EVERETT — Take the shuttle to the sounds or the bus for the bay.
Free evening Everett Transit bus rides, officially called Wheels to the Waterfront, begin this week. The Thursday-Friday-Saturday service links some of north Everett’s hotels to downtown and the marina.
The fare-free rides start at 6 p.m.
It’s basically Route 6, which runs between Everett Station and 13th Street at West Marine View Drive. But the new free seasonal run doesn’t stop at the Pacific Avenue campus of Providence or the transit hub.
Waterfront business owners have told city leaders a late-summer evening transit service could help them, Everett Transit outreach coordinator Ryan Bisson said.
“It’s really just focusing on getting people out and about,” Bisson said of the new bus service.
The path is within reach of the Best Western Cascadia Inn, the Courtyard by Marriott, Delta Hotels by Marriott, the Hampton Inn, Hotel Indigo, the Inn at Port Gardner and Travelodge, as well as dozens of restaurants and shops.
“A free service makes it that much easier for people to hop on transit,” Downtown Everett Association Executive Director Liz Stenning said in an email. “As this is a seasonal pilot program, we’re excited to see ridership numbers and plan for the future.”
The Port of Everett’s sprawling waterfront along Port Gardner and Possession Sound hosts weekly events in summer such as Music at the Marina, Sail-in Cinema, food truck Fridays and the Jetty Island passenger ferry. There also are 2,300 boat slips at the marina, with plenty of people who could use a reliable ride into town and back.
“We have always heard of desire for a shuttle service of some sort, so this definitely hits that mark,” port spokesperson Cat Soper said. “It’s a growing need.”
The regular Route 6 stops running by 6 p.m. at the latest and parking costs money after the first two hours.
The new free route has four stops going north: 32nd Street at Pine Street, Hoyt Avenue at Wall Street, Grand Avenue at Wall, and 13th Street at West Marine View Drive.
There are five southbound stops: 13th at West Marine View Drive, 16th Street at West Marine View Drive, Grand at Wall, Colby Avenue at Wall, then back to 32nd at Pine.
Passengers can board the nighttime bus without paying fare Thursday, Friday and Saturday through Aug. 20, then just Friday and Saturday through September.
On Thursdays, the last northbound bus from Delta Hotel is at 9:20, the last southbound bus from 13th Street is at 9:47 p.m. On Fridays and Saturdays, the last northbound bus from Delta is at 10 p.m., then southbound at 10:27 p.m.
“If you’re going to go down and have some drinks at the beer garden, just hop on transit,” Bisson said.
Everett’s using 40-foot buses, so there should be plenty of room for passengers to get between downtown and the waterfront. Transit leaders plan to deploy one of the battery electric buses on the route, which do not produce greenhouse gas emissions and are much quieter than the ones that run on fossil fuel.
“We don’t want to disturb Music at the Marina with a loud diesel bus going by,” Bisson said.
While free for the riders, the city estimates it will spend $2,100 per week through Aug. 20, then $1,500 weekly through September on the service. It’s coming out of the transit fund, an enterprise fund within the city that is meant to pay for itself.
It will have the same pool of bus drivers who operate the other Everett Transit routes.
The new service irked driver union president Steve Oss, who said he felt like it wasn’t discussed with him and other Amalgamated Transit Union leadership. He was worried that the waterfront run could disrupt the driver’s schedule and eligibility for a morning shift the next day, because they’re required to have at least nine hours off between work days.
“Most of this I do not know other than some rumors or posters that I’ve seen,” Oss said.
The city establishes service within the confines of the collective bargaining agreement, Everett Transit director Tom Hingson said. As such, for the Wheels to the Waterfront route, the agency plans to use its pool of 16 driver positions called the “extra board,” who pick up “odd pieces of work” and are guaranteed 70 hours in a two-week pay period.
“It’s not the typical work week,” Hingson said.
Everett has run free bus service for special events in the past, including Independence Day and Sorticulture.
Earlier this summer, the Everett City Council approved ending fares for riders 18 years old and younger. That decision was spurred by state legislation and grant funding opportunities.
Ben Watanabe: 425-339-3037; email@example.com; Twitter: @benwatanabe.
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