Community Transit has long discussed its plans to radically restructure its commuter and local bus networks in anticipation of Lynnwood Link, and its first concepts were presented to the Snohomish County Council this week. First noticed last month by The Urbanist, the agency briefed the County Council on its preliminary plans for its 600,000 annual service hours, including a portion saved from avoiding the long slog on Interstate 5 south of the county line.
By and large, the commuter network would be truncated to Lynnwood City Center and Mountlake Terrace stations, which will both include large bus transfer areas. At Lynnwood City Center (today’s Lynnwood TC), Community Transit anticipates that commuter and local buses will arrive and depart from one of its bays every 35 seconds during peak periods, traveling out to Interstate 5 via its direct HOV ramp or onto nearby streets. The station will have 20 layover spaces for double-decker buses that will be held to meet Link trains as they arrive at the station.
Mountlake Terrace’s current freeway station in the median of I-5 will see less extensive use, with on-street bays under the Link platform preferred for the shortened commuter buses in the area. The current frequent bus service concept shows a route from Edmonds Station to Mountlake Terrace that will use State Route 104 and take advantage of the basketweave ramp at 236th Street Southwest (which allows for direct connections to the bus bays).
Community Transit reports that PM trips from Downtown Seattle to Lynnwood are scheduled at 30 to 45 minutes, but the actual travel times can vary between 22 and 86 minutes depending on traffic. The agency currently has just under 450,000 annual bus service hours and anticipates that the time savings from truncating routes will lead to a net gain of 150,000 hours after Link opens in 2024.
The backbone of the new, post-Link network will be two of three planned Swift lines: the existing Blue Line, which will be extended to meet Link at Shoreline North/NE 185th Station; and the new Orange Line, which will intersect Link at Lynnwood Transit Center and continue west to Edmonds Community College and east to Mill Creek. The Orange Line will replicate the core section of Route 115, which overlaps with Route 116 between Edmonds CC and Mill Creek, continuing north to interline with the Green Line until it reaches McCollum Park P&R.
The Orange Line is near the end of its first development phase, with environmental and public outreach expected to kick into high gear soon. The fourth Swift line, tentatively the Red Line scheduled to open in 2027, would connect Everett Station to Marysville and Smokey Point on one of the highest-ridership linear corridors in the county.
In the service concept that was presented to a county council committee last month, Community Transit envisions upgrading much of the local route grid in Southwest Snohomish County to 10-15 minute frequencies, including new service along Filbert Road (State Route 524) towards the fast-growing North Creek area that would be a precursor to a long-term Swift line. The gap left in the Orange Line between Edmonds CC and Downtown Edmonds would be filled by a high-frequency route and more frequent service on existing routes on 196th Street Southwest.
The redesigned commuter route network could also see some level of bi-directional service to fill deadhead trips with commuters from King County traveling to job sites in Snohomish County. While it’s far less popular and common, the addition of 25,000 industrial jobs to new centers in Everett and Smokey Point are anticipated to bring more demand for the reverse commute, according to CT. The agency is also looking at alternative last-mile solutions to prevent the park-and-rides at Link stations from being filled with people driving less than 2 miles from their home to the stations.
Together with Sound Transit’s early plans for the future Stride BRT on I-405 and ST Express routes that would feed Link from Everett, the express network in Snohomish County would look largely the same but see a large improvement in reliability and potential frequency. As future concepts are developed and released, there will be further changes and refinements to add needed corridors. In particular, the 2024 restructure will also be an opportunity to bring basic, 30-minute service to areas that are currently underserved, like North Creek, Brier, parts of Southwest Everett, and northeastern Mill Creek.