Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Agency Employees Volunteer Support for Kids in Transition

Students without a guardian and experiencing homelessness have difficulty connecting with needed support during the winter break from school. While other students look forward to time off from classes, these kids experience time off from the security of a warm building, support programs, and predictable meal times.

Everett Public Schools’ Kids in Transition (KIT) program helps homeless youth attend school without barriers or interruption. The KIT program identifies students experiencing homelessness and are unaccompanied by a parent or guardian. 

This holiday season, for the fourth year in a row, Community Transit and DSHS employees organized a Giving Tree program to gather donated gifts for KIT students. Employees took tags from “giving trees” located in shared workspaces and purchased items listed on the tags, including gifts, warm clothing and hygiene items.

The backpacks filled with gifts and other items were delivered to high school counselors so each KIT student would receive a backpack just before leaving for winter break.

Kelly Shepherd, Sequoia High School principal, explained that some of these kids have never had presents to open during the holidays.

According to Shepherd, students return from break and share details with their counselors about the gifts they received in their backpack. “This is such a huge impact in their lives,” Shepherd said. Sometimes students have a hard time believing the gift and hygiene necessities are for them.

Community Transit's Giving Tree program has been going since 2010, and every year employees look forward to contributing and volunteering, affirming two of Community Transit’s Core Values:
Teamwork: Agency employees worked together on lunch breaks and off-hours to purchase items and wrap gifts for the Giving Tree program to benefit KIT students. 
Equity and Inclusion: The Giving Tree donations were provided to vulnerable teens in our community dealing with challenges accessing resources. Employees wanted the teens to have the same opportunity as other students to experience holiday cheer, regardless of their living situation.

This year, agency employees provided 118 backpacks filled with wrapped gifts, including $25 gift cards. Additional hygiene items were donated and will be stored in the counselors’ offices to be used throughout the year.

Some of the backpacks were delivered to Everett Public Schools’ Community Resource Center where Community Transit employees met with KIT Coordinator Amy Perusse. “It’s amazing how these backpacks make such a difference for these students; it really does take a village,” Perusse said.

The “village” that worked together on the Giving Tree program in 2019 included Community Transit employees and:
  •         Washington Kids in Transition
  •         Lance Lewis, Everett DSHS CSO / Office Manager
  •         Kellie Bjerkaker, Everett DSHS / CSO Administrator
  •         Allen Shields, RMR Group / Property Manager
  •         South King County Firefighters Foundation
  •         Loma Hair Care
  •         Everett High School Blue & Gold Club

Almost 400 backpacks have been provided to KIT students over the four years that the Giving Tree partnership has benefited Everett School District's KIT program.

Friday, November 29, 2019

An Ode to Swift as It Turns 10

The connections Swift has made over the past 10 years goes beyond stops and stations, home-work-school. It connects people.
Margaret continues to use Swift in retirement fo
recreational, multi-modal trips on her bike.
Margaret Elwood is a big fan of Swift, our bus rapid transit service. She was on the inaugural Swift Blue Line ride 10 years ago today! If Margaret seems familiar to you, she has been a long-time fan of Swift and has written several poems about it. You can read them on our blog at http://bit.ly/MargaretOdestoSwift.
She has commemorated past Swift anniversaries with poems and even shared a birthday song on our video gallery. We couldn't let our 10th anniversary pass without an ode from Margaret:

Swift service is now 10 years old! I was on that first trip when it rolled.Reliable, swift, Always there with a lift,Your standard for service is GOLD!

Margaret, who lives in Edmonds worked as a Technical Training Administrator for the PUD in Everett, using her bike as part of her Swift commute. Today, she is retired, but still uses Swift for recreational, multi-modal trips with her bike. 
Margaret, thank you! We're glad Swift continues to play a part of your commute.

Pictured (right) is Margaret and Steve. They were both on the inaugural Swift Blue Line ride 10 years ago today (November 29, 2019)!
Steve is one of our coach operators. He just happened to be driving Swift when Margaret went out to have her husband snap a pic of her a couple days ago. Meant to be!
So, let's hear it for Swift connections of the past and for those to come as the network grows. #Swift10

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Ride Swift to get to great community eats!

Our communities are filled with delicious and diverse places to eat. Being a new transit industry employee, who also enjoys exploring local food options, I wanted to explore what routes would get customers to some local highly-rated food options!

Since November marks the 10-year anniversary of Community Transit’s Swift Bus Rapid Transit service, I focused on the Swift Blue and Green lines, which currently serve six different cities in Snohomish County.

Check out my list of restaurants, cafes, and quick dining options below! Every location is within a 10-minute walk (approximately a half mile) of a Swift station.

Did I miss one of your favorite local spots? Please leave me a comment and I’ll update this post!

An interactive map is available here.

Swift Blue – South of Airport Rd. 

Hosoonyi Korean: Award-winning food writer and radio personality Nancy Leson, also a Snohomish County resident, has been eating here for 20 years! Serves Korean BBQ, soups, rice bowls and stir fries. Located next to the 238th St stations. 

Dick's Drive-In: The only Dick's location outside of King County is in Edmonds, just south of Swift Blue Line's 216th St SW stop. Deluxe, fries, and a chocolate shake, please! 

Chug’s Root Beer: If you love root beer, like REALLY love, then Chug's is for you: over 100 brands of root beer and 300 types of soda. A 5-minute walk from the southbound College (204th Street SW) station. 

Tubs Subs: Hearty sandwiches on thick bread that include the classics as well as new creations. A 10-minute walk from the Cherry Hill and International stations at 176th St SW. 

Swift Blue line passing Dick's in Edmonds

Swift Blue – North of Airport Rd. 

Yummy Bahn Mi: Highly-rated Vietnamese sandwiches, pho, and bubble tea! A 4-minute walk from the Colby Ave and Wetmore Ave stations. https://yummy-banh-mi.business.site/
Gyros Plus: Greek and Middle Eastern cuisine just north of the Casino Rd stations. 

Nick's Jr: Creative burgers and sides a 4-minute walk from Pecks Dr southbound station, or 10 minutes from Madison St northbound station. 

Bento Factory: Wide-ranging Japanese menu including sushi and a few Korean dishes. A 5-minute walk from the Colby Ave and Wetmore Ave stations. 

A Pizza House: Serving pizza, pasta, salads and calzone for more than 15 years in downtown Everett. Just 9 minutes north of the Colby Ave and Wetmore Ave stations. 

Botan Ramen: Variety of ramen and Japanese options, including combos and lunch specials. A 6-minute walk from the Colby Ave and Wetmore Ave stations. 

Narrative Coffee Co.: Delicious coffee creations and brunch food just a 3-minute walk from the Colby Ave and Wetmore Ave stations. 

Cafe Wylde: Vegan food with a juice and smoothie bar! A 5-minute walk from the Colby Ave and Wetmore Ave stations. 

French Toast at Narrative Coffee Co.

Swift Green South – South of 132nd

Sushi Zen: 40 different types of creative sushi rolls as well as more traditional Japanese offerings. Located next to the 16th Ave SE station. 

McMenamins: Their northern-most location is next to the 16th Ave SE station. If you're trying to collect passport stamps, don't forget that Swift Lines have bike racks!  

BMG Thai: Extensive Thai and Southeast Asian menu featuring noodle, rice, soup, salad, and curry dishes. A 5-minute walk from the 164th St SE stations. 

Azul: Latin American bistro that also is open for brunch on the weekends. A 4-minute walk from the 153rd St SE stations. 

Ezell's Famous Chicken: Classic house-made fried chicken, comfort-food sides, and desserts. Located 1-minute south of the 180th St SE stations. 

Samburna: Authentic south Indian cuisine located next to the 208th St SE stations. 

Swift Green North – North of 132nd 

Katya's Bakery: Sweets, baked goods, coffee, and custom cakes. A 4-minute walk from the 4th Ave W station. 

Shawn O’Donnel’s American Grill Irish Pub: Locally-owned and serving burgers, sandwiches and wraps, salads, as well as traditional Irish mains and sides. A 2-minute walk from the 3rd Ave SE stations. 

La Palmera: A variety of Mexican food options with lunch specials from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Accessible from both the Swift Blue and Green lines at Airport Rd. 

Don't forget that you can take Swift to access the passenger terminal at Paine Field! A Caffe Vita coffee and pastry bar serves passengers and the public next to baggage claim, while a Beecher's Handmade Cheese cafe serves sandwiches and other cheese-centric foods in the departures terminal.

Those are a few of my picks, what are your favorites? What other non-work destinations do you get to along the Swift lines?

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Urban Hikes by Bus: Community, Exercise, Excursions

Public transportation helps foster a sense of community and is a great way to get exercise. Last summer, a group of Mill Creek senior citizens began learning how to ride Swift Green Line as a way to create community and be active at the same time.

Swift Green Line, Community Transit’s second bus rapid transit line, started service in March, 2019. The line runs between Seaway Transit Center and Canyon Park Park & Ride, serving the communities of south Everett, Mill Creek, and Bothell. Since March, many residents of Mill Creek have had the opportunity to step on a Swift bus for the first time.

Community Transit Board Member and Mill Creek City Council Member Mike Todd recognized that learning to ride the bus could be a barrier to using public transit for some members in the community. There’s also an additional learning curve to understand the difference between regular bus service and Swift bus service. To address this, Todd worked with the Mill Creek Senior Center to develop a program called Urban Hikes by Bus.

“I really wanted to get folks out and about to learn to use public transit, go on local excursions, and see local sights,” Todd said.

Swift buses arrive every 10 minutes on weekdays, and every 15-20 minutes on evenings and weekends. Todd naturally thought of Swift as a way to help senior citizens get out in their communities for moderate group exercise. “Typically, the excursions include a nature walk that is approximately two miles,” Todd said.

Last month, Todd led an excursion from the Mill Creek Retirement Community via Swift bus to the Narbeck Wetland Sanctuary just north of Seaway Transit Center. The public educational park has short nature trails with interpretive signs that tell about wetlands and wildlife. The group hiked two trails, which included about two miles of moderate walking, and ended with a picnic lunch.

The next excursion will be to the Northwest Stream Center at McCollum Pioneer Park on Friday, Nov. 15 from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Anyone is welcome to attend as long as they are able to engage in moderate activity. Admission to the Northwest Stream Center is $6 for seniors. Adult bus fare is $2.50 each way; seniors with a Regional Reduced Fare Permit ORCA card pay $1.25 for each bus trip.

The group will meet at the Mill Creek Retirement Community parking lot at 14905 Bothell Everett Hwy, in Mill Creek. From the parking lot, it’s about an eight minute walk to the Swift Green Line station on Bothell-Everett Hwy at 153rd Street. A sack lunch will be provided for those who register in advance.

To learn more, call (425) 948-7170 or e-mail millcreekadmin@mynorthshore.org and ask about the next Urban Hike.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Community Transit Statement on I-976

We have been asked what the effects of I-976 might be to Community Transit. While Community Transit does not directly receive car tab funding, we do receive some state funding that could be impacted. Here is an analysis:

Analysis of Potential Initiative 976 Impacts on Community Transit
October 1, 2019

According to the Washington State Office of Financial Management*, it is estimated that passage of Initiative 976 would remove more than $1.9 billion in Washington State transportation funding over the next six years, including a nearly $1.5 billion impact to the Multimodal Transportation Account. Transit grant funding from that account will be at risk.

Funding that has been awarded to Community Transit from this Multimodal Transportation Account includes:

·         $416,000 in grant funding to support our Commute Trip Reduction (CTR) program in the 2019-2021 biennium. Through the Commute Trip Reduction program, Community Transit works with major employers in Snohomish County to reduce traffic congestion by providing alternative commuter options for employees.

·         $1.7M in special needs transit grants in the 2019-2021 biennium. Community Transit’s special needs programs allow us to provide transportation services for people who may not have access to transportation due to age, income and disability.

·         $5 million in Regional Mobility Grant funds for Swift Green Line operations.

·         $10M to support future Swift bus rapid transit projects through the Connecting Washington funding package.

Future funding from Special Needs Transportation, Commute Trip Reduction, Vanpool Investment and Regional Mobility Grant program are also at risk for reductions in funding if Initiative 976 passes. Community Transit has assumed $26.2 million dollars from state grant funding through 2025 for projects that maintain our system and expand service for our customers.

It is worth noting that it is challenging to predict the full and final effects of the initiative because implementation of the initiative will rely on future decisions made by the legislature and the resolution of any potential legal challenges.