Friday, April 29, 2011

Bus Supervisors Know Routes, Roads and Hills

Dana Osborn knows every road, every hill, every bus stop in Snohomish County.

You think I am exaggerating.

Dana has worked for Community Transit for 19 years. In his current job as transportation supervisor in charge of construction, he devises the reroutes and rider alerts needed when buses must avoid road work or special events.

When snow falls, a whole team of people come up with the reroutes needed to keep the buses moving. But it is Dana who recently wrote down the entire list of all the regular reroutes used during snow to avoid the known hills and hazards of Snohomish County. Hopefully we won't be needing that list for awhile.

Transit Values Exercise: Making Tough Choices

Community Transit continues to be impacted by the recession. Due to low sales tax revenues, the agency has been forced to cut service and restructure itself for an uncertain future economy.

As Community Transit considers the future, we are involving the public in our visioning process. CEO Joyce Eleanor hosted several public workshops involving a Transit Values Exercise that allows participants to walk in the shoes of transit planners and decision-makers.

Their task: to cut costs by 20 percent while prioritizing the kind of transit service they value most. The exercise is based on a fictional transit agency, but the data and the choices are real.

After the exercise, participants shared their thoughts on the process and the tough decisions facing Community Transit's leaders.

Monday, April 25, 2011

May is Bike Month – celebrate by cycling!

Spring is in the air (hopefully!?) and bicycles are taking to the streets. Sure, there are plenty of die-hard cyclists in this soggy region who bike year-round. But for the rest of us mortals, May marks the annual Bike Month when we’re inspired to dust off our bikes, tune up the tires and hit the roads.

This year, National Bike to Work Day will be held on Friday, May 20. You’ll find Celebration Stations set up all over the Puget Sound region, where bicycle commuters can stop by for healthy snacks, bike safety checks and some cyclist camaraderie. Community Transit has participated in Bike to Work Day events in Snohomish County since 2001, partnering with Everett Transit as part of both agencies’ commitment to helping businesses reduce employee drive-alone trips. The 2011 Bike to Work Day will see nine Celebration Stations around the county – find the one nearest your home or your workplace.

Community Transit also hosts the annual Bike Commute Challenge, presented this year by B.I.K.E.S. Club of Snohomish County.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Transit Values Exercise gets at vision, values

Just a week ago Thursday, CEO Joyce Eleanor announced Community Transit will have to cut service 20 percent in 2012. The word got out fast. At a transit values exercise on Saturday, nearly every person in the room raised their hand when Joyce asked if they had heard the news. (The others quickly turned to the person next to them and said, “They’re doing what?”)
Ninety people participated in the four transit values exercises held this month. Gearing up for these public sessions, the exercise had been conducted on about 150 employees as it was being developed in February and March.
The exercise is not about deciding which routes to cut or save, it is about the trade-offs that go into cutting service. For instance, if you cut bus frequencies you’re also going to cut ridership. If you want high efficiency you’re going to have to cut geographic coverage.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Driving Is An Expensive Choice

I went shopping at REI this weekend to spend my dividend and use my discount, along with thousands of other members and shoppers. We started at the Alderwood REI, but soon confirmed that we needed more choices. We had brought our ORCA cards just in case we wanted to take Sound Transit to the downtown Seattle REI.

Just as we were heading to Lynnwood Transit Center, one of those spring squalls passed through. We decided to drive to Seattle instead.

It was an expensive choice.

Friday, April 8, 2011

A Bad News Day

It was a bad news day for CommunityTransit, and our riders. CEO Joyce Eleanor hosted a press conference yesterday to describe the agency’s financial situation and the necessity for significant budget cuts in 2012.

You can read her full speech on our website – and probably saw parts of it on the evening news.

This is just the beginning of a long process to develop service alternatives (going on right now), get public input on them in June, host a public hearing before our board in July and get a final decision from the board in September. The cuts themselves won’t take place until February 2012.

Other transit agencies in Washington are facing similar financial woes due to the recession.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Edmonds Students Join the ORCA Tap Dance

Edmonds Community College has partnered with Community Transit to provide bus pass benefits to students for more than 15 years.

The student government pays Community Transit based on EdPass usage, and the percentage of students getting the transit sticker hit all-time highs in the 2009-2010 academic year – an average of 71% of full-time equivalent students. To keep from breaking the bank and to share the costs a bit, a quarterly fee of $15 per pass was imposed last fall for the first time (the value of the unlimited pass is at least 10 times that). Despite the small cost, 2,828 Edmonds students purchased an EdPass bus sticker last fall.

The popular program takes another new twist this quarter. The EdPass bus benefit is now powered by ORCA.