With Snohomish County well into Phase 2 of its pandemic recovery, Community Transit is set to begin restoring its bus service over the next few months. On July 6, CT will bring service levels back to 75% of pre-pandemic trips to accommodate an increased need on heavily-used routes. A 85% restoration will take place in September, followed by a potential full restoration by spring 2021.
Community Transit will also begin collecting fares on all routes on July 1. Drivers will wear face coverings and will be able to wear face shields when passengers are boarding from the front door. The agency is encouraging riders to wear face coverings, but not making them required.
Transit ridership in Snohomish County began to increase in May and is expected to return to high levels as more employers reopen. Retailers have been permitted to reopen for in-store shopping and most national chains have followed suit for their locations in the county.
Community Transit is anticipating a sales tax decline of 16 to 26 percent ($25 million to $40 million) as a result of the COVID-induced economic recession. The September 2020 service expansion, which was slated to have huge boosts for Route 112 and a relocation for Route 109, has been cancelled.
About $300 million in lost funds for 2020 to 2025 would be needed to keep service at pre-pandemic levels, which will largely be filled using the following sources:
- $85.5 million from reserve funds
- $83.4 million from deferred service expansion
- $40.3 million from reducing service to 85% levels
- $39.2 million from the CARES Act
- $33.4 million from capital/operations savings
There is a $26.6 million gap that remains, which would be addressed using other methods. At a recent board meeting, Community Transit staff presented options to cut costs, such as reviewing capital projects for deferment, but took no action.
On top of all of this, the Mountlake Terrace Freeway Station will be closed for six months beginning July 6 due to Link construction. The express routes serving the freeway platforms will not be redirected to the transit center, with a fare-free replacement shuttle offered instead. Route 508 will leave from bus bay 3 and run 7 days a week, with a peak frequency of 7 minutes and mid-day and weekend service capped at hourly levels.