Bus routes on chopping block

  • Tue Feb 14th, 2012 6:53pm

By Katie Murdoch Herald writer

Declining sales tax revenues have forced Community Transit officials to cut service by 20 percent.

As of Feb. 20, riders can expect to see their routes changed or eliminated, including routes running through South County.

Bus service will scale back by 80,000 service hours and 103 agency employees will be laid off. Including this recent round of layoffs, Community Transit has laid off 206 employees, 29 percent of its workforce, since 2010.

New service hours will saturate major corridors and peak travel times.

There will be fewer trips to downtown Seattle, fewer trips to rural areas and bus service will end two hours earlier, between 10 and 11 p.m. Additionally, the Snohomish County network will be reconfigured and nine routes will be eliminated and two will be added.

Eliminated routes include 131 between Edmonds Station and Edmonds Community College and 190, which will eliminate service on 176th Street, 64th Avenue and 68th Avenue in Lynnwood.

“Passengers are going to have to plan their schedule accordingly,” said Tom Pearce, a Community Transit spokesman.

Lynnwood resident Mark Williamson is one of those riders hit by the cuts.

The cuts baffle Williamson, who said he’s dumbfounded Community Transit would eliminate routes to shopping centers where sales tax revenues are generated that in turn feed their bottom line.

“If you’re hurting for money, why are you taking it out of your pocket?” he said.

Williamson has a physical disability similar to Parkinson’s disease. He chose his apartment because a Community Transit stop was in front of his home. The changes mean he will also lose three daily routes.

Ridership on Community Transit buses was at 9.7 million last year, compared with 9.6 million in 2010. Sales tax revenues were at $62.7 million in 2011, down from $62.5 million the year before.

Bills circulating through the state Legislature could offer a life ring to transit agencies with funding. However, none of these bills guarantee funding for transit service.

Is my route affected?

Find out how your bus route and others are affected by the cuts at www.communitytransit.org. Call Community Transit at 425-353-7433 or 800-562-1375 for bus information, or 888-814-1300 for carpool or vanpool information.