Thursday, April 26, 2012

"How Do I... ?" Watch and Learn.

by Karen Johnson, Design/Video Supervisor

Riders call us with lots of good questions.

“How do I catch a Swift bus?”
“What are my options for getting to Alderwood?”
“How do I load my bike on a bus?”

To provide another resource for our customers, Community Transit is creating Instructional Video Shorts for our website. These videos are about two minutes or less, and you'll be able to find them on our YouTube channel, in our Video Gallery and on topic-specific pages.

Video Shorts are easy to watch, with step-by-step instructions. Our first video short, “How to Use Our Trip Planner,” will show you how easy it is to plan your trip. Other topics you’ll find in the coming months include:

- How to Use Swift
- How to Buy Swift Tickets
- Riding The Double Tall
- Reading Schedules and Maps
- Bikes on Buses
- Transit Instruction Program

Our Customer Information Services division helps select the subject matter for our Instructional Video Shorts based on the questions they hear from riders. And the CIS staff is always available with personalized help for customers at (425) 353-RIDE (7433).

We’re always interested in more ways to help our customers. What are your ideas?
Can you suggest a topic that we should consider for our next quick instructional video?

Watch the video

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

New Cabela's Store Could Boost Transit Revenues

The central element of Community Transit's financial woes the past five years has been the reduced level of sales tax revenue in our service district. It's not rocket science -- when the economy sours and people lose their jobs or fear for losing their jobs, they hold onto to their money and put off purchases, especially big-ticket items like homes, cars, boats, etc. The items that people do keep buying, groceries and food, are exempt from sales tax or generate little tax revenue.

So it's good news when a new major retailer opens in the district, as Cabela's will be doing with its Tulalip store on April 19. Quil Ceda Village, with its Seattle Premium Outlet mall, Tulalip Resort Casino and big boxes like Home Depot and Walmart, has been a strong economic force during the recession. The opening of a large store like Cabela's can help stimulate the economic recovery in Snohomish County.

Customers can also get to Cabela's, and other Quil Ceda destinations, on Community Transit. Route 222 goes through Quil Ceda Village and has its northernmost stop between the casino and outlet mall. Riders can connect with Route 222 in Marysville at State & 88th from Routes 201/202, which serve Smokey Point, Everett and Lynnwood, or plan their trips online.

Our Buy Local for Transit campaign encourages residents to keep their shopping dollars in the county. That, in turn, helps the bottom line for Community Transit as well as local cities and businesses.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

State Legislature Adjourns with No Transit Funding Bill

The State Legislature concluded its second special session of the year this morning after approving a supplemental budget and several other bills. Left on the floor was Senate Bill 6582, which would have given authority to counties, and possibly transit agencies, to seek voter approval of a motor vehicle excise tax (MVET) for transportation needs.

The bill existed in many forms throughout the sessions this year. In the end, it would have allowed counties to seek voter approval of an MVET up to 1 percent of a vehicle's value at registration. The county would have had to talk with local cities and transit agencies about how that money would be used. If the county did not seek the funding, the local transit agency could seek approval for up to 0.5 percent of a vehicle's value. That option could have created as much as $15 million a year in new funding for Community Transit, if approved by voters.

Last month, a letter was circulated to legislators urging passage of the bill, signed by all members of the Snohomish County Council as well as regional elected officials and business leaders. Community Transit will continue to push for additional state funding leading up to the next session which begins in January 2013.

For now, Community Transit's new funding will be coming from increased sales tax revenues as the economy recovers. Go Buy Local for Transit!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Post-Service Change Adjustments

The February 2012 service change was massive in scope not just because it reduced our bus service by 20 percent, but also because the local service network was redesigned. With such a huge change in the system, it was inevitable that some adjustments would be needed.

A couple weeks ago, the agency made adjustments to the Route 113 schedule to improve connections between buses and ferries in Mukilteo. It took several weeks to design a change that didn’t carry too many impacts down the line, then get the change out to drivers and customers.

On April 9, several other adjustments will take place.

Route 196 afternoon and evening buses between Edmonds and Alderwood will start five minutes later to help get trips on schedule. Behind-the-scenes, some driver work will change as part of this adjustment. Our hope is that these changes will help this new route stay on schedule on trips that have been notoriously behind schedule since the new route started in February.

In Bothell, Route 435 will hold at Canyon Park for up to five minutes in the morning to allow for incoming Route 105/106 and 120 buses to make that connection to downtown Seattle. This means customers already on board will have to wait a bit longer, but this is a connection that was supposed to happen and has been hit-and-miss in reality.

On Route 120, an early afternoon adjustment in how drivers switch off will help to keep more trips on schedule. This is an example of making changes in off-service work that positively affects the in-service experience.

When these changes go into effect next week, 82 weekday trips and 31 Saturday trips will have been adjusted since the Feb. 20 service change.

Our Planning and Transportation staff continue to monitor other trips and routes to see where improvements can be made to the massive February service change. It’s likely there may be more adjustments coming in June and September.

The challenge is to allow enough time for drivers and customers to adjust to the initial changes, then track schedules over a period of time long enough to tell us that late trips or missed connections are truly a systemic problem, not something that changes from day to day.

Without money for new service hours, the next step is to find ways to adjust driver work or make minor tweaks to the schedule that can improve the customer experience. And, of course, the laws of transit dictate that every action has an unintended consequence; when you start tweaking schedules you start impacting the travel of those who have found a way to make the system work for them. We want to keep those downstream impacts to a minimum.

As more adjustments are made, we’ll discuss them here, and send out announcements through rider alerts. Sign up for our electronic alerts if you haven’t already.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Route 196 Schedule Adjustments

By Tom Pearce, Public Information Specialist

Since the February service change, we’ve been listening to customers and tracking service to see where things haven’t quite worked out. With that in mind, starting Monday, April 9, there will be changes to the Route 196 schedule.

On that date, all Route 196 trips in both directions that start after 2:40 p.m. will begin five minutes later. This adjustment, combined with a change to the way drivers’ work is configured, will help keep these buses on schedule the rest of the day.

The new Route 196 schedules will be posted at each stop by Monday, April 9. Meanwhile, the new schedules have already been posted online and are loaded into our Trip Planner so trips can be planned for after April 9.

Route 196 is a new route offering all-day half-hour service between the Alderwood mall area and Edmonds waterfront. The route is averaging more than 500 riders a day, which is very good for a new route. So far, this route has suffered from late trips in the afternoon and a lack of stops around the Lynnwood Civic Center/Lynnwood Transit Center area. We continue to work with Lynnwood officials on the bus stop issue.