Wednesday, March 18, 2015

How to Commend Your Bus Driver

Today is the day. You've decided you're finally going to let us know how much you appreciate your bus driver. You grab a cup of coffee, sit down at your computer, open up a new document...

And this happens:

Writer's block! 

Don't worry. We're here to help! Commendations don't have to be formal or lengthy-- just speak (or in this case, write) from the heart and go from there. Here are some examples of actual commendations our coach operators recently received:

“I ride the route 412 that leaves McCollum Park and Ride at 6:47 a.m.  I must compliment our bus driver.  He is kind, cautious and makes sure we arrive on time.  He goes out of his way when bus riders ask him for help.  On January 9, he did an act of kindness that shouldn’t go unnoticed.  Please let him know I say thank you!”

“On February 14 I rode the northbound 116 that arrived at Ash Way Park and Ride at 19:02.  The 116 was a little late arriving and I needed to catch the northbound 201.  Sarah, the operator of the 116 honked at the 201 and got that driver’s attention so he waited and I was able to make my connection.  This really made my Valentine’s Day!”

“I ride the first southbound 880 at 5:40 a.m. from 35th and 148th.  The operator of this route is very friendly and a good driver.  He makes the ride fun.  Please let him know I think he’s great!”

“I want to commend the driver of the route 115 on January 30 as he was amazing.  He took the time to explain to me how to ride a different bus, explaining the map and even tried to hold the other bus for me.  I really appreciated his help."

Key things to have in your commendation:
  • Driver name (if you know it)
  • Time, Route and Day (so we can find out who the driver is so s/he gets their commendation)

Commendations are gathered and shared with drivers via a formal letter (like this one, left) and put in their employee file. Your commendation will help the driver earn recognition and service awards.

So, when you’ve got your commendation ready to go, you can:

Remember, commendations are excepted (and welcomed!) year-round and not just on Bus Driver Appreciation Day (March 18).

Have you written a commendation lately? What writing tips do you have for others?

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Community Transit recognizes leaders in smart transportation choices!

Community Transit’s Choice Connections program recognizes worksites in Snohomish County and the City of Bothell who support Washington State Commute Trip Reduction (CTR) goals. They go above and beyond to encourage their employees to use smart transportation options to driving alone.

Congratulations to the Choice Connections award winners for 4th Quarter 2014:
Smart Commuter of the Quarter
Joyce Nelson is a project manager for technology security at AT&T. She is very adept at managing her carbon footprint using smart transportation options to commute by vanpooling and telecommuting for over 20 years.  Traveling 84 miles daily, four days a week, she and her vanpool partners are helping to take vehicles off the road and save time every day by sharing the commute.

Employee Transportation Coordinator (ETC) of the Quarter
Natalya Tatarinov is a very active ETC for her worksite, Molina Healthcare. She provides brochures to new hires and tells them about the benefits of carpooling.  She regularly shares the regional rideshare promotions with her employees, such as the state-wide Wheel Options campaign, and information about their worksite transportation program. Molina Healthcare’s employee lunchroom is always well stocked with flyers and posters, giving employees another way to learn about their smart transportation options. With Natalya’s guidance, Molina employees have removed over 20,000 drive alone trips from our roads, and reduced over 10,800 pounds of CO2 from the air during the fourth quarter alone.   

Employer of the Quarter
FUJIFILM SonoSite increased bus and vanpool riders due to company paid ORCA cards and vanpool subsidies. They offer their employees a wide variety of resources to learn about available smart transportation options to their worksite.  Their worksite had an impressive savings of over 4,300 pounds of CO2, and over 6,100 drive alone trips reduced from our local roads during the fourth quarter of 2014.

Choice Connections rewards commuters for choosing a smart transportation options 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.

Do You Appreciate Your Bus Driver? Tell them so on March 18.

Courtesy of
Don't you feel good when someone makes you feel appreciated for what you do?

Know what else feels good? Making someone else feel appreciated!

Next week, we will focus on making our coach operators (a.k.a. "bus drivers") feel the love on Wednesday, March 18 which is Transit Driver Appreciation Day.

We invite you to join us in saying "Thank You" to the men and women who, day-in-day-out, command the wheel of our local, commuter and DART vehicles to get us to work, school, and to points here, there and everywhere as safely and as timely as possible.

We think our coach operators are amazing. Like many other customer service jobs where you're more likely to hear the bad (and rarely the good), it can really make your day to hear a simple and heartfelt, "Thank you!"

We'll be sharing our 'Appreciation Day' activities as they happen on our Facebook Page next week. We invite you to join us, even if it is virtually.

In the meantime, tell us what you appreciate about your favorite driver by commenting on this post. Better yet, put your good words onto virtual paper and send it to Be sure to include the driver's route, bus number-- and name, if possible. Our drivers are rewarded for these customer commendations, so please take a moment to let us know when they've made your day. Here's a past post about how you can appreciate and commend your Community Transit bus driver throughout the year.

What do you appreciate about your bus driver? Tell us in the comments!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

It's a Fare Question: What Happens When You Don't Pay?

Drivers may hand you this card which spells out our Fare Policy

Let’s start with our Fare Policy. It states (in our Bus Plus Book and website):
  • When you pay with cash, have the exact fare ready. Drivers do not make change.
  • Community Transit collects fares on all trips.
  • Passengers are not authorized to ride without paying their full fare.
  • If you choose to ride without paying your fare, you do so at your own risk and you may be subject to a $124.00 fine (RCW 36.57A.230 is a state law authorizing civil citations for non-fare payment.) 
The majority of our customers pay their fare—thank you! We appreciate it! Occasionally, there are riders who can’t pay their fare, for various reasons. And then there are those who decide not to pay their fare at all.

If you decide to ride without paying your fare, this is what you can expect:
  • We will ask for full fare—and we’ll do it politely. The driver is going to tell you how much fare is due for your ride. At this point, we hope that you say, “Oops, my bad,” come up with the rest of the fare and the bus and your fellow passengers will continue on its way.
  • We will continue to be polite while we tell you our fare policy. Still don’t have the full fare? The driver will tell you our fare policy. You may or may not get this card while the driver talks to you about the policy (pictured above). This card was developed four years ago to give drivers a tool to educate riders while keeping focused on the road, the safety of other passengers and their bus.
  • Swift, Commuter or Local— Swift Ambassadors and Transit Police May Be Along for the Ride . With its off-board fare payment and no fare box set-up, skipping out on paying fare happens a little more on Swift than on our other routes. However, the Fare Policy applies and it is enforced—you will see this as Transit Police Deputies ride Swift along with our Swift Ambassadors to carry out fare enforcement as part of their duties. Transit Police Deputies also ride on other routes and sometimes in plainclothes. So, while the primary emphasis is on Swift, Transit Police can show up anywhere, any time, to carry out fare enforcement as part of their duties.
Simply put, every time you decide to skip paying a fare on a Community Transit bus, you put yourself at risk at being fined $124.00—no matter what the reason.

Play Fare (Pun intended)

Consider these tips for a fare-ly smooth bus ride:
  • Get an ORCA Card.  It works like cash or a pass. Avoid the headache of going to the ATM and then getting smaller bills. You can buy it online, from a customer service office like the RideStore at the Lynnwood Transit Center or from a participating retailer. You can manage your card online and add value. There is a one-time cost of $5 for the card, but it will save you money after only a few trips. Plus, you get a 2-hour free transfer!
  • Exact change, please! Our drivers won’t be able to make change for that $20 bill you got from the ATM.
  • Be kind. Our drivers are tasked with transporting some pretty precious cargo—you and your fellow riders—in addition to making sure fares are paid. When you are short on your fare, it is their job to ask for the full fare and to tell you about our Fare Policy. Please listen to what they have to say and make a mental note for next time. That said, our drivers are not tasked with making you feel like the “example” for all to see. If you experience this, please contact us at or (425) 353-7433.

What tips and tricks do you have to make sure you have the correct fare? Have you ever helped a fellow passenger who didn’t have enough to pay the fare? Tell us in the comments.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Transportation Bills Moving in Olympia

Today, the Washington State Senate took action on a transportation funding bill that would raise the gas tax to pay for roads, bridges and transit improvements over the next 16 years. The bill passed 27-22 amid objections from both Democrats and Republicans about various parts of the package.

The Senate bill contains a local option provision that would allow Community Transit to ask voters in its service area to raise the local sales tax to support increased transit service.

HB 1393 also accomplishes the same "local option" for Community Transit. That bill passed out of the House Committee on Finance last week and is awaiting a floor vote.

These items are important to the future of transit service in Snohomish County. While Community Transit is set to bring back Sunday and holiday bus service this June, current projections would see only 45 percent of the service that was cut during the recession return by 2018.

New revenue generated by a local option could help fund a second line of Swift bus rapid transit, increased commuter service to downtown Seattle and UW, more frequent bus trips throughout Snohomish County all week and late-night bus service.

Increasing demand for transit service far beyond what is now provided is a main reason why various supporters have spoekn in favor of Community Transit's local option, including Workforce Snohomish, Associated Students of the University of Washington, the Puget Sound Regional Council, Economic Alliance Snohomish County, United Way and the Transportation Choices Coalition.

Stay tuned for further legislative updates as these bills advance.