Community Transit is moving forward with improvements to public transportation in Snohomish County, including a plan to add a second rapid-transit bus route from Bothell to Paine Field as soon as 2018.
It also will resume bus service on Sundays and holidays starting on Sunday.
The addition of rapid bus service across a fast-growing area of the county is intended relieve road congestion. A new 12.5-mile, 40-minute Swift line would connect business and residential areas near Canyon Park in Bothell with the manufacturing and industrial areas around the Boeing plant and Paine Field in Everett.
“It’s a good way to move a lot of people and get some cars off the road,” said Mill Creek City Councilman Mike Todd, who is chairman of the Community Transit board.
Officials anticipate federal money will cover 80 percent of an estimated $42 million needed to launch the service.
The new bus route would be similar to the agency’s popular Swift rapid-transit line along Highway 99 between Everett Station and Aurora Village in Shoreline.
Public meetings about the new Swift route are scheduled from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at various locations in June. The meetings are at the Hilton Garden hotel in Bothell on June 22; Mariner High School in Everett on June 23; and City Hall in Mill Creek on June 24.
The second Swift line would have 15 stops in each direction. Buses would come every 10 minutes. Where the new route crosses the original Swift line on Highway 99, riders could connect to destinations north and south.
The increased access to public transportation could foster economic development along the new route, Todd said. That’s in addition to the benefit of helping people get to jobs near Paine Field and relieving demand for parking at Boeing.
Todd said he believes the new bus service will go a long way to improve traffic along the Bothell-Everett Highway near I-405 and to help clear congestion along 128th Street SW near I-5.
The Swift project includes plans to build a new bus lane on 128th Street SW which all drivers could use for turning right onto northbound I-5.
“It really does benefit people who don’t take the bus,” said Todd Morrow, a Community Transit spokesman.
The buses will be given priority through traffic lights. Community Transit is working with the city of Everett, Snohomish County and the state to secure grant money to buy sensors that shorten red lights and lengthen green lights when a bus is nearby.
The second Swift line could be up and running as early as September 2018. That’s much sooner than light rail, which is at least 20 years out, Morrow said.
Community Transit estimates that the new route would serve 3,300 people a day in the first year. By 2035, that number is expected to increase to more than 5,000 riders daily.
The first Swift line now serves about 5,500 people a day. Most riders are using it to travel three or four stops in less than 10 minutes, said Community Transit spokesman Martin Munguia.
The new 60-foot articulated Swift buses will have interior bike racks. Parking will not be available at stops, but riders will be able to ride regular buses to get from the McCollum Park and Mariner park-and-ride stations to the Swift line.
Each stop will have shelter, seating, electronic information boards and off-board fare collection machines.
The Swift project includes plans to build a new transit center at Seaway Boulevard and 75th Street SW in Everett, adjacent to the Boeing plant. It would serve Swift and other bus routes.
The cost to buy 12 buses to serve the second Swift route and build the transit center and stops is expected to be at least $42 million. Community Transit plans to pursue a federal grant to cover 80 percent of the cost.
June DeVoll, Community Transit’s manager of strategic planning and grants, said she expects the agency’s success with the first Swift line to help it get grant money for the second route.
“We have a good track record,” she said.
Community Transit is working on environmental reviews, design and engineering as it secures money to pay for building the second Swift line.
Once built, the agency estimates it will cost at least $7 million annually to run the route. Community Transit has asked the Legislature to allow it to ask voters for more money from sales taxes to pay for operations.
Closer to the present, Community Transit is scheduled to resume bus service on Sundays and holidays starting on Sunday after a five-year hiatus.
The agency suspended Sunday service in 2010 when sales-tax revenue dwindled due to the recession. To survive the economic downturn, Community Transit cut expenses, reduced bus service and laid off workers. Adult fares are to increase by 25 cents starting July 1 to pay for the restored service.