CT restores Saturday bus runs

By WARREN CORNWALL

Herald Writer

Starting in mid-September, LuRee Sperry will once again be able to attend Saturday meetings of a group for people with hearing problems, courtesy of Community Transit.

Laura Jensen is not so fortunate.

Both are confined to wheelchairs, live on the outskirts of Everett, and have relied on the bus agency’s door-to-door service for the disabled.

But geography and a decision by CT’s board on Thursday meant Sperry regained previously canceled Saturday bus rides, while Jensen remains without the service she lost in February.

"I like it very much," Sperry, 84, said of the resumption of most Saturday bus service starting Sept. 18.

"I don’t have a social life anymore," lamented Jensen, 38, whose electric wheelchair is so unwieldy that without the special vans she has had to quit a computer class, support group and volunteer job.

Despite pleadings from an activist for the disabled, the CT board unanimously approved plans restoring 86 percent of Saturday service, and commuter runs for south and north Snohomish County, but not returning special Dial-a-Ride, or DART, service to Jensen and 115 others.

The bus service to be returned Sept. 18 was part of cuts made earlier in reaction to the 1999 passage of Initiative 695. The initiative canceled the car tax, a source of roughly a third of CT’s operating budget.

Board member Dave Earling welcomed the service revival as a victory achieved with extensive input from unions, workers and citizens, and a one-year financial aid package from the state.

With limited funding, he said, they could do little more.

"We understand and are sensitive to the fact that we didn’t restore all the service. But we’re going to need more money to do that," Earling said.

But Sarajane Siegfriedt, director of the Disability Resource Center in Everett, said she was disappointed CT’s staff hadn’t briefed board members, or earlier committees, about a plan to help more disabled people for a fraction of the $3 million package approved Thursday.

Siegfriedt lobbied the board to resume DART trips for people who live near bus routes wiped out in the early round of service cuts. Now, CT only offers the special service to people living within three-fourths of a mile of a regular bus route – as required by federal law.

For an additional $58,000 a year, the bus agency could have gone above the legal requirements and helped an estimated 116 former DART riders such as Jensen who are now completely without service, she said.

But Earling said that would require a change in the agency’s long-standing policy tying DART service to regular bus routes. A memo from agency staffers on Thursday warned board members that change could later force them to maintain other costly service for the disabled.

A policy shift like that was beyond the scope of the board’s considerations Thursday, Earling said.

"I’m not averse to doing it," he said. "But I hadn’t even thought about it."

Teresa "Flying Eagle" Baird, a long-time activist for transit for the disabled, backed the board’s decision, saying the pain of cuts needed to be spread equally among riders.

But the loss of a bus could be more devastating for someone in an wheelchair, said Siegfriedt.

"Some people need a little extra help at the outset," she said.

Earling cautioned all of the restored service could be lost within a year if CT doesn’t find another source of money. The $3 million comes from a one-time package approved by state lawmakers.

Transit officials are considering asking county voters to approve a three-tenths of a penny sales tax increase to replace money lost to I-695.

You can call Herald Writer Warren Cornwall at 425-339-3463 or send e-mail to

cornwall@heraldnet.com.

Coming back

Community Transit Bus service returning Sept. 18:

Most Saturday service – 86 percent. All weekend service was canceled in February.

A commuter route from Stanwood to Seattle gets three round-trips a day, after being cut to two.

Two commuter bus routes from south Snohomish County to Boeing’s Everett plant.

For more information, call Community Transit at 800-562-1375.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Kim Skarda points at her home on a map on Thursday, June 20, 2024 in Concrete, Washington. A community called Sauk River Estates has a very steep slope above it. There is a DNR-approved timber sale that boarders the estate properties, yet they were not consulted about the sale before approval. The community has already appealed the sale and has hired their own geologist to conduct a slope stability report at the site. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Beneath steep slope, Concrete neighbors fear landslides from logging above

Nielsen Brothers plans to cut 54 acres of timber directly behind the community of 83 homes. Locals said they were never consulted.

Law enforcement respond to a person hit by a train near the Port of Everett Mount Baker Terminal on Thursday, June 27, 2024 in Mukilteo, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
2 killed in waterfront train crashes were near Mukilteo ‘quiet zone’

In June, two people were hit by trains on separate days near Mukilteo Boulevard. “These situations are incredibly tragic,” Everett’s mayor said.

Rob Plotnikoff takes a measurement as a part of the county's State of Our Waters survey at Tambark Creek in Bothell, Washington on Monday, July 1, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Snohomish County stream team bushwhacks a path to healthier waterways

This summer, the crew of three will survey 40 sites for the State of Our Waters program. It’s science in locals’ backyards.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Mountlake Terrace in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
4th suspect arrested after Mountlake Terrace home robbery

Police arrested Taievion Rogers, 19, on Tuesday. Prosecutors charged his three alleged accomplices in April.

A 10 acre parcel off of Highway 99, between 240th and 242nd Street Southwest that the city of Edmonds is currently in the process of acquiring on Monday, July 10, 2023 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Edmonds ditches $37M Landmark public park project off Highway 99

The previous mayor envisioned parks and more in south Edmonds, in a historically neglected area. The new administration is battling budget woes.

Edmonds school official sworn in as Mount Vernon supe

Victor Vergara took his oath of office last week. He was assistant superintendent of equity and student success in Edmonds.

A transit rider steps onto a Community Transit bus on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
What route should new Smokey Point bus route take through Marysville?

By 2029, the Gold Line will connect Everett Station to Smokey Point. Community Transit wants your input on the exact path.

Everett
Suspected impaired driver strikes patrol car on I-5 near Everett

No injuries were reported in the crash on northbound I-5 between Everett and Marysville early Wednesday morning.

Public Works Senior Engineer Randy Loveless looks out over Everett’s 101-year-old reservoir at a groundbreaking ceremony for the Reservoir 3 Replacement Project on Tuesday, July 23, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
With looming earthquake threat, Everett breaks ground on $80M reservoirs

Contractors will replace a 100-year-old reservoir east of Evergreen Way with two smaller ones.

Monroe High School (Monroe School District)
Former Monroe High teacher charged with sexual misconduct

In a police interview, Giles Stanton acknowledged relationships with former students, reportedly saying “he felt a bit like Bill Clinton.”

Lauren Davis, left, Lori Theis, Dunia Wabenga
Public safety is a central question in south Snohomish County race

Rep. Lauren Davis is running for a fourth term. Republican Lori Theis and Democrat Dunia Wabenga are trying to unseat her.

Lynnwood
Boy, 15, stabbed after fight on bus north of Lynnwood

Police arrested a suspect, 32, for investigation of assault in the alleged stabbing Tuesday off Highway 99.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.