Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Taking the Bus to the Fair

The Evergreen State Fair starts on Aug. 23 and runs through Labor Day, Sept. 3.

Taking the bus is a fun and sometimes convenient way to get there, especially if you hate dealing with the parking situation. All Monroe routes serve the west gate entrance to the fair.

Bus service to the fair has changed over the years as the agency has cut back its bus service overall. Only a few years ago, Community Transit used to put extra buses on fair routes to handle the increased demand. People who typically never ride the bus often take the bus to the fair. Lower revenues put an end to the extra service; changes in regular service have also altered bus service to the fair.

This year, service for those coming west from Gold Bar and Sultan will involve a transfer at Chain Lake Road in the mid-days and on Saturdays. These riders will benefit from using an ORCA card with its two-hour transfer value.

People who have traditionally parked at the Snohomish Park & Ride to catch the bus to the fair will have to walk about two blocks out to Avenue D. That change, taking Routes 270 and 275 out of the park & ride, took place with the June 2010 service cuts.

Then, of course, there is no bus service on Sundays and major holidays, including Labor Day, the last, and often most crowded day of the fair. That was another cut from 2010, and one that particularly surprises irregular customers.

While the service cuts over the years were made with the entire bus network in mind, the fair takes place two weeks out of the year in one of the county's smaller cities. The good news is that Highway 2 has pretty good bus service - every 30 minutes in peak hours and hourly the rest of the day and Saturdays (from Everett) - and the special stop at the fair's entrance does provide a perk that bus riders have over drivers.

Either way you get to the fair, you're going to get stuck in traffic. At least on the bus you can relax and watch others honk their horns.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Proposed February 2013 Service Changes

Community Transit is now taking comment on proposed changes that would take effect in February 2013. The changes continue to adjust the service network that was restructured in February 2012, plus there are additional commuter trips thanks to federal and state funding.

Details of the proposal are on the Community Transit website. In a nutshell, Route 112 will serve the Lynnwood Transit Center, Route 417 will move off 44th Ave W and travel on I-5 to 196th Street, and Route 885 will be eliminated, with all three of those trips converted to Route 880.

Thanks to a federal CMAQ (Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality) grant, and a new state transit fund, Community Transit will add 30 commuter trips between south Snohomish County and downtown Seattle and UW. The trips have not yet been determined, but they will be placed where passenger demand is highest, some in the a.m., some in the p.m. While the agency had not anticipated adding service because of the slow economic recovery, there is no local money being spent for these trips. The CMAQ grant is for three years; it is hoped that in that time sales tax revenues will have rebounded enough so this service can be funded by local revenue.

Public comment on these changes is being taken through Sept. 7. The Board of Directors will hold a public hearing on the proposal at 3 p.m. Sept. 6 at 7100 Hardeson Rd in Everett.