Everett Transit, like the rest of the region, is going through growing pains. For years, the city-run department had operated about a dozen routes on a small budget with a small fare to match, and it even withstood the recession with only minor cuts to service.
But times have changed and Everett’s good fortune has run out. The agency is facing a $1.6 million budget shortfall within the next two years, which comes just as a new long-range plan had been approved and celebrated by the city. With the shortfall and a need to simplify some of its unwieldy routes in mind, Everett has proposed a “Sustainable Service” change to take effect in March 2019.
To start, Everett Transit wants to reduce its service hours by 7 percent, restructuring its network to serve high-demand areas within the city with fewer vehicles. By taking advantage of the new Swift Green Line (scheduled to come online at around the same time), the entire Southwest/Paine Field area will see a new network of routes that converge on Seaway Transit Center. The one-way circulators (Routes 2 and 12) that run from the Everett Mall to Paine Field and the Mariner Park and Ride would be straightened into more frequent, bi-directional routes that spend less time looping around neighborhoods.
- Route 2: Service on Airport Road and the western half of 112th Street would be eliminated. Would remain at 45-minute frequencies Monday to Saturday.
- Route 3: Service on Casino Road and around the Boeing Plant would be replaced by Route 12. Would remain at 30-minute peak and 60-minute off-peak frequencies on weekdays, and 45-minute frequencies on weekends.
- Route 4: Service to the Providence Pacific Medical Center and Downtown Everett would be replaced by Route 6. The remainder would continue to be served by 60-minute frequencies all day every day.
- Route 6: A huge service boost, with 60-minute frequencies all day every day and an extension to College Station. This route is also planned to be served by the Proterra electric fleet.
- Route 7: No major changes proposed, save for the elimination of the last trip’s Casino Road deviation.
- Route 8: Service on Merrill Creek Parkway, Hardeson Road, and most of Evergreen Way would be eliminated in favor of serving Cascade High School and the east side of Paine Field (including the soon-to-be-opened passenger terminal). Would run at 40-minute peak and 60-minute off-peak and weekend frequencies.
- Route 12: Service on Airport Road, 100th Street, and Everett Mall Way would be eliminated in favor of a simpler route on Casino Road, running every 30 minutes on weekdays and 50 minutes on weekends. This would leave the Swift Green Line with no “local shadow” (akin to Route 101 on the Blue Line and Route 105 on the Green Line), but stop spacing is fairly small in the area anyway.
- Route 17: This relatively young route would be eliminated entirely, leaving the North Colby corridor without any bus service. Other sections would be replaced by Route 8.
- Route 18: Service would be reduced to peak hours only, running every 30 minutes.
- Route 29: Service deviations to the south side of Silver Lake, Eastmont Park and Ride, and the Valley View neighborhood would all be eliminated in favor of a simpler route, running at increased 40-minute peak and 60-minute off-peak/weekend frequencies.
- Route 70: To be truncated at Seaway Transit Center.
The budget can’t be patched up with service cuts alone, especially given the $1.1 million contribution to ORCA 2.0 that Everett Transit is required to pay within the next few years. Federal grants have helped cover replacement costs for the city’s oldest buses, with a fleet of four new Proterra battery buses rolling out beginning next month, but the agency has little choice but to turn to the farebox for additional relief. Beginning in January 2019 and continuing every six months until July 2020, the fare for adult and youth riders would be raised by 25 cents, ultimately bringing the current $1 adult fare to $2. Senior fares would double to 50 cents, and a low-income fare is planned to be introduced to soften the impact on riders, but Everett Transit would still remain below Community Transit’s $2.50 local fare, which takes effect in October of this year.
The service change is scheduled to take effect in March 2019, should it be approved by the city council. While the normal comment period has run out, Everett Transit is still encouraging public feedback through their normal channels (e-mail and phone). As their finances recover, this network will provide the backbone of the city’s long-term vision of buses ferrying passengers from Link and Swift stations to neighborhood centers all across the city, with particular emphasis on frequent corridors (which are all covered under this plan).