A Swift bus and an Everett Transit bus travel north on Rucker Avenue on Saturday in Everett. (Sue Misao / The Herald)

A Swift bus and an Everett Transit bus travel north on Rucker Avenue on Saturday in Everett. (Sue Misao / The Herald)

Traffic’s creeping back and some transit to collect fares again

Community Transit and Sound Transit are set to resume fares June 1, but not Everett Transit.

Want a small sign that things are creeping toward normalcy again?

Crawling traffic is back, kind of.

Recently weekday afternoon backups formed on northbound I-5 in Everett near the ramp to U.S. 2.

With Boeing back in business and other industries resuming operations, there are more people commuting to work. That stretch of I-5 had an average of 183,000 vehicles every day in 2018, according to Washington State Department of Transportation data.

Remember that infuriating experience? Bumper to brake light, briefly jolting up to 25 mph on a 60 mph freeway, then braking at a flood of red, just trying to get home, five days a week.

Certainly we’re not back to that kind of soul-crushing deluge yet.

Another sign? Fare collection — and enforcement — is set to resume on some public transit in June, but reduced service is still in effect.

Ridership dropped more than 70% from February for Community Transit. The agency suspended fare collection while it required riders to board and exit the rear doors to reduce exposure between drivers and passengers.

Swift Blue and Green riders will have to pay starting June 1. ORCA card reader and ticket vending machines at Swift stops are planned for frequent disinfecting.

The rest of Community Transit routes will stay fare-free through June, after fares were suspended in March.

Sound Transit’s Link light rail and Sounder passengers also will resume fare collection June 1. The agency is offering reduced “Recovery Fares” of $1 for Link and $2 for Sounder riders through June. Those fares will be options at ticket vending machines. Weekday service for Sounder North is still down to two trips.

In concert with fare collection will be enforcement, with fare enforcement officers asking riders for their ORCA card, ticket or Transit GO app ticket.

The ORCA LIFT program for low-income passengers remains available for people who qualify and apply. It reduces fares up to 66% on Sound Transit and other regional transit. A single-person household that earns less than $2,127 a month can get an ORCA LIFT card. That can be done online or by phone at 206-553-3000 or 800-756-5437.

Sound Transit express buses continue to operate without fares. All Sound Transit passengers, both bus and rail, are asked to wear face coverings.

Skagit Transit is set to collect fares again on June 1 as well after putting them on hiatus since April 6. The Mount Vernon-based agency brings thousands of riders into Everett. There were 67,091 projected riders on its 90X route from Mount Vernon to Everett Station last year, spokesperson Cheryl Willis said.

Riders on Skagit Transit can use the TouchPass system to buy passes online or using the smartphone app, and are asked to wear face masks on the buses for essential trips only.

Everett Transit, however, is staying fare-free through June. Between late February and mid-April, the city-run agency collected $250,000 less in fares than projected for the year. City leaders don’t expect to meet their $1.7 million budget for fares.

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