SHORELINE — Thousands of Snohomish County commuters can tell Community Transit how it should connect its Swift Blue Line buses to future light rail in Shoreline.
The transit agency wants input on the “rail on wheels” service extending to the 185th Street station scheduled to open in 2024. Currently, Swift service along Highway 99 between Everett and Shoreline ends at the Aurora Village Transit Center, about two miles northwest of a planned Sound Transit Link stop.
But the station will be on the other side of I-5 and a bit south of where the bus rapid transit route ends now. Extending bus service means southbound riders wouldn’t have to go north to light rail stations in Lynnwood or Mountlake Terrace.
“The expansion of our Swift Blue Line to the 185th Street I-5 station in Shoreline is a key part of Community Transit’s plan to provide connectivity to Link light rail in 2024,” Community Transit Director of Planning and Development Roland Behee said in a press release.
Community Transit offered three choices in its survey, open through Feb. 27, for the line that serves about 5,500 riders a day.
Option A follows Highway 99 then goes east on N. 185th Street. It also could include bus lanes that double as business access and right-turn only lanes.
“Shoreline included this option in their assumptions for the 185th Street Multimodal Corridor Strategy that they conducted last year,” Community Transit bus rapid transit program manager Christopher Silveira said in an email, “whereby they recommended BAT (transit and right turn) lanes in the corridor.”
Option B travels east on N. 200th Street, south on Meridian Avenue and east on 185th Street. This maintains connections at the Aurora transit center, a preference for riders, Silveira said.
Option C heads south on Highway 99, then east on N. 175th Street across I-5, and north on 5th Avenue NE. to the station. It was included as a possible solution to vehicle congestion on 185th, which Shoreline expects to continue to be bad, he said.
Community Transit, formally titled the Snohomish County Public Transportation Benefit Area Corporation, generally serves areas exclusively in the county. But it can extend beyond when it’s in the interest of Snohomish County residents, such as bus service into Seattle, where thousands of people commute to for work.
“We generally don’t provide local service in another transit agency’s service district,” Silveira said. “But we do serve a number of places outside our district because those connections add real value to Snohomish County residents and workers. We always work with Metro or the local agency on those stops.”
This would happen years after Community Transit begins routing its Seattle-bound riders to Northgate instead of farther south into the city. Currently routes 810, 821, 855, 860, 871 and 880 reach the University of Washington campus.
Under a proposal from Sound Transit, the 510, 511, 512 and 513 buses would stop at Northgate in 2021. The 400-series routes would continue directly to Seattle until 2024.
Once the route is selected, Community Transit will begin planning for some additional and altered stops, which are more than just a bench and a sign because Swift riders prepay at the curb.
Correction: An earlier version incorrectly described the Sound Transit bus routes.