Friday, October 30, 2015

A Day in the Life at the Lost and Found: Phones, Umbrellas, and a Bag O’Pot




Many people run to catch their bus, but some also dash off the bus to get where they need to go. In that bustle, they sometimes leave stuff behind. At Community Transit, we average about 650 lost and found items per month. That’s up to 8,000 items a year.

Most items left behind on our buses are what you’d expect to find: cell phones, travel umbrellas, prescription glasses, IDs. But, we also get stuff you’ve got to wonder how someone could forget: bicycles, laptops, dentures, even a playpen! 

When you operate public transit in a state where marijuana is legalized, it’s not surprising when a bag of pot appears in the daily drop off. 

In fact, our staff estimates that small amounts of marijuana make an appearance at the Lost and Found about four times per month.

So, what do we do with the pot?

According to Matt, Sales and Distribution Supervisor at the Lynnwood Transit Center RideStore, home to our Lost and Found, standard procedure is to call the Snohomish County Sheriff’s deputies to come and retrieve it. We don’t want to be in possession of lost drugs or weapons.

“In most instances, what we receive is a small amount,” said Matt. “If it happens that the person who left their item on the bus shows up to claim it before the sheriffs arrive, we release the item to the person (after they properly identify it).”

If the sheriff arrives before the owner and takes possession of the marijuana, a tag marked with the case number and sheriff’s office contact info is attached to the container the marijuana was in so the owner can take steps to retrieve the item. When a claimant is told they need to go to the sheriff’s office to get their weed, “we usually get a very calm response,” said Matt.

Reunited And It Feel So Good

For just about every lost item is an owner eager for its return. About 35 percent of items in the Lost and Found are reunited with their owners. If you’ve left an item on one of our buses, here’s what you should know to get your item back:
  • If you left your item on a Community Transit or Snohomish County Sound Transit bus, contact the RideStore to see if your item has been found. Call (425) 348-2350 or email ridestore@commtrans.org
  • Lost and found items can be picked up at the RideStore the next business day after 12:00 p.m.
  • When you call, be prepared to identify your item (color, stickers, brand name, etc.).
  • If you lost an item at Everett Station, check with the station’s Customer Service Center.
  • If you lost an item on the Sounder Train, call (888) 889-6398. Select the “Sounder” option and then select “Lost & Found.”

Clockwise left: 30 crates organize found items; bulkier found items take up
the other side of lost and found; a gas-powered pruner was left behind; 
staff examine and log items in all bags that come in; an average dropoff
of found items from a weekend.
Time’s a Tickin’ When Things Go Missin’

If an item has a phone number, we do our best to contact the owner. Otherwise, we wait for a call. Wallets, purses and medications are always given special consideration for quick return to the owner. Other items fall under these hold criteria:
  • Lost items are held in Lost in Found for 30 days, then they are destroyed or donated.
  • Bikes are held offsite for a total of 10 days before being turned over to the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Property Room. When claiming a bike, you’ll need to set-up a time for pick-up. Appointments are available weekdays between 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. by calling (425) 348-2350.
“At the end of the day, we prefer to reunite people with their property,” said Matt.

To that end, our RideStore staff has two pieces of advice for our riders:
  1. Check your seat before getting off the bus and make sure you have all your belongings.
  2. If you think you’ve lost something on one of our buses, give us a call!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Buses will Bypass Heavy Traffic on SB I-5

Beginning this week, Community Transit and Sound Transit buses will use transit-only ramps to bypass heavy traffic on southbound I-5.

Buses will use the ramps at the Mountlake Terrace Freeway Station (MLTFS) and at Northgate to bypass traffic when there is major congestion. Buses will only use the ramps when traffic in the HOV lane is moving significantly below posted speeds and the driver believes the bus can gain a travel time advantage over staying in the HOV lane.

Each of these bypasses is about two-thirds of a mile long, so if both are used, that is nearly 1.5 miles of traffic the buses will be able to avoid on the southbound commute.

The goal is to help keep buses on schedule, which is especially difficult on the southbound morning commute.

At Mountlake Terrace, this means that not every bus that comes through the freeway station will stop for customers. Signs are being posted to notify waiting riders that not all buses will stop.

In the near future, southbound buses will also use the HOV ramp at the Lynnwood Transit Center to bypass heavy traffic. Community Transit is working with the Washington State Department of Transportation on new signage that will allow transit to go straight on those ramps, after stopping, of course.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

I-405 Bus Shoulder Driving May Start Thursday, October 8

On the heels of the new express toll lanes opening on a 17-mile stretch of I-405, commuters can expect to see Community Transit and Sound Transit buses driving on the southbound I-405 right hand shoulder starting tomorrow, October 8.

The Transit Only right-hand shoulder lane is part of the I-405 Express Toll Lanes project and the result of a partnership between Community Transit, King County Metro Transit, Sound Transit and the Washington State Department of Transportation.

The 13-foot wide Transit Only shoulder lane is located on two specific stretches of southbound I-405:
  • Between Highway 527 (Canyon Park exit) and NE 195th Street; and
  • Between Highway 522 and NE 160th Street
Here is a preview of what the bus shoulder driving will look like-- this is actual footage of our drivers in training yesterday afternoon:


Bus shoulder operations are common in other states such as Minnesota and Ohio. Community Transit has entered into an agreement with WSDOT for I-405 shoulder operations in  2010. Community Transit operates Sound Transit express buses in Snohomish County.

Rules of the Road

Just as there are rules for using the express lanes, so too are there rules for buses driving on the shoulder:
  • Buses will use the shoulder lane only during the weekday morning commute (6-9 a.m.)
  • Buses will use the shoulder lane only when regular traffic is running substantially slower than posted speeds.
  • Buses will flash their hazard lights when operating on the shoulder to alert other vehicles.
  • When traffic is running at or close to posted speeds, buses will use the right-hand general purpose traffic lane.
  • If there is a stalled vehicle or another obstruction blocking the shoulder lane, buses will use the right-hand general purpose lane.
For more information about I-405 shoulder lane operations, visit  www.wsdot.wa.gov/Tolling/405/BusShoulderLanes.htm.