Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Prepare for Winter Weather
by Tom Pearce, Public Information Specialist
Perhaps you’ve heard that “a butterfly flaps its wings in China, and it rains in Brazil.” That’s how it is for Community Transit when it comes to snow.
We cover 1,300 square miles of Snohomish County. That can mean some long trips, like Route 201 between Smokey Point and Lynnwood. Snow throws a wrench in the works. We’ve seen days with six inches of snow north of Marysville and none in south county. So the bus starting at Smokey Point needs chains and is delayed. As it moves out of the snow zone, the chains need to come off. More delays. And in the end, people in Lynnwood are wondering, “Why is our bus late?”
That’s why we post Rider Alerts on our website when snow is expected. The first alert may be a general warning. Once the flakes fly, we’re on it, day and night. If snow falls overnight, we post our first alert by 5 a.m. and continue throughout the day into the evening. Every time something changes in local service, we post an alert. For commuters, there’s the 5 a.m. alert followed by a report by 2 p.m. outlining the evening commute. By 8 p.m. we have a forecast for the following morning’s commute, when we’re back at it with a more detailed 5 a.m. report.
We also offer an electronic alert system that sends notices by email or text. We'll send the same general alert out to all subscribers as we post on the website, but if your route's routing or schedule changes during the day we'll let you know.
The addition of 23 double decker buses to our commuter fleet should improve service in the snow. These Double Talls replaced our oldest 60-foot articulated buses. The 42-foot Double Talls can operate like any standard bus in slippery conditions. Artics can jack-knife easily when it’s icy, so the few times a year we get snow, we often pull them from service. That’s also why on snowy days you may see regular 30-or 40-foot buses running on Swift.
If it does snow, check our website for major delays before you head out. Dress warmly, because buses likely will be delayed if snow is sticking to the roads. And remember, just because it’s not sticking in your neighborhood, it may be elsewhere. Check to see if we’re on a reroute, or try to get to main roads, where service can operate more easily. If your stop is on a hill, wait at the top or bottom of the hill and flag down the driver; buses can be hard to stop or start mid-hill when it’s icy.
We’re ready for winter weather at Community Transit. If it snows, we want you to feel comfortable that you can rely on the bus to get you where you need to go.