Community Transit honors Seahawks with ‘Blue’ and ‘Green’ names

EVERETT — It’s hard to miss the far-flung influence of what may be the Puget Sound region’s most zealous Sunday faith, the church of the Seahawks. Just look around any pregame Friday, when its parishioners don team regalia. It even shows up in public transit.

In a nod to the Seahawks, Community Transit named the two fast bus lines serving Snohomish County after the team’s colors: the Swift Blue Line and the Swift Green Line.

Representatives Suzan DelBene and Rick Larsen joined Community Transit officials Friday in unveiling the newly named lines. Blue and green plastic footballs were handed out bearing the bus lines’ names.

The team and the public transit agency both turn 40 this year, Community Transit chief executive Emmett Heath said. “In August 1976, the Seahawks were playing their first ever game — Jim Zorn throwing passes to Steve Largent and Steve Raible in the Kingdome. And two months later, Community Transit put our first buses on the road.”

In 2009, the agency opened the first Swift line, which runs along Highway 99 between Shoreline and Everett. It is now the Swift Blue Line. It served 1.6 million riders in 2015, averaging 5,700 riders per weekday.

Last year, Snohomish County voters narrowly approved a ballot proposition to raise taxes to pay for a second Swift line connecting Canyon Park in Bothell to Paine Field, two economic hubs. It now is the Swift Green Line.

Both lines are what is called bus rapid transit: An approach that aims to combine the speed of rail travel with the lower cost of bus transit.

“From the day we began planning the first Swift line, we envisioned a network of Swift routes throughout Snohomish County,” Heath said. “Today, we’re giving the first two lines a fresh identity and moving toward making the Swift network a reality.”

Design work is 60 percent finished.

Construction on the Green line is slated to start in summer 2017. The 12.5-mile line will stretch from a terminal near Boeing’s Everett plant to a park-and-ride in Bothell, with 17 stops. Community Transit expects 3,300 riders to use the line every weekday.

It is expected to cost about $73 million. The state has committed $17 million. Federal support is expected to total as much as $54 million.

On Friday, Larsen announced that a $5 million federal grant has been awarded to help pay operational costs during the line’s first two years.

The line is expected to begin running in early 2019, a bit later than originally planned.

“Probably the biggest reason for the shift from 2018 to 2019 is the new lanes we are building adjacent to the I-5 overpass at 128th Street in south Everett,” said Martin Munguia, a spokesman for Community Transit.

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