Thursday, April 28, 2016

May is Bike Everywhere Month!

It's that time again! Time to dust off those bikes and get back on the road. Whether you're new to biking, or a seasoned bike commuter, Bike Everywhere Month is a great time to get on your bike and enjoy the spring weather. Bike to work, bike to school, bike to errands, or bike to explore your city. It's easy, helps the environment, and feels great!

This year, we are proud to partner with Cascade Bicycle Club to bring 2016 Bike Everywhere Month festivities to Snohomish County City of Bothell with the Bike Everywhere Challenge and Bike Everywhere Day.
For more information on Bike Everywhere Day and the Bike Everywhere Month Challenge, please visit:

Team VeloCeeTee
Did you know Community Transit has its own bike team? Team VeloCee Tee loves the freedom and flexibility of biking so much, that many of its members bike year round. One team member and year-round bike commuter who is passionate about the benefits of biking is Roland Behee, our Strategic Planning Unit Manager. Roland bikes or combines biking with Swift for easy commutes to and from work. "I like keeping our air clean, I save a lot of money, and it's fun! I always look forward to my commute. How many people can say that?"

For Roland, who has been biking for thirty years, working in our Planning and Development Department presents a unique opportunity where his personal life as a cyclist and his professional life as a planner intersect. Between 20,000 - 22,000 bikes are loaded on and off bus bike racks each month. Half of those are on Swift (6-7% of overall riders, or 400 people per day) where easy bike loading and the ability to carry more cargo add convenience. Roland often wears his planning hat while in bike shorts. "I observe how customers react to and move around with bikes. Sometimes I'll ask questions and get a great open dialogue with passengers."

There has been a lot of progress in recent years by communities in downtown Seattle and Everett to make bicycles feel just like any other vehicle. From sharrow bike lanes (where bikes share the space with automobiles) to dedicated bike lanes to signalized intersections, it's getting easier and easier to get around on your bike. Community Transit is mindful of its impact in this landscape. As someone who both plans bus routes and is an avid cyclist, Roland represents the balance Community Transit seeks when designing routes, "We're aware that as a bus company that we are operating in bike space all the time. We strive to design our routes effectively to create positive experiences for both busing and biking. We try to come up with the best possible solutions for both modes of transportation."

Do you plan to get on your bike for Bike Everywhere Month? Do you utilize transit as part of your bicycling plan? Let us know in the comments!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Meet Joanie Kaemingk: Community Transit Coach Operator

Are you a people person? If so, you know how hard it is to have a job where you don't get to connect with others. Having a thriving eBay store wasn't enough for Joanie Kaemingk. "I just love customer contact. Even though my store was successful, I was really missing that. I just couldn't work alone anymore."

Joanie approached this new career path as a Community Transit Coach Operator with a little nervousness and a lot of energy. "When I started training, I was a little bit scared at first. But Behrooz, Jessica, and Treva in the training department were so good to me and treated me so well. I was determined to do my best."

While her downtown routes are certainly exciting ("I like the people, the congestion, the energy!"), what delights Joanie most are the local routes where she can connect with people. "I really appreciate when I get to help seniors and people with special needs. I'll hear such wonderful stories. One 86 year old customer shared with me how she used to live on a boat, that she retired from Boeing, and how her deceased husband was the love of her life. These people just want to be seen, to have someone listen to their story. I try to treat people with dignity, because you don't know what's going on in someone's life."

Surprising connections go beyond the customer at Community Transit, too. "There's such a sense of community here. Even though I've only been here almost two years, I'm friends with several of the other drivers."

Thank you, Joanie, for sharing your passion for making meaningful connections. Your enthusiasm and kindness make such a difference, to this agency, to your peers, and to our customers.

Do you strive to make an impact on others in your career? Is it important to you to connect with others while at work?

Friday, April 22, 2016

Coach Operator Jay Griggs has the Write Stuff

Coach Operator and author, Jay Griggs poses with his book at a recent book signing.
We all have a story to tell, but how many of us can say their story has been published and is now available for purchase on

Our bus driver Jay Griggs can say that!

His first book, “The Adventures of Duck Poo Island,” has 26 five-star reviews on and he’s already working on his second book. 

The book is a story about two best friends who vow to stay friends despite the odds that promise to divide them. The setting of the story is inspired by a family trip to Green Lake, a couple of pedal boats and a little island. Jay’s book is published by Page Publishing in New York, a partnership he cherishes as they “handle the business end of things, so I can focus on the creative side.” 

Jay credits his mom, Alice, and his favorite teacher, Mrs. Allen, for “instilling in me the love for reading and the passion for writing.” 

Image of book cover for The Adventures of Duck Poo Island by Jay Griggs
The support Jay has received from his co-workers helped increase his fan base, which was very influential in securing next steps for his writing career.

“The turnout at my book signing was amazing. Community Transit has been very supportive, especially, Chris Beck and Emmett Heath for allowing me to do a pre-order sale of my book at work. My co-workers supported me by purchasing copies of my book,” Jay said.

“Working at Community Transit gave me the job security and income that I needed to allow me to pursue my dreams and I’m grateful!” 

You can find Jay’s book available in paperback and for Kindle on When he’s not writing, Jay can be found driving his favorite Routes 201, 202, 130 and a couple of round trips on Route 196. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Double Tall Seat Update: You Asked. We Asked. You Answered. We Fixed!

Last fall, we added 22 new double decker, Double Tall buses to our fleet.

A new Double Tall, double decker bus. It's an Enviro500 manufactured by Alexander Dennis
We were excited to introduce this new version of the Double Tall, with its 76 seats and a larger area for standing passengers. (Compare this to the previous version of the Double Tall which has seats for 77 and carries up to 80 passengers with standing room.)

Plus, the monitor showing the top deck and that 'new bus smell' was pretty cool, too.

Rear-facing seating on the new double decker buses.
Thanks to our riders, we learned that the seating arrangement on the lower level of the new double deckers definitely had more seats, but less leg room due to the configuration of the rear-facing seats.

We brainstormed options and surveyed riders with two questions: 1) "In your opinion, what should be done with the new Double Tall rear-facing seats?" and 2) If the rear-facing seats are removed, what should we do?"

We received 50 responses to our survey and the majority opinion was from our riders was to remove the seats. With that direction, we worked with Alexander Dennis, the manufacturer, to design and manufacture a rack to transform the former rear-facing seats into a place passengers could stow bags and other carry-on items.

Pictured below is the first installation of the new rack with the rear-facing seats removed. The installation takes about two days per double decker bus. Our bus maintenance crew is currently working on removing the rear-facing seats and installing the new rack on the remaining new Double Talls. A second Double Tall has just been completed and our crew anticipates all buses to be completed this summer.

Pictured left, top: The new configuration allows ample leg room and the rack provides a place for stowing bags and gear. Lower left: Approaching seats on the left; Lower middle: View while sitting; Lower right: Approaching seats on the right.

What do you think of the rack and seating?

Thanks to all our riders who participated in the survey and for your continued patience as we worked to resolve this seating issue.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Show Us How You Would "Be a Clean Air Superhero!"

There is only one thing that all of us share...
It nourishes, it refreshes, please love's air!

Did you know that each year cars spew 1.5 tons of pollution into the air around Puget Sound? Our favorite Clean Air Avenger, Oxy Gene, is asking kids of all ages how they would use their super powers to help clean our air!

Kids, be creative! We'll pick a winner from each of four age groups (1-5, 6-8, 9-11, and 12+) to feature here on our blog, on Oxy Gene's web page, on Facebook, and on Twitter. Your picture will help make a difference, inspiring others to keep our air clean!

In conjunction with Earth Week, Oxy Gene will be at the Mill Creek Block Party this Saturday, April 23rd! Come say hello and fill out a flyer during the festivities! Also, keep an eye open for the contest flyers at other Community Transit outreach events in May. In the meantime, we welcome you to download and print the flyer at home and mail it to us at the address on the back. All submissions must be received by May 27, 2016. Winning pictures will be shared weekly during the month of June.

We can't wait to share your winning ideas with the good people of Puget Sound! Good luck!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Meet Phil Halverson: Community Transit Mechanic

When you have a family to take care of, job satisfaction often becomes less about what makes you happy and more about what pays the bills. But what if you could find a job that gives you both? It's possible, here at Community Transit!

Phil Halverson is relatively new to our Maintenance team, recently celebrating his first anniversary with us. Feeling uninspired and undervalued in his early roles maintaining boats and medium duty vehicles, Phil says that working here is about so much more than providing for his family. "The benefits are such a blessing. Plus, they pay you what you're worth." With a starting salary of $30.88 per hour, Mechanics can expect to earn up to $34.41 after 12 months. Community Transit also offers exceptional benefits for the whole family, giving great peace of mind to employees with small children, like Phil.

Feeling valued also goes beyond being compensated fairly, too. Our Mechanics are trained on advanced systems, including APTS (Advanced Public Transportation System) and Hybrid technology. This investment in training adds confidence not only in skills, but in knowing the company you work for believes in you. "We get the support and time we need to do the job the right way. This takes away a lot of pressure. We know we will get the tooling and tech resources we need."

This commitment to the employee does a lot for a positive work environment, too. "Everyone is genuinely happy to be working here. I could see it right away. It was just oozing from everyone I met."

Thank you for sharing your story with us, Phil. We are so happy that you are part of the Community Transit family!

What does feeling valued by your employer mean to you? Is it more than just the salary and benefits?

Friday, April 1, 2016

Community Transit to Celebrate 40th Anniversary with Original Routing

It is well-known lore at Community Transit that when the Snohomish County transit agency started business in 1976 it did not have any specific routes.

One of the Community Transit's first buses
“The early drivers were given a bus and told to go out in the community, near major landmarks and shopping centers, and find people who looked like they needed a ride,” recalled CEO Emmett Heath.

Over the past four decades, those early roots have given way to more sophisticated operations. Today, Community Transit is one of the major transportation agencies in the Puget Sound region, serving 10 million passengers in 2015 with 44 well-defined bus routes.

Later this year, the agency will celebrate its 40th anniversary. A week of rider-focused events is planned for the first week of October. On the agency’s actual birthdate – October 4 – Community Transit will honor its past by returning to original routing for that one day.

“We have quite a few more buses today than we had in 1976, so it will be interesting to see how this works out,” said Heath.

The plan is to have bus drivers check in at their usual time, then take a bus and follow their instincts as to where people might be needing a lift. While park & rides seem like an obvious location for potential riders, they didn’t exist in the ‘70s, so drivers will be told to avoid them for authenticity’s sake.

“We want our riders to experience what it was really like to use our service that first day,” said Heath.

Regular routes and schedules will resume on October 5. Later that week, riders will be treated to a forward-looking event when all buses will be put on auto-pilot.

Happy April Fools’ Day!