Community Transit’s new long-term plan, Journey 2050, includes new Swift routes, a transition to zero emissions and a revamped approach with light rail service coming to Snohomish County.
It spans 25 years and seeks to accomplish regional transit expansion, zero emissions and a broad goal to increase mobility.
The Community Transit plan is also influenced by regional changes. Snohomish County has seen significant growth with the population expected to cross 1 million around 2040.
Incoming light rail, including the Lynnwood extension, will bring big changes in the coming year. A light rail extension to Everett is also in its early stages, with the timeline currently pointing to the late 2030s for opening. Planning is expected to last until 2027.
A broad goal of the plan is to add more local connections, as part of a larger push to get transit riders to the Link. Part of the plan includes replacing Northgate and downtown Seattle bus service with routes to light rail stations in Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace.
“The extension will allow Community Transit service to leverage the new high-capacity transit connections to enable more frequent service throughout Snohomish County,” the plan states. “Improved connections include plans for future Swift lines through 2030 and more frequent local service, new local routes, and new intra-county express routes connecting to light rail.”
Community Transit’s new Orange Line, slated to begin service March 30, is one such example. It will be an east-west Swift rapid-transit route connecting Edmonds College and the park and ride at McCollum Park in Mill Creek.
Once the light rail begins service, the Orange Line will provide a bus option directly to light rail. Another Swift line, Gold, will eventually connect Smokey Point to Everett Station. The Gold Line is expected to begin service before the end of the decade. And the Blue Line will expand to link up to light rail, too.
Community Transit is also pushing ahead with its switch to zero-emission vehicles. For that, the agency is testing hydrogen and electric buses, CEO Ric Ilgenfritz said. Community Transit is looking to transition its full fleet to zero emissions by 2044.
Hydrogen currently has to be trucked in, Ilgenfritz said. In October, the federal Department of Energy picked Washington, as part of a regional partnership, to be a “Clean Hydrogen Hub.”
This could open up hydrogen as a locally sourced option. Hydrogen buses have a longer driving range than electric buses, Ilgenfritz said.
The long-range plan also notes “innovative services” as a path forward, including services like the Zip Alderwood Shuttle. The shuttle is on-demand and generally functions similar to other ride-share services.
The agency will test similar services in Arlington, Darrington and Lake Stevens this year.
The long-range plan states it is looking to continue DART Paratransit and Vanpool programs as well. The Community Transit fleet is projected to be around 100 vehicles in 2050, the report stated, with more of those vehicles being 40-foot buses and 60-foot articulated buses.