Citing lower revenues due to the economic recession, Community Transit is proposing major cuts in service — including no bus or paratransit service on Sundays and major holidays — beginning in June. The agency is also proposing a fare increase for local bus and paratransit service. There will be no fare increase for commuter routes.
Community Transit has scheduled a series of public meetings to take comment on the proposal, including one this Tuesday, Jan. 12, in Edmonds.
It’s the third year in a row that Community Transit has had to make budget reductions, including about $14 million in staff, training and marketing over the past two years. Until now, the agency says, it has been able to do so without impacting service.
Nearly all of Community Transitâ€™s 64 local and commuter bus routes would be affected in an effort to eliminate service that is duplicated by other providers, streamline routes and make existing service more efficient. The agency is also proposing to suspend all service on Sundays and major holidays, including DART paratransit service and Swift bus rapid transit. By closing its base on these lower ridership days, Community Transit said it would achieve 47 percent of the proposalâ€™s savings with only 35 percent of total service hours cut and impact fewer customers.
Combined, these proposed service cuts and suspensions would save the agency $5 million in the second half of 2010 and $11 million in 2011.
The proposed fare increase would raise local bus and DART fares by 25 cents for all fare categories: youth, adult and reduced fare (senior/disabled/Medicare). Even with the proposed fare increase, Community Transitâ€™s local bus fares would be comparable with other local transit fares in the region. The proposed fare increase would raise about $250,000 in the second half of 2010 and $500,000 in 2011.
â€œThis is an unavoidable situation and weâ€™ve held off as long as we could, but like most other businesses weâ€™ve been hard hit by the economy and itâ€™s now impacting our customers,â€ said CEO Joyce Eleanor.
Route-by-route details of the proposal are posted online and available on buses. A video featuring CEO Joyce Eleanor that outlines the agencyâ€™s economic situation and provides information on the proposals also is posted on the agencyâ€™s website, as well as on YouTube and Facebook.
â€œI realize that some people depend on Sunday and holiday transit service, but without this move we would need to propose deeper cuts to service every other day when even more people would be impacted,â€ Eleanor said. â€œThis is a service suspension and we will make these cuts the highest priority to be restored as soon as the agency can financially do so.â€
Eleanor and staff will host five community meetings throughout January at which details of the proposal will be shared, and riders and members of the public can ask questions.
On Feb. 4, the Community Transit Board of Directors will hold a public hearing on the proposal at its regular monthly meeting, at 3 p.m. in the Community Transit Board Room, 7100 Hardeson Road, Everett. The board is expected to take action on the proposal on March 4. If approved, the fare increase would go into effect on June 1 and service cuts on June 13.
Community meetings will be held:
Jan. 12, 5:30-7 p.m.
Snohomish County South County PUD office, 21018 Highway 99, Edmonds
Jan. 14, 6:30-8 p.m.
Marysville Library, 6120 Grove St., Marysville
Jan. 19, 10 a.m.-noon
Everett Station Weyerhaeuser Room, 3201 Smith Ave., Everett, on the fourth floor
This meeting will focus on impacts to DART paratransit customers.
Jan. 20, 5:30-7 p.m.
Monroe School District Administration Building, 200 E. Fremont St., Monroe
Jan. 26, 6:30-8 p.m.
Mountlake Terrace Library, 23300 58th Ave. W., Mountlake Terrace
Public comment on the proposed service and fare change will be accepted through Feb. 8. Comments can be sent to:
Community Transit 2010 Changes
7100 Hardeson Road, Everett 98203
425-353-7433 (RIDE); 800-562-1375; TTY Relay 711