Monday, July 9, 2018

Meet Emma, Transit Instruction Program Graduate

Transit Instruction: Fostering Independence for People with Special Needs

Transit Instruction Program Graduate from Community Transit on Vimeo.

It takes guts to try something new and stretch past your comfort zone. We could all take a lesson from Emma, whose bravery and bright personality helped her overcome her anxiety of traveling alone, and opened new doors to independence and freedom.

23 year old Emma used to depend on her mother to drive her where she needed to go. But when her mom started a new job and wasn't available to drive her any longer, she looked into programs that would help Emma learn how to take the bus. She called our Transit Instruction Program, where our travel trainers provide personalized instruction to build knowledge and confidence.

First on the agenda? Helping Emma learn how to get to her part-time job at a co-op in Marysville where she sweeps floors, organizes, and enjoys the dogs that are allowed to come in the store while their owners shop. "It didn't take very long to learn how to ride the bus, but it did take a while to be confident and do it by myself. I don't normally like new things. I was worried I would get off at the wrong stop."

After riding with her travel trainer, Christine, several times, Emma's mom helped her decide that she had everything she needed to be successful to ride on her own. Christine followed her the first time, and since then Emma has been on her own. "It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. I like being able to go places. I do have to tell my mom so she doesn't get worried. I like being able to do things by myself."

Emma now uses Route 202 to get to work, to the bank to cash her checks, to the library for books, and to the grocery store where she picks up supplies for baking (she jokes about her sweet tooth). When asked where she might like to go by bus someday, she eagerly suggested a museum. Another adventure to plan with Christine.

"I feel like it's a good program because I feel like it would help a lot of people that wouldn't otherwise be able to do what I've done."

Congratulations, Emma! We are inspired by your story and can't wait to see what adventures you discover next.

Do you know someone with special needs who would benefit from our Transit Instruction Program? Visit www.communitytransit.org/transitinstruction or call (425) 348-2379.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Community Transit Employee Spotlight

Bus Driver Ray Harnisch: Going the Extra 3,000,000 Miles


Service to Community

Ray Harnisch has been driving buses for Community Transit for 21 years, and one of his favorite parts of the job is working with children.

He’s not a school bus driver, but he’s met thousands of kids through the agency’s School Transit Education Program (STEP). His blue eyes sparkle like an excited grandpa when he talks with the kids about buses, sitting comfortably and asking them as many questions as they’re asking him.

When Ray is on the road, some of his favorite moments are when young children wave at him.


Ray Harnisch On What Makes Driving a Bus Fun from Community Transit on Vimeo.

“I wave back at them,” he said. “I want them to know, when they get older and can ride our buses, that bus drivers are friendly. We’re there to help.”

Many of those kids eventually become riders on his bus, and he remembers them.

“I’ve watched them grow up, until they’re busing to college and their jobs,” he said. “I’m part of their world, their community.”

Service to Safety

In addition to driving a regular route, driving for STEP and mentoring other drivers, Ray has served on accident review committees, the service planning input team and on Community Transit’s Safety Committee, which he often chaired.

Ray’s attention to safety recently earned him a Three Million Mile Award for safe driving – that’s 3,000,000 miles of safe driving in stop-and-go traffic, day in and day out.

For perspective, that’s the equivalent of 120 trips around the world or more than six trips to the moon and back, without a preventable accident. The average American driver would need 225 years to drive that far!

Ray credits his amazing safety record to support from his co-workers.

“I didn’t do this by myself,” he said. “There’s a big team that makes it possible.” He attributes his accomplishment to excellent bus maintenance, supportive supervisors and dispatchers, and constantly updated training.

An award ceremony for Ray was attended by dozens of his co-workers. Community Transit CEO Emmett Heath thanked him for his service to the citizens of Snohomish County and to the agency, then presented him with a jacket, plaque, certificate and pin, all personalized with a special black and gold "Three Million Mile" logo.


Three Million Mile Driver Highlights from Community Transit on Vimeo.

Ray's photo will be featured on the sides of 10 Community Transit buses for the rest of 2018 to celebrate his accomplishment.

Thank you, Ray, for going the extra 3,000,000 miles!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Bringing You Home with Bikes and Buses: Real People. Real Stories.

Kelvin shares his story on the benefits of combining bikes and buses on his commute.

Bringing You Home with Bikes and Buses from Community Transit on Vimeo.

Do you want to commute by bus, but think that getting to and from the bus is just too much trouble? We get it. That first or last mile of the commute is always the hardest part of the trip to figure out. Instead of being dependent on your car, and being stuck in traffic, think beyond four wheels.

Remember how much fun it was to ride a bike as a kid? It's still fun! Adding a bike to your trip can make all the difference to having a commute you enjoy, without having to sacrifice your independence or flexibility. Meet Kelvin, who has found that combining bikes and buses shortens his commute and keeps his body healthy.

Kelvin used to commute exclusively by bike for many years from his home in Edmonds to his job at Edmonds Community College. A move to Stanwood several years ago transformed his commute into one that is truly multimodal. Each morning Kelvin drives his car to Stanwood Park & Ride and takes Route 422 to Lynnwood Park & Ride where he keeps his bike in a secure bike locker. From there he bikes to the college. Kelvin says by combining bikes and buses, he saves a significant amount of time, "In the morning it's about a 45 minute commute, a little longer heading home. If I was driving it would be an hour in the morning, and probably closer to two hours at night."

Wondering how Kelvin gets around if he needs to attend a meeting or run an errand? Why by bike and bus, of course! Only this time, he uses Swift Bus Rapid Transit. "If I have a meeting in Mukilteo, I can take the Swift bus up to Lincoln Station and from Lincoln Station hop on my bike and ride pretty quickly down Mukilteo Speedway. It's a very effective and efficient ride." Kelvin loves the innovative bike racks on the Swift, too, "You just roll the front wheel up this ramp and there's a shock absorber holder that comes down on the top of the wheel and it automatically locks it in place as you roll your front tire up the rack. They are quick and easy to use."

Using a bike locker means you won't have to worry about the bike racks being full. Kelvin says, "Community Transit has these beautiful, stainless steel lockers, they're very secure, it puts your bike out of the weather, it gives you a place to store your wet rain gear, your helmet and stuff that you need daily. Lockers are $60 a year which is very reasonable and it guarantees you a place to safely store your bike on a daily basis and that's given me flexibility."

Combining bikes and buses gives Kelvin 20 minutes of a great workout each day, without having to hit the gym, "I got into biking because I felt motivated to get healthier and wanted a little more exercise and biking is great exercise from the standpoint of cardio and just building energy, strength, and endurance. Incorporating it into the commute is a way of getting that daily without extending a day. I love having that as part of my commute."

Let us help make your commute happier and healthier by bringing you home with bikes and buses. For resources on how to use our bike racks, how to secure a bike locker, and trail maps of the area, visit www.communitytransit.org/bikes.

What part of your commute is holding you back? Are you excited to see if a bike may be the ticket to fun and flexibility?

Monday, April 30, 2018

Transit Instruction: Fostering Independence for People with Special Needs

Meet Kevin: Program Graduate

Transit Instruction Program Graduate from Community Transit on Vimeo.

Kevin turned 16 and decided to get in his father's car and drive. Trouble was, he didn't have a driver's license. He may never have one. Kevin is autistic. He is also fiercely independent. He just needed the tools to manifest this independence. Thankfully, his family found just the thing - Community Transit's Transit Instruction Program, which provided one-on-one training individualized for Kevin's needs.

After the driving attempt scare, Kevin's family realized that their son was determined to go out into the community on his own. Kevin's mother, Wendy, said, "He's not going to take no for an answer. He wants to go places on his own and do things on his own. We needed him to be successful in knowing how to do that and being safe while doing it."

Thankfully, Wendy had heard about our Transit Instruction Program and realized that now was the time to find out more. She shared how Kevin's teacher at Lynnwood High School encouraged her to give us a call, "I found a random number for Community Transit and said, 'My son's teacher said someone can teach special needs kids how to ride the bus; how do I find out about that?'" Wendy and her husband were so surprised this program existed, and that it would be free. We put her in touch with our program director and soon Kevin was on the road.

Kevin's family was excited, but also nervous. They realized that Kevin needed to learn more than just the logistics of riding the bus, he also needed to learn how to be safe. Wendy explained that her son if very trusting, has limited communication skills, and is quick to answer people in the affirmative. She was worried people would take advantage of this, "I knew he would be fine knowing where he was, but knowing how to interact with the community while he was by himself made me nervous. It was a really big obstacle for me, and she (Kevin's instructor, Christine) did a really good job of addressing that and holding on to him until she felt that he could deal with it and she gave him a lot of role playing type situations."

Like many nervous moms would do, Wendy followed the bus the first time Kevin went out on his own. He did great! "It hit me, he's okay. He had become capable with it and didn't need my help." Not only is she proud, Kevin is proud, too. The first time he went on the bus alone he went to the church where his father is an assistant pastor. As soon as he saw his dad, he exclaimed, "I did it MYSELF. I can now have my independence." Since then Kevin enjoys going to restaurants (Panda Express is his favorite), Half Priced Books, and the Lynnwood Pool. He has memorized the Bus Plus book, and knows all the stops for Routes 120 and 112.

Wendy knows as he matures, this independence will serve him well, and Community Transit will be part of his life as an adult, "As he becomes employed later to get to work, to get to and from by himself, and just the independence, the self-sufficiency to be able to do what he wants to do." His older sister, who also has special needs, has seen the independence Kevin has gained and how he can go places on his own without having to ask a parent. A little sibling rivalry was all it took for her to find the motivation to gain her own independence. She has just started the Transit Instruction Program herself!

Do you know someone with special needs who would benefit from our Transit Instruction Program? Visit www.communitytransit.org/transitinstruction or call (425) 348-2379.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Bringing You Home With Vanpool: Real People, Real Stories.

Shawn shares his story on the benefits of being a Vanpool rider


Bringing You Home with Vanpool from Community Transit on Vimeo.

You've seen them, the Community Transit vanpool vans, whizzing by you in the carpool lane. If you dread your commute each day, riding in a vanpool may be just the ticket for transforming your commute into one you actually enjoy. Meet Shawn, who joined his first vanpool ten years ago, relying on the service through graduate school and his professional life.

A vanpool is a group of 5-15 riders who commute to the same work place. Each vanpool van sets its own schedule and route. Fares are based on the size of the van and the daily mileage, and cover all gas, maintenance and insurance. Shawn's van seats 12 riders, though 15 riders take advantage of the service and rotate seats. By riding a van, not only are commuters saving money, they're saving space on the highway, which means saving the environment. Shawn says, "There are the obvious cost benefits, and avoiding the wear and tear on your own vehicle. And then there's the other benefit of doing something good for the environment, knowing that there's not 12 cars on the road and instead you're all combining into one."

Each day Shawn's round trip to and from work is about 50 miles and takes about 40 minutes. That's 40 minutes to carve out a little time in a busy life. How does Shawn spend his time? Reading, working, and, yes, napping. "Sometimes you get to take a nap. That's always a great thing, especially if you didn't get a good night's sleep. I have a little child and sometimes my sleep's not the best and you can catch up."

When you're not getting a little shut eye or catching up on work emails, you might be surprised at how commuting with coworkers helps you feel more connected to your community. "You get to meet a lot of people, people that you wouldn't normally have a conversation with. When I was going to school I found a lot of people that joined the van I then ran into in class. It helps make things feel a little bit smaller being in a big city like Seattle."

Shawn also enjoys the benefits of transit outside of work hours. "Occasionally I'll take the bus downtown. The price of parking has gotten pretty high. If there's a Mariners game it's anywhere from $30 - $40, and if you can take the bus you don't have to worry about that." Shawn and his wife also take their young child on bus outings, "When you don't have to worry about driving, you can all just be present with each other."

Let us make it easy for you to get to work and bring you home with Vanpool. Our Community Transit Vanpool Program coordinators provide support for group formation, driver orientation, vehicle maintenance and rider recruitment. In other words, when you're ready to take advantage of our vanpool program, they'll work hard to make it happen.

If you could get out from behind the wheel on your commute, what would you do with your free time?

Monday, March 19, 2018

Vanpool Commuter Saved Nearly $2,400 in 2017



Commuting from Lynnwood to Bellevue every day is no easy feat, but Kevin Crader has been doing it for 17 years without driving alone. His efforts save him thousands of dollars every year, and has twice earned him the title of Curb the Congestion Champion of the Quarter. 

Smart Commuter Rewards and Curb the Congestion are two Community Transit programs that target large employers and the most-congested corridors to reduce drive-alone trips. In 2017, these programs combined removed 338,047 drive-alone trips from our roads and prevented 7.2 million pounds of carbon dioxide from entering the air we breathe.

Smart Commuter Rewards is an incentive program that helps large businesses motivate employees to reduce their drive-alone trips to work.

Curb the Congestion promotes smart transportation options to residents and employees on six of Snohomish County’s most congested corridors. 

These innovative transportation demand management programs are offered in addition to Community Transit’s bus, vanpool and paratransit service to help reduce traffic congestion and pollution, and encourage healthy travel options.

Each quarter Community Transit recognizes standout participants who are dedicated to smart transportation choices. Congratulations to the award winners for the 4th Quarter of 2017!

Smart Commuter of the 4th Quarter 2017



Paul Grasser of Poulsbo reduces his commute-related stress by combining teleworking with transportation via ferry, bus and walking to get to his job at Premera in Mountlake Terrace.

Commuting this way has saved him time, money and stress for more than 21 years and he is proud of the example that he is setting for his environmentally conscious daughter. In 2017, Grasser saved 6,158 drive-alone miles, more than $1,500 and prevented 4,031 pounds of CO2 from entering our air.


Each quarter, participants in the Smart Commuter Rewards program who use a commute alternative an average of four days a week are eligible to submit a nomination for Smart Commuter of the Quarter. Four quarterly winners are selected by a group of Employee Transportation Coordinators who volunteer on the Community Transit Peer Advisory Board. That board also selects the Smart Commuter of the Year from the quarterly winners.

Curb the Congestion Champion of the 4th Quarter 2017


An advocate for transportation options, Kevin Crader has taken a bus or vanpool from his home in Lynnwood to his job at CH2M Hill in Bellevue for 17 years, and shares his positive experiences with his coworkers. 

Crader, who was honored as a Curb the Congestion Champion of the Quarter in 2016, says that commuting in this way allows him more time to focus on his family and his personal life, making him happier and less stressed. In 2017 he saved 7,356 drive-alone miles, almost $2,400 and prevented more than 6,000 pounds of CO2 from entering the air we breathe.

Watch Crader explain how he does it -- and why his fellow vanpoolers try not to be late... or maybe they do?

To learn more about how Community Transit’s transportation demand management programs work with individuals and businesses, and to start receiving rewards for your smart transportation choices, please visit www.communitytransit.org/programs/choice-connections.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Bringing You Home With Double Tall: Real People, Real Stories

Deedra shares her story on the benefits of being a Double Tall rider.

The view sure is amazing from the top of our Double Talls. When you’re out from behind the wheel, you can look out the windows beyond gridlock to see mountains, trees, and the Seattle skyline. The view inside a Double Tall is pretty great too. It’s clean and comfortable, with plenty of room to stretch out and breathe. Even better? It’s filled with potential friends, professional connections, and neighbors. Meet Deedra, who looks forward to her commute each day to connect with her community.

"I have sat upstairs before and yeah, the view is awesome. I’m so much more comfortable on this bus as far as leg room, and I don’t have to worry about the traffic. It’s stress free.” Deedra has been commuting from Snohomish County to downtown Seattle for 17 years, always taking Community Transit buses. In fact, Deedra has been riding our Double Tall buses since our first feet rolled out in 2011. That initial fleet of 23 buses has grown to 62, with 8 more anticipated later this year. That means even more opportunities to take in the view while everyone else is stuck in traffic.

Deedra’s commute from Silver Firs in Everett to South Lake Union takes less than an hour on a Double Tall, where it would take at least an hour and a half by car. What does she do with this free time to herself? She reads, naps, relaxes, and makes new friends. “When I take the Double Tall I usually end up talking to people I’ve met on my commute. I’ve met a lot of interesting people. I recognize them out and about in my community.” With professionals commuting to and from the downtown area, the Double Talls occasionally act as a networking bus, too. “Some of the connections I’ve made have helped people in their careers, or we talk about other aspects of our lives. We benefit from one another.”

The Double Tall not only saves time, it saves money. “The cost effectiveness is a huge advantage. I’m a single mom and I can avoid spending $24 in parking and money in gas.” Deedra drives 10-15 minutes to the Swamp Creek Park & Ride where she catches her Double Tall. “I take my daughter to school in the morning, so I tend to take any bus that’s after 8:00 am. Coming down to Swamp Creek is easy and I can always find a parking spot. There’s always a Double Tall to take so I’m never going to miss my commute.”

Enjoy a comfortable commute while we bring you home with Double Tall. Find a Double Tall on routes serving Everett, Lynnwood, Edmonds, Mukilteo, and Marysville.

 How would you use your free time on the Double Tall? Would you enjoy the opportunity to disconnect from others and just relax, or would you be inspired to connect, maybe striking up a conversation with someone new? 

Bringing You Home from Community Transit on Vimeo.