Community Transit proposes to add 27,000 hours of new service, hire 34 additional bus drivers

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More service and more Double Talls are coming in 2015 from Community Transit.
More service and more Double Talls are coming in 2015 from Community Transit.

Community Transit is proposing to add 27,000 hours of new bus service in its proposed 2015 budget.

That represents about 17 percent of the service hours that were cut during the recession. Also included in the budget is funding for 34 new bus driver positions to help support the service increase.

The proposed 2015 budget summary can be found at www.communitytransit.org/budget.

A public hearing on the budget proposal will take place at 3 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 6 at Community Transit headquarters, 7100 Hardeson Road in Everett. At that same meeting, a service proposal will be announced for how the agency would like to allocate the new service hours, kicking off a two-month public comment period.

Community Transit added about 7,500 hours of new service last month, the agency’s first non-grant-funded service increase since 2009. New service is possible due to rising sales tax revenue, which makes up about 65 percent of the agency’s funding. The proposed 2015 budget anticipates sales tax revenue of $82.8 million, an increase of 6 percent over 2014.

Community Transit had received $76 million in sales tax revenue in 2007, which sank to $62 million in 2009 during the depths of the recession. Sales tax revenue did not rise above $70 million until 2013. In 2010 and 2012, Community Transit cut a total of 160,000 hours of bus service to keep expenses below incoming revenue. As the Snohomish County economy has improved, sales tax has begun to rise and the agency is adding service.

After the Community Transit Board of Directors approved an updated six-year Transit Development Plan in May that outlined its planned service increases, the agency stepped up its efforts to hire more drivers. To date, 27 new drivers have been hired this year (including five who graduated training this week). Another 19 drivers are in training and expected to graduate before the end of the year. The 2015 budget calls for another 34 to be hired next year.

Information about how to apply to be a Community Transit driver is available at www.communitytransit.org/drive4us.

The proposed 2015 budget also funds several major capital improvements, including:

· Purchase of 17 new Double Tall double-decker buses to replace aging 60-foot articulated buses. This will bring the fleet total to 40 Double Tall buses.

· Raising the height of the bay roof at the McCollum Park Park & Ride to accommodate Double Tall buses.

· Pavement and fencing improvements at the Ash Way Park & Ride, as well as adding some parking spaces and a driver restroom.

· Repaving the Swamp Creek Park & Ride lot.

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 its blog at www.communitytransit.blogspot.com.

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