Washington elected officials and Federal Transit Administration Administrator Nuria Fernandez (fourth from left) break ground Tuesday at the Swift Orange bus rapid transit line in Lynnwood. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Washington elected officials and Federal Transit Administration Administrator Nuria Fernandez (fourth from left) break ground Tuesday at the Swift Orange bus rapid transit line in Lynnwood. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Swift Orange line to link Edmonds, Mill Creek to Lynnwood rail

Construction kicked off Tuesday on the bus route, which will boost rapid service in south Snohomish County.

LYNNWOOD — Buses rolled by, cranes beeped and workers jackhammered during construction of a light rail station Tuesday, as elected leaders and Community Transit staff signaled the start of work on the new Swift Orange bus rapid transit line.

In two years, 60-foot articulated buses will cruise with up to 10-minute frequency over 11 miles between Edmonds College and Mill Creek.

“Behold the power of great infrastructure policy,” Community Transit CEO Ric Ilgenfritz told a large crowd before the ceremonial groundbreaking at the Lynnwood Transit Center.

In the crowd were Gov. Jay Inslee, Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, Reps. Suzan DelBene and Rick Larsen, and state legislators including transportation committee chairmen Jake Fey and Marko Liias, who steered a nearly $17 billion transportation package this session.

Bus rapid transit is dubbed “rail on wheels” for its fast and frequent service. Like rail service, passengers pay before they board, which saves time. There also aren’t as many stops as traditional bus service.

Snohomish County has had Swift bus rapid transit since 2009, when the agency started its Blue line, mostly along Highway 99 between Everett and Shoreline. Swift Green launched in 2019 between Boeing at the Seaway Transit Center and Bothell.

It has been a popular service, comprising about 33% of all Community Transit rides. Ridership didn’t plummet like on general buses during the pandemic, according to the agency’s data.

Community Transit CEO Ric Ilgenfritz in front of Lynnwood Link light rail construction Tuesday before a groundbreaking ceremony for the Swift Orange line. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Community Transit CEO Ric Ilgenfritz in front of Lynnwood Link light rail construction Tuesday before a groundbreaking ceremony for the Swift Orange line. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

The Orange line will have 13 stations in both directions between Edmonds College to the west and McCollum Park to the east. It should be 25% faster than existing local service, according to Community Transit.

When it starts in 2024, Swift Orange buses will connect with Sound Transit Link light rail at the Lynnwood Transit Center, also called the Lynnwood City Center. It will share some stations with the Green line along the Bothell-Everett Highway, and it intersects with the Blue line at 196th Street SW and Highway 99.

Swift Orange Line planned 2024 network. (Community Transit)

Swift Orange Line planned 2024 network. (Community Transit)

Traffic signal improvements and technology on the buses are included in the development to help secure trip reliability.

The $75.6 million capital project also includes construction of new transit centers at Edmonds College and McCollum Park. The Mill Creek park and ride lot will be demolished and rebuilt, Community Transit’s Christopher Silveira said.

Federal Transit Administration Administrator Nuria Fernandez stands to speak at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Swift Orange bus rapid transit line Tuesday in Lynnwood. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Federal Transit Administration Administrator Nuria Fernandez stands to speak at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Swift Orange bus rapid transit line Tuesday in Lynnwood. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Most of the Orange line’s money comes from federal grants to help build the stations and buy 15 New Flyer buses for Community Transit’s Swift fleet. Each of the 52-seat buses can carry 70 passengers and has three roll-up bike racks inside.

“Whether it’s a bus, a ferry or light rail, we love it,” said Nuria Fernandez, administrator for the Federal Transit Administration. “It’s about giving the taxpayer what they deserve, and that’s the best transportation system this county can offer.”

Cantwell and Murray said they would continue to support transit investments from the federal government.

The new vehicles will keep the same paint scheme as existing blue-and-green Swift buses. No orange stripe will join them, because each bus could be deployed to a different line.

State Sen. Marko Liias, D-Everett, speaks at the groundbreaking of the Swift Orange line Tuesday in Lynnwood. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

State Sen. Marko Liias, D-Everett, speaks at the groundbreaking of the Swift Orange line Tuesday in Lynnwood. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Work is expected to start in two weeks, first at Edmonds College, then at the McCollum Park and Swamp Creek park and rides.

There are other Swift lines in early stages of development, including the Gold line north to Arlington, and a potential Silver line that would run east to Highway 9 at Cathcart Way. Those two lines each received $10 million in the legislature’s Move Ahead WA package.

“We’ve got many, many more Swift lines to build,” Liias said.

Ben Watanabe: bwatanabe@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3037; Twitter @benwatanabe.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Traffic idles while waiting for the lights to change along 33rd Avenue West on Tuesday, April 2, 2024 in Lynnwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Lynnwood seeks solutions to Costco traffic boondoggle

Let’s take a look at the troublesome intersection of 33rd Avenue W and 30th Place W, as Lynnwood weighs options for better traffic flow.

A memorial with small gifts surrounded a utility pole with a photograph of Ariel Garcia at the corner of Alpine Drive and Vesper Drive ion Wednesday, April 10, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Death of Everett boy, 4, spurs questions over lack of Amber Alert

Local police and court authorities were reluctant to address some key questions, when asked by a Daily Herald reporter this week.

The new Amazon fulfillment center under construction along 172nd Street NE in Arlington, just south of Arlington Municipal Airport. (Chuck Taylor / The Herald) 20210708
Frito-Lay leases massive building at Marysville business park

The company will move next door to Tesla and occupy a 300,0000-square-foot building at the Marysville business park.

A voter turns in a ballot on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024, outside the Snohomish County Courthouse in Everett, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
On fourth try, Arlington Heights voters overwhelmingly pass fire levy

Meanwhile, in another ballot that gave North County voters deja vu, Lakewood voters appeared to pass two levies for school funding.

In this Jan. 4, 2019 photo, workers and other officials gather outside the Sky Valley Education Center school in Monroe, Wash., before going inside to collect samples for testing. The samples were tested for PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, as well as dioxins and furans. A lawsuit filed on behalf of several families and teachers claims that officials failed to adequately respond to PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, in the school. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Judge halves $784M for women exposed to Monsanto chemicals at Monroe school

Monsanto lawyers argued “arbitrary and excessive” damages in the Sky Valley Education Center case “cannot withstand constitutional scrutiny.”

Mukilteo Police Chief Andy Illyn and the graphic he created. He is currently attending the 10-week FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia. (Photo provided by Andy Illyn)
Help wanted: Unicorns for ‘pure magic’ career with Mukilteo police

“There’s a whole population who would be amazing police officers” but never considered it, the police chief said.

Officers respond to a ferry traffic disturbance Tuesday after a woman in a motorhome threatened to drive off the dock, authorities said. (Photo provided by Mukilteo Police Department)
Everett woman disrupts ferry, threatens to drive motorhome into water

Police arrested the woman at the Mukilteo ferry terminal Tuesday morning after using pepper-ball rounds to get her out.

Bothell
Man gets 75 years for terrorizing exes in Bothell, Mukilteo

In 2021, Joseph Sims broke into his ex-girlfriend’s home in Bothell and assaulted her. He went on a crime spree from there.

Allan and Frances Peterson, a woodworker and artist respectively, stand in the door of the old horse stable they turned into Milkwood on Sunday, March 31, 2024, in Index, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Old horse stall in Index is mini art gallery in the boonies

Frances and Allan Peterson showcase their art. And where else you can buy a souvenir Index pillow or dish towel?

Providence Hospital in Everett at sunset Monday night on December 11, 2017. Officials Providence St. Joseph Health Ascension Health reportedly are discussing a merger that would create a chain of hospitals, including Providence Regional Medical Center Everett, plus clinics and medical care centers in 26 states spanning both coasts. (Kevin Clark / The Daily Herald)
Providence to pay $200M for illegal timekeeping and break practices

One of the lead plaintiffs in the “enormous” class-action lawsuit was Naomi Bennett, of Providence Regional Medical Center Everett.

Dorothy Crossman rides up on her bike to turn in her ballot  on Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Voters to decide on levies for Arlington fire, Lakewood schools

On Tuesday, a fire district tries for the fourth time to pass a levy and a school district makes a change two months after failing.

Everett
Red Robin to pay $600K for harassment at Everett location

A consent decree approved Friday settles sexual harassment and retaliation claims by four victims against the restaurant chain.

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.