Avgeekjoe Photo: The North End of Paine Field, Circa May 2013…
Recently decided to interview the Mayor of Everett’s Office on Paine Field transit issues to see where Mayor Ray Stephanson and his administration stood after my previous STB Page 2 writings on Paine Field too (1st post here, 2nd post here, and 3rd post here). Special thanks goes out to his spokeswoman Meghan Pembroke who was very professionally helpful and as per her LinkedIn has a wealth of transportation-related experience in WSDOT communications. Transit advocates need people like Mrs. Pembroke right whether they are as we kick-off the campaign for ST3 and possibly a state transportation package to get some help to our counties’ transit agencies.
Intro and public vote of confidence given, an abridgement of my questions are in bold, the responses are in italics with some clarification afterward.
#1. Recently The Everett Herald did a news story mentioning you are a booster of light rail long-term for Paine Field. Do you see light rail service as a long-term strategy to keep Boeing jobs here in Washington State?
Mayor Stephanson and the City of Everett have been long-time supporters of and advocates for the aerospace industry. We believe light rail is a critical long-term strategy to support Boeing and our entire aerospace and advanced manufacturing hub in southwest Everett. The City has met with Sound Transit’s planning staff and consistently urged them to route the future light-rail alignment through Paine Field, the state’s largest manufacturing center. We’ve also urged them to extend the alignment to north Everett to serve the college district and regional medical center.
#2. In your advocacy for a Sound Transit light rail route to service Paine Field, would you be willing to advocate for an interim Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service to link up with Community Transit’s Swift? Perhaps as part of Sound Transit 3/ST3?
While we believe the ultimate solution is light rail, the City has also been supportive of plans for Bus Rapid Transit to this area in the interim. There are currently plans underway for a Bus Rapid Transit line from Canyon Park to a new Seaway Transit Center, via SR 527 and Airport Road. When such service is available, Everett Transit plans to realign routes and redistribute some of the service to create an improved network of transportation systems.
This is generally understood to be Swift II, a Community Transit project building on the success of the original Community Transit Swift Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). Current State Senate Candidate Marko Liias has been championing this as well…
#3. … For the three routes serving Boeing Everett Transit averaged around 12.5% of all of Everett Transit’s boardings and while Everett Transit boardings went down overall 12%, boardings on the three Everett Transit routes to Boeing only went down 4%. Would you please support requesting Everett Transit to make a plan to increase boardings such as marketing currently existing service, soliciting public input to improve currently existing service, and serving more tenants of Paine Field such as the Future of Flight and Flying Heritage Collection to help justify light rail service serving Paine Field?
You asked about Everett Transit service and plans to increase boardings. The routes that experience growth even when overall ridership decreases are those that target the commuter market (in our case Route 70 that provides peak-hour connections from the Mukilteo Ferry to Boeing). Route 3 between Everett Station and Boeing has a strong commuter market as well, but it also serves W Casino Rd, where there is a high population density and high demand for transit service.
As part of the Commute Trip Reduction program that Everett Transit administers for employers in Everett, the agency’s efforts in marketing transit have been very high. We work with Boeing’s Commute Trip Reduction group to educate employees on transportation options and provide incentives for ridesharing. Though marketing efforts in terms of media campaigns or targeted advertising are limited due to budget constraints, this year we have worked very hard to improve overall customer experience (detailing buses, upgrading bus stop signs) and educating riders on our services available (such as real-time information for all stops). These improvements, allowing for a more pleasant ride and easier access to schedules, are also meant to attract first-time riders and visitors.
#4. …As the Mayor’s Office of Everett is a proud “Paine Field, the Field of Choice” booster will you please consider speaking out in support of direct transit service (i.e. a bus stop) in the immediate future with long-term improvements to the Future of Flight with over 250,000 annual visitors and Paul G. Allen’s Flying Heritage Collection?
The level of service that we are able to provide to the area you reference is limited by budget constraints. We made a 15 percent cut in service in 2012, and we have maintained our level of service since then. Any additions to service would be balanced with the existing demand to increase frequency to routes that are close to capacity, and would also take into consideration the physical environmental constraints to the areas that we would serve (for example, accessibility of routes to both the Future of Flight and Flying Heritage Collection mentioned would require structural improvements, without which we would not be able to provide safe and efficient bus service).
I’ve added emphasis because on follow-up as Mrs. Pembroke politely got us an explanation before deadline:
The structural improvements are the physical structures that allow our buses to serve the facility: a turn-around area or a safe bus route around the building that would allow a bus to drive through, designated bus load/unload zones, bus zone amenities such as shelters/benches, and if those zones are not immediately adjacent to the building, a safe walking path to the building.
Typically, in the case of new developments, the builder will be guided to provide those structures and amenities to facilitate transit access through the land-use application process. It is generally a collaborative effort between the builder and the transit agency that is the primary provider of service in the area affected, with direction from city or county planners.
Both of these sites are in Community Transit’s service area, so Community Transit would be the agency to coordinate those improvements with the owners of these particular sites.
For Everett Transit, the evaluation of the infrastructure of the site along with the area that it covers in terms of jurisdiction, are the first steps in the consideration to provide service. The next steps are evaluating the demand for service and the resources available to fulfill that demand.
So as to be fair to Everett City Government, I will leave my views on where to go from here for another post… and invite your non-spam comments please.
Upcoming Avgeekjoe Page Two Posts:
Tomorrow evening at 2100 Hours/9 PM, I will post my personal endorsement list. Expect quite a few Democrats from the token Republican of STB. It doesn’t help my fellow Republicans to ignore me…
So as not to over saturate Page Two, the Island Transit minutiae update will be scheduled for Monday evening. We also will get some clips from Island County Commissioners and “The Man of the Moment” Scott Studley into the post.