While McCollum Park is closer to me the South Everett P&R is not much further so the 512 works out just fine for me.

    3. The 512 is slow enough as it is, and a stop at 128th St. would add several more minutes.

      I do believe CT made a mistake in route the green line across I-5 at 128th St., rather than 112th St., where it could connect to the 512 at South Everett Freeway Station. But, if ST 3 passes, the green line will eventually connect with Link, so that’s something.

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