Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Reaching Out Where Riders Are

Throughout June, Community Transit salaried staff (they don’t get paid for extra time) have been out talking to riders about the three service alternatives for the 2012 system change.

We’ve blogged about the five open house meetings (which attracted 166 people) and the online comment form (more than 1,400 and counting), but the numbers of riders we’ve reached through our rider forums far exceeds those totals.

The point of a rider forum is to go where the bus riders are: park & rides, transit centers and on board buses. People at these locations are most interested in getting to where they need to go, so the length and quality of conversation is not always great, but you reach a lot of people.

In the 16 rider forums we’ve held so far (last one is tomorrow at McCollum Park), we’ve talked with more than 3,400 bus riders. “Talked with” can range from a quick jump on a bus to announce that “Community Transit is planning to cut service by 20 percent in 2012 and we’re taking public comment this month. The brochure is here on the bus, you can go to our website for full details and we’re holding open house meetings so you can learn more,” all the way to a 20-minute conversation with a rider who arrived early for her bus.

In all, staff spent about 55 hours at these forums (again, no overtime). We handed out the 2012 System Change Alternatives brochure, Important News (our onboard newsletter) and hard copy comment cards. We also carried a printout of the route-by-route matrix that tells how each route is impacted under each of the three alternatives so we could have some good back-and-forth when time permitted.

Our goal this month was to raise awareness of the pending service cuts and encourage people to participate in the public comment process. That process runs through July 11, with a public hearing before the Board of Directors at 5 p.m. July 7 at the Rosehill Community Center in Mukilteo. While our brochure says the hearing will run from 5 – 8:30 p.m., board members will remain until each person present has had a chance to comment.

We’ll have more on the hearing next week.

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