Community Transit in 2015: Fare increase, more service, hires and buses but no additional parking

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CT bus photo8In welcome news to bus riders, the new $116 million Community Transit budget includes 28,000 more hours of service, a 17 percent increase for 2015.

That is the greatest boost for bus customers in Snohomish County since cuts were made in 2010 and 2012. The transit agency cut 37 percent of its service coming out of the recession, a total of 160,000 hours a year, said Martin Munguia, Community Transit spokesman.

On Dec. 4, the Community Transit board also voted to return Sunday service to its offerings and will add trips during the middle of the week as well.

The agency is also replacing 17 60-foot buses with double-decker buses, which will mainly run on south county routes to Seattle. Five additional double deckers will also be added for a total of 22. The entire fleet of double deckers, which seat 77, will be 45 buses. Regular 60-foot buses have 59 seats on them.

In 2014, 27 new drivers have been hired. 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.

The improvements come with a fare increase: local and commuter routes will see a 25-cent fare increase starting July 1. Reduced fare customers and senior fares are not affected.

While more service is added thanks to increasing sales tax revenue, more parking at the Lynnwood and Mountlake Transit centers is unlikely in the near future, Munguia said.

“We’re putting money into service,” not parking, Munguia said.

The Lynnwood lots fill up usually by 7:15 a.m. or so, while the Mountlake Terrace Transit Center garage and park and ride lot are full by a few minutes after 8 a.m. most days except Friday.

There is some parking capacity at Lynnwood’s Ash Way Park and Ride and at 164th Street Southwest. a mile west of Ash Way at Swamp Creek Park and Ride, where commuter buses pick up riders, Munguia said.

“In the near-term future the Park and Ride in Mukilteo is the only one in the plan for next several years,” Munguia said. Sound Transit’s capital projects are expanding light rail and will likely add parking. They will look at where they have stations to determine what demand is going to be, he said.

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

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