Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Six Year Plan Forecasts 20 Percent Service Increase

The latest draft six-year Transit Development Plan (TDP) forecasts enough of a sales tax bump to fund up to 20 percent more service for Community Transit. That is great news for riders who endured a 37 percent cut in service during the recession.

A sobering statistic is that the new service, combined with grant-funded increases in 2013, still total only about 45 percent of the service hours cut from 2010-2012. In other words, modest sales tax gains will only get modest service gains, and it's possible that service won't return to pre-recession levels without a new source of funding.

But let's focus on the good news.

According to the draft TDP, if sales tax revenue trends hold, Community Transit should have capacity to add about 7,500 hours of new service this year, 25,000 hours of service in 2015 and 7,000 hours of service in each year from 2016-19. For perspective, the agency cut 160,000 hours of service a few years ago. But this level of new service is enough to fund some level of Sunday/holiday service and some improvements elsewhere in the system. Over the next six years, that is.

Since last summer, Community Transit has been asking riders for their input on where they would like to see new service. Currently, we are conducting a Transit Values Exercise to get more input on service additions in a game-like environment. Together, these data sets will be combined with regular customer comments and rider statistics (which routes and stops have the most or least activity) to come up with a proposal for new service.

Expect the first proposal to come out in April for this fall's service change. The more substantial increase will be in 2015; a proposal for that service change is expected to come out before the end of this year.

Again, for perspective, before Sunday/holiday service was cut in 2010, there were about 28,000 hours dedicated to that service.

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