Community Transit has released a draft version of their 2017–2022 Transit Development Plan (TDP), which will guide the expansion of bus service across Snohomish County in the lead-up to Lynnwood Link’s opening in 2023. The 0.3 percent sales tax increase approved by voters in 2015 has now been funding expanded service for a full year, and will enable CT to spend an additional $30 million annually for new service and capital improvements. In total, Community Transit will use $1 billion in sales tax revenue and grants from state and federal sources to fund service improvements and capital projects.
Community Transit anticipates to increase bus service by over 136,000 hours (36 percent over 2016’s 375,000 hours) in a series of expansions, including a major service change for this fall and early next year. Annual ridership is forecast to reach an all-time high of 12 million in 2019, coinciding with an all-time high in bus service hours, and will increase even further to 14 million by 2022. A total of 543 new vehicles will be ordered to expand and replace the CT fleet, including 26 new buses (mostly for the Swift Green Line) and replacing older articulated buses. As part of the expansions, Community Transit will also need to hire more than 100 new drivers over the next six years, as well as 200 workers in “supporting functions”.
The star of the show for Community Transit’s upcoming expansions is the debut of two Swift lines—the Green Line in 2019 and the Orange Line in 2023—that together will bring bus rapid transit service to Mill Creek, Canyon Park, Edmonds, and central Lynnwood. Curiously, Community Transit marks the Orange Line, which is still in preliminary planning, as only reaching Edmonds Community College on its map of Swift lines. When asked via email, CT spokesperson Martin Munguia explained that the map shows a conceptual network and that the agency is “fairly certain” that it will reach as far west as Edmonds Community College, but the project’s currently underway feasibility study will determine whether it can be routed all the way to Downtown Edmonds and the ferry terminal. One small extension of Swift’s existing Blue Line to Shoreline’s NE 185th Street Link station is also planned for 2023, pending a separate feasibility study.
According to Community Transit’s financial forecasts, the 2020–2022 service expansions can use up an additional 15,000 bus hours annually, which haven’t been allocated to specific improvements. Among the basic goals are reliability and capacity improvements for the commuter routes, which will undergo major changes for Lynnwood Link in 2023; additional trips on existing routes to increase frequency; and improving Sunday service with longer hours and increased frequency.
Community Transit is taking public comment on the draft TDP through July 7, 2017. Comments may be made in several ways:
- Emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
- Calling (425) 353-7433 (RIDE)
- Commenting on social media: Facebook.com/communitytransit and @MyCommTrans on Twitter
- Sending written comments to Community Transit, 7100 Hardeson Rd., Everett, WA 98203
- A public hearing at 3 p.m. on Thursday, July 6, before the regular Board of Directors Meeting at Community Transit’s headquarters, 7100 Hardeson Road in Everett (accessible via Everett Transit route 8)