Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Board Continues Consideration of Service Cut Alternatives

The Community Transit Board of Directors met July 21 to discuss the 2012 system change alternatives and go over public comment that was received since June 3.

The board is expected to make a decision on a final plan no later than September 1. Once a decision is made there will be a great deal of work required to implement the changes. New maps and schedules will need to be developed, necessary staffing levels must be determined and a major public education effort will take place before the service change occurs in February 2012.

The July 21 workshop featured several presentations and a lively discussion that did not arrive at any consensus as to what the final service plan will be.
Board members asked questions and raised concerns brought up by various riders under each of the alternatives, most notably Alternative III which revises the route network for local and commuter riders.

Public comment

More than 1,800 comments were received since the alternatives went public on June 3. A majority of those comments came through the online form that asked eight questions and included an opportunity for open-ended comments.

A couple of key highlights were that 57 percent of respondents said they did not want minimal Sunday service at the expense of deeper cuts the rest of the week, while 26 percent said they wanted the Sunday service. Given that more commuters filled out the comment form than local riders, it is not surprising that Sunday service did not get more support. Many commuters do not ride the bus on weekends and indicated they did not favor further cuts to support minimal Sunday service.

Among local riders who filled out the form, 54 percent answered yes, that they want minimal Sunday service. Thirty-four percent said no, while 8 percent indicated no opinion.

Of the three alternatives, I and II keep the current route network with reduced trips. The difference between those options is that Alternative II includes minimal Sunday service with greater trip reductions weekdays and especially on Saturdays. Alternative III reworks the route network, preserving more trips but causing different travel patterns and, in some cases, more transfers and longer trips.

Asked to rank the alternatives, 45 percent of all respondents chose I as their first choice, 33 percent chose II as their first choice and 28 percent chose III as their first choice. Among local riders, the alternatives ranked II, I, III, while among commuter riders the alternatives ranked I, III, II.

Further summary of the public comments is posted on the 2012 System Change page.
Next steps

While the board did not direct staff toward any particular alternative, board members asked many questions of staff and debated amongst themselves over the principle options of minimal Sunday service or not, and reworking either the local or commuter network as proposed in Alternative III. Several board member questions asked whether there could be a hybridization of alternatives, to which staff answered yes, to some degree.

The board members are continuing their personal consideration of alternatives and review of the comments and will be passing their thoughts along to staff.

Discussion is likely to continue at the regular monthly board meeting on Aug. 4. As always, public comment is taken at the beginning of each board meeting.

Again, once a decision is made none of the changes will be effective until February 2012. Before that time, details of the final service plan will be available on the website and there will be lots of outreach to inform customers of the changes ahead of time.

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