Friday, June 19, 2015

Four Things You Should Know About Our New Double Tall Buses

By Laurel McJannet

Back in May, The Herald had a post on their Street Smarts blog about Community Transit's order of 22 double decker buses to be delivered this summer. These buses will increase our fleet of Double Talls (as we affectionately call them) to a whopping 45 total this summer.

Guess what? Three of them have arrived and I was able to take some pictures and find out what new features these new buses will offer.

I know what you're thinking-- when will they be on the road? Will they be put on my route?

Before the buses can be put on the road, they will be inspected and cleaned, as well as outfitted with transit technology (GPS, ORCA and a farebox.) This process takes 3-4 weeks or longer depending on if we find something that needs to be fixed before they go into service. Once they are assigned to a route, we'll update this post.

In the meantime, we know inquiring minds want to know what's new with these buses, so here are some highlights.

Good Things Come in Small Packages. Here is a picture of a current and a new Double Tall -- an updated Enviro 500 from Alexander Dennis. The new one is on the bottom (you can see it hasn't been branded yet with "The Double Tall" decal on the front). At first glimpse, they appear the same, but the new Double Tall is six inches shorter in height, which is good because this means the buses can fit at places they previously could not.

The new Double Talls, with high-back reclining seats, will hold 80 passengers (49 upstairs and 31 downstairs OR 25 + two wheelchairs).
Pictures of current and new Double Tall Double Decker buses

New Bike Rack. The new Double Tall has a bike rack that holds 3 bikes! All new buses will have this bike rack and, eventually, all buses will follow suit and upgrade from their current 2-bike rack.

(Left) New Double Tall. (Right) Current Double Tall

The upper deck (pictured above) is largely unchanged. As you can see, there's slightly less room in the front row of the upper deck, but the unobstructed view remains the same. You're actually closer to the action!

Last but not least... a lower deck monitor! There is a monitor at the bottom of the staircase leading to the upper deck. Ever have those days where you race up the stairs to the upper deck, find it's full and have to make the climb back downstairs? Now, you'll be able to see if there are seats available on the upper deck before schlepping yourself and your bags up those stairs. Genius, I say!
So, there you have it. A sneak peek at our newest Double Talls. Is there anything else you'd like to see/know about them? Let us know in the comments.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Community Transit Recognizes Leaders in Smart Transportation Options

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.
Smart Commuter of the Quarter, Josefina Behymer
Congratulations to the Choice Connections award winners for 1st Quarter 2015:

Smart Commuter of the Quarter
Josefina Behymer is a liaison between internal buyers and engineers at Boeing Canyon Park Commons in Bothell. She is a vital connection to ensure that orders are accurate and streamlined. Josefina displays her commitment to smart transportation choices by taking the ferry and vanpooling for her commute of 88 miles each day. We’d like to recognize Josefina for her devotion to smart transportation choices that help keep the environment healthy for everyone!

Employee Transportation Coordinator (ETC) of the Quarter
Woody Whitaker has been the ETC for Allstate for eight years. He provides employees with support and information about their transportation options, and helps them find an attractive commute to fit their lifestyle. Woody takes the time to meet with Allstate’s new employees to explain the company’s subsidy program, as well as commute options to their Bothell worksite. Woody’s continued support of the program has resulted in 25% of the worksite’s employees logging trips in, saving over 78,000 miles and more than $22,800 in fuel during the first quarter of 2015. 

Employer of the Quarter
Electric Mirror made a big commitment to smart transportation when it implemented a subsidy program for their carpools and vanpools. Parking was at a premium at their South Everett worksite, so they took a proactive approach to fix their overcrowded parking lots. Electric Mirror announced the rollout of a subsidy program to their employees in the month of February and began sign ups in March. As a result, 20% of their workforce is now carpooling. During the first quarter of 2015 their efforts removed 1,146 trips and more than 12,000 drive alone miles. 

Choice Connections rewards commuters for choosing 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 transit/ChoiceConnections.


Thursday, June 4, 2015

Welcome Back Sunday Service !

By Emmett Heath, Community Transit CEO

On Sunday, June 7, Community Transit will return to a 365-day transit operation. It has always been our mission to serve the residents of Snohomish County the best we can. The Great Recession interrupted our ability to do so, in a number of ways.
Emmett Heath, CEO

Returning Sunday and holiday service is one of several actions we are taking to make good on our promise to fulfill our mission to customers.

Beginning June 7, we will add 27,000 hours of bus and paratransit service to our system, the largest increase since the recession.
• We are adding more trips in the mid-day and on Saturday.
• We are restoring a one-seat ride between Granite Falls and the Boeing plant in Everett.
• We are providing more robust service along Highway 2 in east Snohomish County, and serving job centers in Monroe that we had previously cut.

In the past year, we have hired 120 drivers to offset attrition and to ramp up for this service expansion. These new drivers are happy to be working here, and we’re excited to have them. Next week, we will have all our buses in service and all our drivers on the road doing their best to get you where you need to go, safely and on schedule.

But we’re not stopping there.

We have 22 new Double Tall buses that will be delivered this summer. Seventeen of those will replace older 60-foot buses, adding extra seats on the Seattle trips they serve. Five of those will be additions to the fleet that will increase our ability to serve that popular Snohomish County-to-Seattle market.

We also have ordered 10 additional 60-foot buses that will arrive in early 2016. Those buses will be available to increase our service within Snohomish County as many of our routes, particularly in the south county, are running at capacity.

Today, with concurrence from our Board of Directors, we approved a plan to add more service hours this fall. It is an acceleration of our planned 2016 service enhancement, but it will not provide extra trips. These 12,000 service hours will be used to adjust our schedules on trips that have been struggling to run on time as overall traffic congestion has increased travel times. These hours will go to trips running on I-5 to UW and downtown Seattle, as well as local trips on Routes 115/116 and 201/202.

We like to get people to their destinations on schedule, and some daily driving conditions prevent us from doing so now and then. When we see trips that run late almost every day, we have to invest in more service hours to give our customers a reliable schedule. That’s what we’ll be doing this fall.

I thank you for supporting Community Transit, and wish you a safe and pleasant ride.