A new station is opening at Madison Street on northbound Evergreen Way. Three more stations in Everett are under construction, scheduled to open early in 2011. The four stops altogether are pegged at $2 million.
Before today, the system had 12 stops each way along 17 miles of Pacific and Rucker avenues, on Evergreen Way, and on Highway 99 between Everett and Shoreline.
With fewer stops than conventional bus routes, Swift bus service started a little more than a year ago to give riders a speedier alternative. The new stops, previously unfunded, are filling in gaps in the system.
Swift buses cut the travel times for the entire 17 miles by up to 45 minutes from conventional routes, from as long as an hour-and-a-half down to 40 to 55 minutes, according to Community Transit.
It gets you back and forth a lot faster than local routes, said Schuyler Thorpe of south Everett, waiting for a Swift bus at Pacific and Wetmore avenues.
On weekdays, Swift buses run every 10 minutes from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m., then every 20 minutes from 7 p.m. to midnight. On Saturdays, the route runs every 20 minutes, from 6 a.m. to midnight.
Some riders, though, have said it doesnt work for them because the stops are too far apart.
Bus rapid transit is in service in several other states. Swift was the first in Washington.
The entire system to date has cost about $34 million, with a little less then half covered by state and federal grants.
The new stops were planned as part of the original system, but werent funded. Everett Transit, as part of an agreement with Community Transit, is paying for all the stops inside the city limits.
Everett Transit recently received a $1.6 million state grant for the new stops and is covering the other $400,000 from its own funds. Altogether, the city transit agency has put $4.8 million of its own money into the program.
In return, city bus riders have more choices, Everett Transit director Tom Hingson said.
Its a new line of service that provides people an option for faster service through the city, he said.
The new stations are filling gaps in the system. The Madison Station is located about a mile from the nearest stop to the south, near Casino Road, and another mile from the next one to the north, at 50th Street SE. The other planned new stations are on southbound Evergreen Way at Pecks Drive and on each side of Highway 99 at 112th Street SW.
The extra stops are expected to add very little to travel times for riders who get on and off elsewhere, Community Transit spokesman Tom Pearce said.
The bus only stops for 10 seconds at these stations, he said.
Swift station platforms are made for fast boarding. Riders pre-pay and the buses dont have steps bicyclists and wheelchair users can roll straight on and off.
Clark Lien of Everett welcomes the new stations. He frequently rides the buses between downtown and south Everett for shopping or errands and the new stops will come in handy, he said.
Its kind of become one of my favorite modes of transportation, he said.
Bill Sheets: 425-339-3439; firstname.lastname@example.org.
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