Monday, March 31, 2014

Doing What We Can to Help the Darrington Community

When the deadly landslide struck on March 22, it wiped out a section of Highway 530 between Oso and Darrington. That was the corridor our Route 230 used to provide "lifeline" bus service to residents of Darrington, taking them into Arlington and back home each weekday.

Flag flies at half-staff outside the Darrington Post Office.
With Route 230 truncated at the town of Oso, we considered how we might be able to serve residents east of the slide. Our CEO challenged us to "find a way" to get bus service to those who previously used Route 230 and those who might now need affordable transportation into and out of the area.

Thus, Route 231 was born. It was the quickest route created in Community Transit history -- three days from idea to implementation. On Friday, March 28, the first "Route 231 - Special" bus rolled into Darrington just before 7 a.m.

This bus takes an 80-mile "re-route" north on I-5, east on Highway 20 at Burlington, and south on Highway 530 at Rockport. Early morning and early evening trips travel directly between Everett and Darrington to help people get to work, or elsewhere in Snohomish County. Two morning and mid-day trips loop between Whitehorse (west of Darrington) and Burlington, providing a link to shopping, medical and other amenities in Skagit County.

Community Transit has also been called upon by Snohomish County Department of Emergency Management to provide large vans to help transport rescue workers to the landslide scene, and families of victims to the shelter areas to visit loved ones. Each day for the past week, 2-to-4 of our vans and drivers have provided this emergency transportation assistance.

We have also let local residents know that vanpools are an attractive option for people needing to get to work in Snohomish County without making a long and costly trip by themselves. At least three vanpools have been created to get people from Darrington to worksites in the Arlington area each day.

At a time of unprecedented tragedy in our community, we are doing what we can to help.

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