Community Transit’s Board of Director’s Wednesday voted 6-3 to approve a plan to cut bus service 20 percent effective Feb.20, 2012. As a result, Community Transit’s commuter service will maintain much of its current routing with fewer trips in 2012, while local service will be restructured to serve higher ridership corridors.
After a summer-long public comment process that included reviews of four proposed service plans, the board chose the so-called Hybrid Alternative, which combines the commuter routing proposed in Alternative I with the local routing of Alternative III, with some modifications. The board did not restore service on Sundays or major holidays.
Snohomish County Councilmember Dave Gossett, Lynnwood Councilmember Ted Hikel, Mountlake Terrace Mayor Jerry Smith, Snohomish County Councilmember Dave Somers, Mill Creek Mayor Mike Todd and Stanwood Mayor Dianne White voted in favor of the plan. It was opposed by Mukilteo Mayor Joe Marine, Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring and Gold Bar City Councilmember Steve Slawson.
This fall, Community Transit will develop maps and schedules for each of the routes and will launch a public education effort early in 2012. While no specific trip times are available yet, what is known is there will be fewer trips on almost every route, bus frequency will be decreased and the buses will end service between 10 and 11 p.m. on weekdays. Currently the last weekday route finishes at about 1 a.m.
“It’s never easy to cut service because of the impacts on so many lives,” Gossett said. “We listened to the public’s input on this issue, and that guided our decision.”
The board looked at four alternatives – three that were presented to the public in June, and the Hybrid Alternative that was developed at the board’s direction after the initial public comment period on the original three alternatives closed in mid-July.
With the decision, Community Transit will cut about 20 percent of its service starting Feb. 20, 2012. The agency will save about $12 million with the service reductions. The number of jobs that will be eliminated has yet to be determined.
The service cuts are necessary because Community Transit’s sales tax revenue has fallen by more than 20 percent from the level it received in 2007, the last pre-recession year. Meanwhile, operating expenses such as fuel, supplies and labor costs have continued rise.