Community Transit plans to increase ridershipSix-Year Plan seeks 25 percent more riders without adding more service; outlines service growth if new funding is secured
The Community Transit Board of Directors yesterday approved a new six-year Transit Development Plan that forecasts modest revenue growth and no substantial service increases.
The plan also sets forth a goal for the agency to increase ridership by 30 percent – to 12 million riders a year by 2017. The plan is available online at www.communitytransit.org/futureplans.
“There is high demand for transit service in Snohomish County,” said Community Transit CEO Joyce Eleanor. “Limited resources have kept us from putting more service on the road, but we can continue to be smart about when and where we place our buses so that more customers can use them.”
Between 2010 and 2012, Community Transit cut 37 percent of its bus service as it saw sales tax revenues plummet from the recession.
Still, average weekday ridership dropped only 6 percent after the cuts. Monthly ridership is down only 14 percent when figuring in weekends as the agency no longer operates on Sundays and Saturday service has been significantly reduced.
Community Transit maintained most of its ridership by strategically cutting unproductive service – early and late-night buses, mid-day trips and low-ridership routes. As a result, productivity on the service that remains has skyrocketed.
· Local bus service within Snohomish County has seen a 31 percent increase in boardings per hour.
· Swift bus rapid transit service along Highway 99 between Everett and Shoreline has seen a 59 percent increase in boardings per hour.
· Commuter service to Seattle and UW has seen a 70 percent increase in boardings per hour.
Swift has become the agency’s highest ridership route, frequently drawing more than 100,000 riders a month. In 2012, one of every seven Community Transit passengers rode a Swift bus.
“To meet our goal of 12 million riders, we will need to continue to increase productivity,” said Eleanor. “We can do this by understanding ridership patterns and providing capacity where there is highest demand. As new funding comes in, this plan provides guidance on where new service can be focused.”
Following its recent service cuts, Community Transit is operating the same number of service hours as it did in the year 2000 when ridership was 7.2 million boardings.
In 2012, the agency provided 9.1 million rides, meaning that last year Community Transit carried 26 percent more riders than it did in 2000 with the same level of service.
The introduction of 23 Double Tall buses to Seattle commuter service in 2011 has helped increase productivity. These double decker buses replaced 60-foot articulated buses, but added 30 percent passenger capacity at roughly the same operating cost. It is not unusual for evening trips on a Double Tall to carry more than 100 passengers.
Community Transit submitted a state Regional Mobility Grant request to buy 17 more Double Tall replacement buses.
That project was ranked 5th out of 27 projects by the Washington State Department of Transportation, but must still be approved by the Legislature to get funding.
If approved, Community Transit will be able to use state dollars to match federal formula funding to buy the new double deckers at no cost to the agency and provide more capacity on its popular Seattle routes.
Community Transit relies on sales tax revenue and fares to fund service. Sales tax revenue is expected to grow only marginally over the next few years, and the agency would need state authority to seek any new revenue from the public. Efforts are underway in Olympia to secure new funding sources.
Meanwhile, the agency plans to raise fares every other year to help keep pace with inflation. Fares were raised in 2008, 2010 and in February 2013.
Community Transit is responsible for providing transportation options for Snohomish County residents, including bus and paratransit service, vanpool and ridesharing options.
Call Community Transit at (425) 353-RIDE or (800) 562-1375 for bus information, or (888) 814-1300 for carpool or vanpool information, or go to www.communitytransit.org.
You can also read their blog at www.communitytransit.blogspot.com, visit their Facebook page or see them on YouTube.
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