How tolerable is the transfer between Community Transit’s Swift Green and Blue lines? Not too bad for this rider. (Lizz Giordano / The Herald)

How tolerable is the transfer between Community Transit’s Swift Green and Blue lines? Not too bad for this rider. (Lizz Giordano / The Herald)

Calculating the commute: Getting to Paine Field by bus

From The Daily Herald’s office in Everett it took me 45 minutes using Community Transit’s Swift lines.

EVERETT — Now with 24 passenger flights leaving Paine Field each day, Snohomish County residents may no longer need to trek down to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and battle the traffic that circles the area.

Though, not all are finding the launch of commercial passenger service at Paine Field more advantageous than “Everett’s other airport (i.e. Sea-Tac).

For at least one reader — who had more of a comment than a question — Paine Field was less accessible by transit for him than traveling more than twice the distance to Sea-Tac.

“They put this airport in, it should be convenient to get to,” Frank Kniest said. “Instead it is more of a hassle.”

After years of flying out of Sea-Tac, the downtown Edmonds resident has his routine down for getting there. He chooses a midday flight so he can take the Sounder Train, which is a 15-minute walk from his house, then catches the light rail at the International District/Chinatown Station for the last leg of his trip. Kniest’s two-seat ride — transit-speak for having to transfer once — takes him about one and a half hours.

However, this route is dependent on timing his flight just right and having no delays because the Sounder only runs southbound into Seattle in the morning and northbound in the evening. He does have a bus option to get him to the light rail at other times, but that route can take longer.

His ride to Paine Field is a consistent 1 hour and 5 minutes all day long, according to Community Transit’s trip planner. At first Kniest, thought the trip would take five buses, but we were able to find a way with fewer transfers. That three-seat ride — route 130 to the Swift Blue Line to the Swift Green — although more palatable, still wasn’t what Kniest wanted.

“I should be able to get on a bus in downtown Edmonds and get to Paine Field,” he said.

Everyone would love a bus from their house to right where they want to go, said Martin Munguia, a spokesperson for Community Transit.

“Community Transit serves 19 communities, so we can’t always offer that kind of convenience,” he said.

Before the 2007 recession, the agency had routes that meandered through neighbors so people only had to walk a few blocks to catch a bus.

“But that was slow service and more expensive,” Munguia said.

The agency is instead focusing on frequency with the two Swift lines. And as the system continues to be built out, Community Transit wants to add more trips to other routes to cut down on the wait time.

A rider might have to walk farther, but they could have a quicker ride, Munguia said.

To test Swift buses’ frequency I’ve taken two rides from The Daily Herald office along the bus rapid transit lines — one to Paine Field, the other to Canyon Park.

My first trip I headed to Paine Field. I waited about six minutes at the 41st Street and Rucker Avenue station for a Swift Blue bus. At Airport Road, I transferred to the Swift Green line, where I probably spent more time crossing the multi-lane road than waiting for the next bus. Two stops later and a 15-minute walk I was at the Paine Field. Total travel time: 45 minutes.

The second journey, I wanted to put Swift buses to the test during rush hour traffic, so I traveled all the way to Canyon Park from Everett in the late afternoon, early evening. Between the two buses and the 15 stops, I arrived there in about 1 hour 20 minutes. The longest wait I had between buses, nine minutes, was at the end of the line at the Canyon Park Park and Ride. As I waited for my last ride, which would drop me back at the office, I did notice another Swift bus was not far behind. This made me wonder if the gap behind that bus and the next was longer than the promised 10 minutes.

If the frequency, at least as I experienced, stays consistent, transferring might become more tolerable and less of a hassle.

Got a question? Email me at streetsmarts@heraldnet.com or call 425-374-4165. Please include your name and city of residence.

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