Everett Transit has released its Draft Long-Range Plan, which proposes a huge increase in frequent service by 2040 to feed into Link and Swift. Earlier network concepts were refined down to two ideas: coverage or frequency, and the latter won out in the minds of Everett’s planners. During peak hours, a handful of routes would have frequencies of up to 15-20 minutes, including corridors that have poor service today or don’t exist yet. Feedback is being accepted until March 30 via an online survey and a final plan is planned to be adopted in April.
Today, Everett Transit only has one route with service that can be described as frequent: Route 7, which runs down Evergreen Way and Broadway between Everett Mall and Everett Community College. Other routes have frequencies of 45 to 60 minutes, and a handful in South Everett run in one-way loops that limit their usefulness. Two routes leave Everett proper and continue on to Mukilteo, the all-day Route 18 on Mukilteo Boulevard and peak-only Route 70 from the Boeing plant.
The proposed network would require a 25 percent increase in annual service hours and an additional 6-8 buses over Everett’s current fleet of 42. The result would be a 20 percent increase in seated capacity during peak periods and a projected increase of 17,000 daily riders. Some short segments on existing routes would be left without bus service, including the Colby Avenue corridor in North Everett, the Lowell neighborhood, and most service on Mukilteo Boulevard, to simplify routes and focus service on “activity centers” where current and future growth would lead to higher ridership. Notably, a new route between the waterfront and naval base area to the new “Riverfront” neighborhood would be given frequent service, replacing a peak-only route to the naval base and a gap in service for the Riverfront. A decade ago, this corridor was floated as a potential streetcar corridor for the ST2 program and was expected to connect two dense developments, but both have been scaled back to single-family homes on small lots.
To pay for the service upgrade, Everett Transit is considering using up the remaining 0.3 percent of its sales tax authority or seeking private partnerships and alternative funding. The draft plan projects operating costs will exceed revenues as early as 2022, but a more recent look from the city government predicts a $1.6 million shortfall in 2020, blamed on the struggles of Everett’s retailers and the subsequent drop in sales tax revenue. The third option, a fare increase beyond the current base fare of $1.00, would mostly be used for technology upgrades related to the ORCA Next Generation project, so it can’t be counted on to save the agency. In the next few years, Everett Transit may have to cut and restructure its services, but it should manage to survive long enough to begin implementing the long-range plan’s frequent network.