Snohomish County, Wash. – Forecasting a slow economic recovery, Community Transit’s draft six-year Transit Development Plan (TDP), 2012-17, forecasts no new service growth for the Snohomish County public transit agency in that timeframe. Following a 20 percent service cut due to take place in February 2012, the report projects that demand for transit will grow while the ability to provide new service will not keep pace.
The TDP is required by the state to document agency financial forecasts and service plans in the near-term future. The new report comes a year early after most major goals of Community Transit’s 2008-13 plan were met, despite a sharp drop in revenues that were not projected when that plan was written.
Since 2008, Community Transit has:
Completed the Cedar and Grove Park & Ride in Marysville;
Completed the Mountlake Terrace Transit Center and parking garage;
Implemented the Curb-the-Congestion transportation demand management program in partnership with Snohomish County;
Implemented the ORCA smart card program in partnership with other agencies;
Implemented Swift bus rapid transit along Highway 99;
Kept fares consistent with recovery ratio goals;
Procured 23 Double Tall double decker replacement buses with grant funds; and
Written a 20-year Long Range Transit Plan in partnership with the county and cities.
Nearly all the above projects had been in development before the 2008-13 plan was written. In 2008, however, the agency’s sales tax revenues dropped 18 percent and have not recovered. The agency cut expenses, borrowed from reserves, raised fares twice and cut service to balance its budget. When Community Transit reduces service in February 2012, it will have cut service by 37 percent and eliminated 29 percent of its workforce in just three years.
The new draft TDP projects minimal economic growth over the next six years, and plans for the agency to use that money to catch up on a backlog of facility repairs and upgrades at its base and park & rides that have been delayed, as well as replenish its bus replacement reserves.
New service growth would only occur if the economy recovers faster than projected or if new funding comes to the agency. The State Legislature is poised to take up transportation funding during its 2012 session. Transit agencies throughout the state are expected to ask for funding to get through the economic recovery as well as more stable funding sources than the sales tax, which historically drops as the economy falters.
Community Transit is at its legislated maximum sales tax authority and would need approval from the state to seek additional funding.
Community Transit is seeking public comment on the draft six-year plan now through December 16. A public hearing on the plan will take place before the Board of Directors at 3 p.m. Dec. 1 in the Community Transit Board Room, 7100 Hardeson Road, Everett (accessible by Everett Transit Route 8).
The plan can be reviewed at www.communitytransit.org/futureplans. Comments can be sent to email@example.com or mailed to Community Transit, 7100 Hardeson Road, Everett 98203.
Community Transit is responsible for providing transportation options for Snohomish County residents, including bus and paratransit service, vanpool and ridesharing options. Call Community Transit at (425) 353-RIDE or (800) 562-1375 for bus information, or (888) 814-1300 for carpool or vanpool information, or go towww.communitytransit.org. You can also read our blog at www.communitytransit.blogspot.com, visit our Facebook page or see us on YouTube. Support local businesses and Community Transit when you Buy Local for Transit; read more at www.communitytransit.org/buylocal.