Community Transit expanding its service to meet region’s needs

The passage of Community Transit’s Proposition 1 last November has kick-started a tremendous growth in transit service for Snohomish County.

This expansion comes just as the county’s population is booming and more than 140,000 new jobs are forecast to land here in the next two decades.

More than 6,000 riders are using our buses every Sunday after Community Transit returned to 365-day service last June.

We are proposing an even larger transit expansion for this September with two new routes that would operate on Highway 9.

Route 109 would leave the Ash Way Park and Ride north of Lynnwood and travel east through Mill Creek on 132nd and Cathcart Road, then north on Highway 9 through Snohomish to the Lake Stevens Transit Center.

Route 209 would leave Quil Ceda Village heading south by the Quil Ceda Creek Casino, east on Fourth Street in Marysville, turning south on Highway 9 past the new Walmart and ending at the Lake Stevens Transit Center.

Both routes would have 30-minute service in the a.m. and p.m. weekday peaks, and hourly service the rest of the day and on weekends. Together, these routes would provide new east-west transit connections across our county, and a north-south transit alternative to I-5.

We are also proposing more trips on existing routes, many of which will expand our service day by starting buses earlier in the morning or running later at night.

That’s what members of the public have told us they want: more trips to more places at more times of the day. We’ve listened, and now we’re ready to deliver.

Community Transit has just updated its six-year plan to outline which areas of the county will have the greatest transit need between now and 2021, and how we can meet that demand.

Past plans had stated that we couldn’t meet demand because of a lack of funding. This year’s plan includes that additional funding and we will direct it to meeting that demand.

In 2015 we experienced the “Triple Crown” of transit funding as the state approved a 16-year Connecting Washington package, local voters approved Proposition 1 and Congress passed a five-year federal transportation bill. These measures will not only improve transit funding, but also will help build and maintain roads, bridges and highways.

Transit service will continue to expand over the next six years. As we strengthen the network we have to be more reliable and more frequent and add more weekend service around the county.

In the 2018-19 time frame, we will launch Swift II on Highway 527, a rapid transit line with buses every 10 minutes to connect the growing job centers at Canyon Park and Boeing/Paine Field.

The intersection of the two Swift lines on Highway 99 and Airport Road will mean fast, frequent service along two densely populated county highways, and will establish a new rapid transit network.

President Barack Obama recently included $43 million in his 2017 budget for Swift II — money that will come into this county for construction of 31 new Swift stations.

According to Economic Alliance Snohomish County, a strong transit system helps attract new business. That means this investment in transit will help keep our economy growing, and the environmental advantages help protect our quality of life.

With more transportation options available, many new residents may decide to take the bus to work rather than add to our growing traffic problem. Every bus on the road takes the place of 40, 60 or 80 cars that would otherwise be making that same commute.

Sixty percent of Community Transit’s 40,000 daily riders are choice commuters, meaning they have a car, but choose to take transit for their daily commute. More transit service means more people will choose to ride transit.

For those who continue to drive their own vehicles, more transit service means fewer cars alongside you. More transit is simply good for everyone.

I invite you to take a look at our new transit service proposal and our six-year plan at www.community transit.org. We want to partner with you to create a better community.

Emmett Heath is the chief executive for Community Transit.

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