Wednesday, December 17, 2014

It's Lovely Weather for a Swift Ride Together With You

In the spirit of the holidays, celebrating Swift's 5th Anniversary and, of course, Santa Swift, here's a little ditty about a bus rapid transit system near and dear to Community Transit's heart, sung to the tune of Sleigh Ride.

Picture of Swift Coach Operator wearing Santa Hat
Santa Swift, aka Swift Coach Operator Phil, has the holiday spirit.
Swift Ride 
Just hear those Swift signs chiming
Departure time's glowing it’s “Due”
Come on it’s lovely weather
For a Swift ride together with you 
Outside the traffic’s building
Lone drivers are crying “Boo Hoo”
Come on it’s lovely weather
For a Swift ride together with you 
Swipe your card, buy a ticket, get aboard-- let’s go
Let’s look at the glow
Of storefronts blurring (Swift's not slow) 
Swipe your card, buy a ticket, get aboard-- Swift's planned
We're in capable hands
It's gliding along—can’t go wrong
Swift's the fastest BRT in the land

Just hear those Swift signs chiming
Departure time's glowing it’s “Due”
Come on it’s lovely weather
for a Swift ride together with you

Has this inspired you to create an altered holiday classic of your own? Share your lyrics with us in the comments, but let’s be family friendly lest Santa give you a lump of coal. :)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A Day in the Life of Swift's Ambassadors

10 hours on your feet. 10 seconds between buses, hopping on and off. More than 12,000 average fare checks a month.*

Welcome to the world of the Swift Ambassador.

Recently, I shadowed two of our three Swift Ambassadors to get a glimpse of their workday on Community Transit’s highest ridership route. This, and an interview or two gave me a taste of what the job is like, along with some tips for riding on Swift shared below.

"Don’t Forget to Wear Comfortable shoes!”

Swift Ambassadors 2014
That’s the advice I got from Will and Mario when we planned our meet-up at the Swift station on northbound 148th and Hwy 99. While I wasn’t planning on wearing high heels (geez, guys, give me some credit), it’s sound advice whenever you’re taking public transportation.

For three hours, Mario and I got on and off the bus at several Swift stations between 148th and Casino Road (between North Lynnwood and South Everett). Fare enforcement probably comes to mind when you think about what Ambassadors do, but there is more to their job than that.

“Swift Ambassadors are 'Customer Service First',” says Mario. “Under that umbrella is fare enforcement, payment education, etc.”

On this particular day:
Ambassadors & Transit Police often work together on the Swift line.
  • Each station we visited got a quick once over to make sure ticket machines and ORCA scanners were up and running. If there’s garbage, it’s picked up. It’s rare to see a messy Swift station. Now you know why.
  • Swift stations are notorious for serving as shopping cart parking. Those had to be moved to a safer spot so at not to roll out onto traffic.
  • Hugs. As we were riding northbound and picked up folks at the 112th St. Station, a regular passenger recognized Mario and gave him a big hug hello as she boarded. She was a tiny, older lady wearing a pink baseball hat giving a big ole bear hug to a man almost two feet taller than she.
  • There’s a learning curve when it comes to using Swift for the first time. A passenger at the Airport Road Station was a little lost and needed direction on where to go. When you are a Swift Ambassador, you are a walking BusPlus book. A friendly one, at that.
  • I witnessed firsthand the friendly interaction and the smooth handoff between Ambassadors and Transit Police. Whether a fare hasn’t been paid or a passenger has an outstanding warrant (you’d be surprised how many our Ambassadors have uncovered when doing a fare check), passengers are treated with courtesy and respect.

In their own words

On what they like most about their job.
“Some might be surprised, but the best part of my job, honestly, is the people. While a few angry or disgruntled passengers might make the day seem a little longer, the vast majority are decent people who appreciate the ride and the work we do,” – Ambassador Nick

“I like the overall diversity of the passengers I encounter daily onboard Swift.” – Ambassador Mario

On their most rewarding experience on the job.
“My most rewarding experience was when someone heeds advice and makes a positive change in their life—and then comes back to give thanks for the good advice.” – Ambassador Will

“I helped a gentleman reach his destination and family—he did not speak English, only Chinese. He was alone and had just arrived from Texas; he had never been to Western Washington. Through mutual trust and communicating with our hands, I was able to ensure he reached his destination. He and his family were grateful; it was really rewarding!” – Ambassador Mario

What misconception about your job would you like to clear up?
“It’s not personal! I’m employed to check the fares of every passenger on every Swift bus I board. If you haven’t paid and I ask you to exit the bus and buy a ticket, I don’t think you are a bad person or form any judgment about you-- I just want you to pay the fare.” – Ambassador Nick

And now for the tips

  • Have your fare ready.
  • Be patient and stay calm. It can be annoying when you are trying to buy a ticket and the bus shows up before you have completed your transaaction. Swift is fast, frequent service for a reason. The next bus will be along sooner than you expect.” – Ambassador Will
  • The ORCA Card makes paying the fare easy. One tap of the card on the reader and you’re good to go. I had trouble getting it to read correctly because I was failing to tap the card in the center of the reader. I finally got it down after the third boarding. Nothing like that “read error” beep and an approaching bus to get you to do it right the first time!
  • ORCA Card Tip from Swift Ambassador Will: if you leave your Swift card against the reader, the information on the screen will remain until you remove your card. Note: this only works on transactions where the screen doesn’t tell you to “Please try again” or “Insufficient Funds."
  • Don’t skip paying your fare. Just. Don’t. After five years riding Swift, the Ambassadors have fine-tuned their methods of visually identifying fare evaders. I won’t expose their methods here, but I can assure you there is no smoke and mirrors used. Just good old-fashioned observation, legwork and getting to know our Swift riders.
  • Don’t be offended if you’re asked to show proof of payment. If you happen to be on the bus when an Ambassador boards, everyone on board will be asked to show their ORCA card, receipt or reduced fare pass— it doesn’t matter if you’re a regular Swift rider and you think the Ambassadors should “know” you. Fare enforcement is just part of the job.
  • Have your fare ready. 

“Some of the riders think that when I’m checking their fare, I am suspecting them and/or accusing them of stealing. This could be farther from the truth! It is my job to check fares of all passengers," says, Ambassador Will.

So, there you have it-- a Swift glimpse of an Ambassador's day. Are there other Community Transit jobs you've been curious about? Let us know in the comments! It may become our next blog post.

* Average monthly fare checks conducted by all three Swift Ambassadors


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

A Swift Perspective from Behind the Wheel

There’s no avoiding numbers when it comes to celebrating milestones.

In honor of Swift's 5th Anniversary this week, we’ve been sharing its impressive numbers here. And here. Oh, and here.

But behind the numbers and what makes Swift, well, swift, is the people. I had the opportunity to talk to one of these people-- his name is Stuart.

Stuart is a Community Transit Coach Operator. Of his 11 years driving for the agency, he has driven Swift since it launched five years ago. Stuart has a unique perspective on Swift and how it came to be because he is one of three coach operators who were on the startup committee to launch it.
“Being on the startup team and driving the (Swift) service gives me a sense of ‘ownership in the process’ that others might not,” says Stuart.
On the idea of BRT in Snohomish county (let alone Washington state)
I thought BRT made sense for the Highway 99 corridor considering the history we had with our old Route 610 route, which was popular because people didn’t have to transfer from bus to bus in order to get to Aurora Village.

On changes he’s seen over the past five years of Swift:
Knowing how we had planned to run this service, it is nice to see that it is working almost exactly as we planned. Higher ridership than expected, so soon after launch.  We estimated 2500 boardings per day at the end of the first year of service. We reached 3200 boardings after only six months, and now we are around 4100. The overall perception is that Swift is unquestionably faster than driving a private vehicle.

So, what does Stuart think about Swift II?
I like it! I hear it would be 128th St SW to Boeing. A good choice for an east-west artery. Ultimately, it might be nice to have a Swift "box" with two north/south and two east/west lines, where people could start on a Swift bus to get elsewhere in the county. (For more info about the proposed Swift II, go here.)

On driving Swift versus a local or commuter route
I have done all of Community Transit’s local/UW/commuter routes.  The difference for me is that those runs are much more mundane than Swift. There always seems to be something going on out there (Swift) that is not found on our other services.

On this “ownership in the process” Stuart talks about
Any time you involve the drivers with planning a project or service addition, it gives instant credibility within the ranks of the drivers. Many were very skeptical of Swift early on UNTIL they found out that three of us drivers were on the committee.  After that, it seemed like we were peppered with questions up until launch about how it would work, etc. (which we were glad to answer). 

Bottom line-- for me, with ownership of Swift, it’s to make sure that over a period of time, it is not "diluted" or changed to the point where we look back and realize we aren't very "Swift" anymore.

On the biggest change to Swift in the last 5 yearsThe concept of Swift was to run the same as a subway system and have coaches equally spaced in the corridor every 10-12 minutes regardless of the time on the clock.  What we did then was call dispatch at each of the designated ‘pace points,’ so they knew where we were. With transit technology and GPS installed on the buses now, we don’t have to do that anymore.

On what makes driving Swift so rewardingI derive the most joy on Swift from working with our Swift Ambassadors and Transit Police.  They do their best to make sure people on Swift are safe and, as a result of their efforts, I believe our transit police have the highest percentage of arrests on warrants of any in the county.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Swift II... and Beyond!

When Community Transit first launched a bus rapid transit line on Highway 99, we had a vision for a network of such routes. The Long Range Transit Plan, approved in 2010 and being updated next year, outlined a series of high-traffic corridors that could eventually have Swift service.

With the great success of Swift, plans are underway for a second Swift line, tentatively called Swift II. Other lines will be considered as individual projects because we simply don’t have the resources to tackle them all at once. In some cases, like Highway 9, the corridors themselves are not ready for such high-volume transit service.

A corridor study was conducted over the past year to sketch out a Swift line that would run between the Boeing-Everett plant and Canyon Park. The study determined this line could start out carrying 3,300 riders a day and complete the 12.5-mile trip in about 40 minutes.

This route was selected in part because:
  • Some of the infrastructure already exists (transit lanes and transit signal priority on 128th/Airport Road).
  • The Mill Creek portion of the route has robust transit ridership.
  • This line would intersect with the existing Swift line at Highway 99 & Airport Road, establishing a network.
Community Transit cannot build this project with existing revenue. Federal grants are needed to buy buses and build the stations. Here are several things the agency must do before Swift II can become a reality:

Preliminary Swift II route
Preliminary Swift II route
  • Complete federal requirements for Small Starts capital funding (stations and buses), including an environmental impact analysis.
  • Develop plans for a northern terminal near Boeing (dubbed the "Seaway Transit Center").
  • Work with the state to develop traffic efficiency improvements across I-5 at 128th Street (already a major congestion point).
  • Continue to work with partner cities on infrastructure improvements along route, including transit signal priority.
  • Get new funding to pay for Swift II operation (possible new taxes).
Should all of these items fall into place, it is possible that a Swift II line could be operational as early as 2018.

Looking ahead, Community Transit would like to begin planning studies on future Swift lines as this project is underway. Ideally, that could lead to a Swift line opening every few years until the network is built out.

That scenario would rely on the agency getting a successful federal grant for Swift II (giving us the track record and experience in winning these grants), and securing a long-term increase in transit operation funding. Such funding would not be just to build more Swift lines, but to improve transit service throughout the county.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Swift turns 5!

Swift – the state’s first bus rapid transit line is now 5 years old!

On November. 30, Swift  marked its fifth year of providing quick, reliable service along Highway 99 in Snohomish County. (Does anyone remember that grand opening party on a day as cold as those we've had this week?)

That first day of service, Monday, Nov. 30, 2009, Swift transported 1,500 riders. These days, Swift carries about 5,700 riders each weekday – that translates into 125,000 riders a month, and about 1.5 million riders a year!

For several days this fall, Swift  carried more than 6,000 riders a day!

In 5 short years, Swift  has become Community Transit’s most popular route (highest ridership), one of our most productive routes (most riders per bus), and the cornerstone for a new network of countywide transit service.

What’s so great about Swift ?
Our customers tell us again and again that they love Swift because it is predictable. Buses arrive every 12 minutes between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. weekdays, and every 20 minutes at night and Saturdays. With next bus signs at each station counting down to Swift’s next departure, you don’t need a schedule.

Swift service is also fast. Because riders pay at the station, buses are typically stopped for only 10 seconds. That keeps the bus moving and gets you to your destination faster.

Whether you’ve been riding since the beginning, or just started this year, we thank you for riding Swift  We also want to hear your stories and see your pictures.

All this week we will be talking about Swift  on this blog, on our Facebook page and on Twitter. We'll be talking about our Swift  drivers, our Ambassadors and Swift  II! We'll be handing out chocolate bars, and there will even be a photo contest!

So, what's your Swift story?

Monday, November 10, 2014

New Sunday/Holiday service proposed for 2015

Community Transit has announced a proposal to bring back Sunday and holiday bus service in June 2015.

The service increase is possible due to increasing sales tax revenue, which makes up about 65 percent of the agency's operating budget. It was a sharp and prolonged reduction in sales tax revenue that led to the service cuts in 2010 and 2012.

In addition to Sunday/holiday service, Community Transit is proposing to add some trips to both commuter and local service on weekdays, and local service on Saturdays, as well as several small routing changes. See details online.

Sunday/holiday service
By next June, it will have been five years since Sunday and holiday service was suspended, a move that was always considered temporary, but the recession proved so dire t
hat it has taken this long for it to return.

The proposed Sunday/holiday service is different than that of 2009. Buses would not be as frequent, hours of operation would be shorter and some routes have changed since back then.

DART paratransit service
In this proposal, DART paratransit service would also return on Sundays and holidays parallel to the 16 fixed routes. By federal law, DART will pick up riders and take them to destinations that are within 3/4-mile of an all-day fixed route bus line. The Sunday/holiday bus suspension meant that DART riders could not get service on those days.

DART riders may also be impacted by the routing changes. There are three areas where regular bus service would be eliminated, in Marysville, Monroe and Sultan. There are also areas of Marysville and Monroe that would see bus service added, so DART riders in those areas should review those route changes carefully.

Public comment
The service proposal is just that, a proposal. Public comment will be taken through January 9, 2015 and every comment made through official channels will be provided to the Board of Directors for review. A public hearing will take place before the board on January 8, 2015, so whether you have submitted a comment or not, any person can take three minutes to state his or her opinion about the proposal at that meeting.

Details on how to submit public comment are available online at

While dialogue is encouraged on this blog and through other social media channels, only the comments provided by letter, email or phone call are considered official. You can also attend any of the four public meetings to ask questions about the proposal, or ask them here.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Community Transit Recognizes Smart Transportation Choices

Community Transit’s Choice Connections program recognizes worksites and commuters in Snohomish County and the City of Bothell that go above and beyond to reduce pollution and congestion by promoting healthy transportation choices.

Congratulations to the Choice Connections Award winners for the 2nd Quarter of 2014:

Smart Commuter of the Quarter
Gina Paterson-Bryant from Premera Mountlake Terrace audits processes and systems to better serve Premera’s customers. She carefully considered her impact on the environment, and made a very deliberate decision to give up her car completely in 2005. Gina uses public transportation, carpools and walks for her commute and all of her personal errands as well. She is a personal advocate and resource for her co-workers on how to use transit and go car free!


ETC of the Quarter
Kelly Davis from Seattle Genetics in Bothell used her passion as a cyclist to take her worksite program to the next level.  Kelly led Seattle Genetics to receive the Cascade Bicycle Club Silver-level BizCycle Certification denoting Seattle Genetics as an outstanding employer for commuters. Kelly organized her worksite’s Bike to Work Month Campaign and tied it to a fundraiser for Gilda’s Club. Kelly’s team raised $6,000 for cancer support and together biked over 6,000 miles in the month of May. 

Employer of the Quarter
T-Mobile in Bothell developed a major campaign to encourage their employees to register and log their trips in, a commute tracking program. The campaign included a generous number of gift card as an incentive for new users. The campaign added 88 new participants to for a total of 106 actively participating employees. The successful campaign launched T-Mobile to surpass its tracking goal to reach133% of employees logging trips.

Choice Connections reward commuters for choosing a smart alternative to driving alone, and offers the tools and resources needed to get started. When you choose a smart commute, your efforts reduce traffic, save money and time, and help the environment. To learn more about the Choice Connections program, please visit Community Transit Choice Connections.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Community Transit and United Way: Building Community Together

Earlier this month, Community Transit kicked off our 2014 United Way campaign, Building Community Together, by participating in the United Way of Snohomish County Days of Caring on September 12 & 13 at the Mukilteo Community Garden.
Community Transit’s United Way Days of Caring Volunteers
The garden provided almost 1900 lbs of fresh produce to Snohomish County food banks last year
The Mukilteo Community Garden, now in its sixth year, has 1,800 square feet of plants producing food destined for Snohomish County food banks and other nonprofits.   In 2013, the garden contributed almost 1900 lbs of fresh produce to area food banks.  Community members are able to rent one of the garden’s p-patch beds in exchange for volunteering their time to cultivate and harvest the food bank beds.
Community Transit employees Michael Shea and Rob Jensen cut wood for planter boxes
Community Transit United Way team member, Claudia McConnell, finds a deep root while weeding a food bank bed.

Over 25 Community Transit staff and family volunteers assisted with weeding, painting, building planter boxes, repairing a roof and compost bins and weighing out the harvest.

Director of Customer Relations, Bob Throckmorton, spruces up the garden’s office with a fresh coat of paint.
Vanpool coordinator, Liz Sherman, removes morning glory and other weeds from around the garden’s fence.
“We felt that the Mukilteo Community Garden fit well with Community Transit’s mission, said Diane Kinnear, Co-Chair of the Community Transit’s United Way Team, “The garden brings people together while also giving back to those in most need in our community.”

Friday, August 8, 2014

Van GO Grants Keep Our Community Moving

Opportunity is knocking... for Snohomish County nonprofit organizations to get a van at no cost.

Community Transit's Van GO program awards surplus vans to qualified nonprofits that demonstrate they can use the vehicles to provide needed transportation services in their community. Since 2000, Community Transit has awarded 106 surplus vanpool and service vans as well as paratransit minibuses to organizations through an annual competition.

A number of those vehicles awarded over the years are still in service. Community Transit takes good care of its vehicles, so even a van with 120,000 miles on it is likely to provide years of service for a small organization.

The deadline to apply for this year's vehicles, up to ten 12-passenger vans, is Friday, Sept 26. The vehicles are awarded through a competitive process in which community groups demonstrate how they will use the vehicles to provide transportation service. Awardees will get the van at no cost but must show proof of insurance, pay to register the vehicle and provide quarterly reports to Community Transit.

Questions about eligibility should be directed to or (425) 438-6136.

Applications and more details about the Van GO program are available at

Applications that are mailed must be postmarked by Sept. 26. Electronic or hand-delivered applications must be received by 5 p.m. Sept. 26. Electronic applications must be followed by a hard copy containing the appropriate certification signatures.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Community Transit’s Day in the Life: Oxy Gene

Our spotlight this month is on a man who needs little introduction, Community Transit’s very own Superhero, Oxy Gene! He’s been spreading the word about his personal motto of truth, justice and really clean air for 15 years. Watch for Oxy Gene at fairs and festivals all across Snohomish County. I think you’ll agree with me that he’s definitely earned his title of Superhero!
Hello Good People!
I know you’ve probably seen me around the Puget Sound area and are wondering, “Who is this Oxy Gene character anyway”? Well fellow citizens, I can’t give out all of my secrets, but let me tell you a little bit about myself.
I live in the small town of Airisclear, WA near the slopes of Mt. Rainier. I love waking up in the morning and seeing that beautiful mountain! But when air quality standards begin to fall, the mountain becomes a little hazy. That’s when I dash from my home to rid the air of pollution. I HATE POLLUTION! I hate everything about it! I hate the vile concoction of filth, exhaust, and other oxygen killing particulates that invade our air everyday. What is one of the main causes of air pollution? You guessed it…CARS! But by taking public transportation you are doing your part to keep our air clean.
When Community Transit called I was happy to help out. I spend my days visiting the good people of Snohomish County showing them how to ride the bus, and all the benefits of using public transportation including making our community a better and healthier place to live, and how to save time and money by sharing the ride with family and friends. Now that summer is here, look for me at various parades around beautiful Snohomish County. Enjoy the summer everyone! 

Want a chance to meet Oxy Gene? Visit him this summer at the following events:
  • July 19 – Snohomish Kla Ha Ya Days Parade
  • August 2 – Stanwood Camano Fair Parade
  • August 5 – Mukilteo National Night Out
  • August 5 – Snohomish County National Night Out
  • August 9 – Mill Creek Kids Fun Run
  • September 6 – Mukilteo Lighthouse Parade
  • September 13 – Marysville Touch a Truck
For more information on Oxy Gene please visit

Friday, June 27, 2014

Community Transit Recognizes Smart Transportation Choices

Did you know that over 50% of all greenhouse gas emissions in Washington come from transportation sources?

Community Transit’s Choice Connections program recognizes worksites and commuters in Snohomish County and the City of Bothell that go above and beyond to reduce pollution and congestion by promoting alternatives to driving alone.

The Choice Connections award winners for the 1st Quarter of 2014 were:

Smart Commuter of the Quarter
Mark Fagan, Smart Commuter of the Quarter
Mark Fagan from Esterline-Korry gave up his car as part of a New Year’s resolution and hasn’t looked back. He is able to commute to work via vanpool, Swift and bicycle and is enjoying the positive effects to both his health and wallet. Mark’s personal mission is to use his smart commute to reduce his carbon footprint.

Employee Transportation Coordinator of the Quarter
Jeanne Killgore of The Everett Clinic at Smokey Point has been instrumental in evaluating her worksite Commute Trip Reduction program to successfully remove drive alone trips from our roads. Thanks to her hard work she was successfully able to surpass her worksite survey requirements, which helps to gauge future areas for program growth.

Employer of the Quarter
The City of Lynnwood is dedicated to making it easier for their employees to choose smart transportation options. They offer a monthly incentive for those who choose not to drive alone to work. Their worksite show an impressive savings of over 4,700 pounds of CO2 and over 6,000 vehicle trips reduced from our local roads in the first quarter 2014.
Choice Connections is a new program that rewards commuters for choosing a smart alternative to driving alone, and offers the tools and resources needed to get started. When you choose a smart commute, your efforts reduce traffic, save money and time, and help the environment. To learn more about the Choice Connections program please visit Community Transit Choice Connections.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Bike Month: Success throughout Snohomish County

May was National Bike Month and Snohomish County had a great turn out for the month long activities. Over 1,114 bicyclists from Snohomish County participated in the Commute Challenge during the month of May. In Snohomish County alone, there were an impressive 818 participants in Bike to Work Day commute station celebrations. Thank you for everyone who geared up to join in the Bike Month festivities including our commute station sponsors: Starbucks and Talking Rain! For more information on biking in your community, additional resources are available at Community Transit bikes and Cascade Bicycle Club.

Bike Month Spotlight: Seattle Genetics

We are excited to share the success of one of our local employers, Seattle Genetics, who just wrapped up their most successful Bike to Work campaign in 2014. Their Bike Month events at their Bothell worksite include a Bike Month Challenge team that raised funds for a local non-profit agency. Kelly Davis, Employee Transportation Coordinator for Seattle Genetics, shares their impressive story:

In May 2014, employees at Seattle Genetics, the largest Washington-based biotechnology company focused on developing and commercializing innovative, empowered antibody-based therapies for the treatment of cancer, beat the company’s previous Bike to Work month records by a wide margin. Fifty-four employees biked 6,000 miles in 576 one way trips during the month of May. Participation and miles biked increased 45 percent on average over previous years. In fact, several new participants mentioned how they started biking to work because of Seattle Genetics’ Bike to Work program and several plan to continue to bike to work through the summer.

Seattle Genetics boosted 2014 participation through different incentives. The biggest incentive came through the company matching $1 for every mile biked, resulting in $6,000 donated to Gilda's Club Seattle, a non-profit organization providing a support network for those living with cancer - survivors, their loved-ones and friends. Seattle Genetics also provided company branded bike wind vests, onsite bike tune-ups for Bike to Work day participants and gave out $20 gift certificates from a local bike shop to two lucky winners each week.

Every year it is a pleasure to see Bike to Work month participation increase at Seattle Genetics, with this year proving just as spectacular.


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Route 232 Continues Response to Post-Landslide Needs

Before the March 22 Oso landslide, Route 230 provided “lifeline” service to connect Darrington and Oso with Arlington and the rest of Snohomish County. The route ran two round trips each weekday, one in the morning and one in the evening. There weren’t a lot of riders, but this bus service offered a way to connect to the community if you didn’t have a car.

When the landslide shut down the Highway 530 connection to the county, there was a sense of isolation east of Oso. The only way to get to Arlington or Everett was to drive north into Skagit County and take a 2-to-3 hour trip. Not only was it inconvenient, at $3.75 or so a gallon it was also expensive.

Community Transit responded with Route 231, providing a bus trip on that long route at the bargain prices of $2 a ride (standard local adult fare). Because local residents might need to do some basic shopping and errands besides get to work, Route 231 made mid-day stops at the convenience store in Concrete, and the Food Pavilion and hospital in Sedro Woolley, along with morning and evening round trips. We've had as many as 20 people a day use this remote service.

Now that one lane of Highway 530 has been re-opened, Community Transit is returning to direct service to Darrington. Route 232 will provide morning and evening round trips, like Route 230 did, but Route 232 will also take people all the way to Smokey Point, which was a popular destination on the Route 231.

Route 230 will go away for now. While Route 220 between Arlington and Smokey Point will remain unchanged, Route 232 will serve the same stops as Route 220 at times when a transfer has not been very convenient. Thank you for your patience and support.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Spoken Wheel: Stories from Snohomish County Bikers

Our next Spoken Wheel story comes from Mark Fagan from Esterline, our newest Community Transit Smart Commuter of the Quarter. Mark has been riding his bike to work ever since his car died 18 months ago and he has been enjoying the positive effects to both his health and his wallet. 

Mark shared some of his thoughts on how biking to work has impacted his life:

I have been fortunate enough to work for a company which has consistently fostered a culture of creative commuting. We are given support through administrative assistance in coordinating Rideshare groups, Commute Trip Reduction (CTR) Awareness events, and even subsidies for CTR participation.

A few years ago, my company moved the plant from Seattle to Everett. That same year, Community Transit introduced The Swift rapid bus line. That put me in range for a bicycle/bus commute. I tried the bike/bus commute on and off, but hadn’t really committed until a couple of years ago when the transmission on my car went out (for the second time). That was the tipping point for me. We had a family meeting and it was agreed that we could easily be a one car family.

I found a good deal on a used Cannondale road bike, which I then converted to a commuter rig complete with expandable luggage and heavy duty rims. I researched the best route to take between work and home using Google Maps and With this combination, I was able to easily customize a bike route and compile an accurate elevation profile. On my first commute trip, I found that not only was I capable of completing the route, but I actually enjoyed it! I thought about all the gas money I would save, the carbon emissions I wouldn't produce, and it certainly couldn't hurt my waistline. I resolved to go for one whole year without a car.

Each year my colleagues form two teams to participate in the Commute Challenge for Bike to Work month. Last year, I volunteered to captain one of the teams (Go CycleOps!). We had a lot of fun, getting to exercise while indulging our competitive spirit. At the end of Bike to Work Month, we had a surprisingly satisfying outcome. We tied. One team won from trip rate, and the other for cumulative miles. We had a great time and I’m looking forward to doing it again.
I passed the one year “car-less” milestone about 6 months ago. I've found that between a Community Transit Vanpool, the Swift Bus, and my bicycle, I haven’t really missed having a car much. When I do, I rent one and still come out ahead. Maybe next year I’ll buy a car. I’m in no hurry.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Spoken Wheel: Stories from Snohomish County Bikers

Michael on his way to work
Michael Cawrse is a Stormwater Engineering Technician for the City of Edmonds. He has been riding his bike to work, rain or shine, from his home in Seattle to Edmonds for years. In 2013, he was selected to be Community Transit’s Smart Commuter of the Quarter for his commitment to reducing traffic and emissions by biking and carpooling to work.

Mike shared some of his thoughts on Bike to Work Month:
“It’s been great seeing all the bike riders the last few weeks, especially now that Bike to Work and School Month is in full swing. It is a great time to take advantage of the (hopefully) warmer weather to save your gas money and get healthy.
And if you pick just one day to ride, make it Bike to Work Day on Friday, May 16. Check your route beforehand and see if there are any Commute Stations ( giving out swag. And if you’re in Edmonds, my co-workers and I will see you at the Commute Station near the ferry terminal!!
Lastly, a safety tip to all riders - yell 'On Your Left' when passing other riders or pedestrians."

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Spring into Gear: Tips for New Bike Commuters

Today marks the first day of national Bike Month and now is a great time to pull your bicycle out of the garage and give biking to work or school a try.  Biking is a great way to avoid traffic stress and the costs of driving.  It’s also a great way to combine your commute with your workout!

For a new bike commuter, here are just a few tips to help you get started:

1.    Plan your route in advance. Usually there are several ways to get from your house to the office. Consider taking the easiest route with the least amount of traffic even if it is longer.  
    • Download the newly updated Snohomish County Bike Map to find bike friendly routes from your home or work.
    • Visit Google Maps biking feature to input your starting point and destination and get suggested routes.
2.    Try a practice run on the weekend and pay attention to how much time it takes so you can avoid being late to work.

3.    Know the proper turn signals so that you can alert drivers, pedestrians and other bikers of your actions:
    • Right turn signal - either hold your right arm out, or hold your left arm up, with bent elbow. You don’t have to keep your arm out through the turn – you may need both hands on the handlebars to keep control of your bicycle.
    • Left turn signal - left hand straight out
    • Brake signal - left hand pointed down bend at the elbow at a 45 degree angle
4.    Get a light.  A simple headlight or flashing light on your bike or person can make you more visible to drivers.  Bike lights can be purchased at most bicycle shops and sports stores for as little as $5.

5.    Wear a helmet.  Not only is it the law in Washington State, but a helmet can protect you if something unexpected happens.

6.    Be prepared for weather.  Be sure to check out the forecast before you leave the house and make sure you have the right gear with you including sunglasses (hopefully!), rain gear or gloves.

7.    Bring in clothes, lunches and other items you need to bring from home to work for the week in on the weekend so you don’t have to worry about them on your ride.  If you need to bring items with you each day, consider purchasing a bike bag or rack which can be purchased at most bicycle shops and sport stores.

8.    Find out ahead of time where you can park your bike at your workplace and where you can store any bike gear.

9.    Keep up on bike maintenance and cleaning for a smoother ride and to make sure you catch any problems early.

10.  Remember, if you have a long commute to work you don’t have to bike the whole way.  Check out if there are transit routes that can get you near work or home and you can bike the rest of the way.  All regional buses and trains are equipped with bike racks and many transit centers and park & rides have bike lockers or racks for you to park your bike.
    • Visit our website for more information on biking and busing.

Community Transit is supporting bike activities all month long throughout Snohomish County. To learn more about Bike Month events and resources, visit our Bike Month webpage.