Public outcry convinces Community Transit to drop plan that would have reduced service on vital routes in Mill Creek

Approved changes set to begin in September include new Boeing route, additional Seattle trips and Swift Green Line service
By Dan Aznoff | May 18, 2017
Photo by: Carolyn Drake This trio of Community Transit riders were thrilled to learn the system’s board of directors had bowed to public pressure and voted not to reduce service to portions of Route 115 that serve Mill Creek along the Bothell-Everett Hwy.   Jewels McAuliffe (left) lives at the Laurels Apartments and has become dependent on public transit due to car troubles. Kasey Rackowitz (center) relies on CT to get to and from the skate park. Bryan Dennis (holding pamphlet) was relieved to learn that he would not be forced to ask friends and family for rides.

Input from residents frightened that the proposed changes to bus service would have left them without their only source of transportation helped persuade Community Transit to modify the proposed changes to routes on major arterials that serve Mill Creek.

The final plan approved by the CT board differs slightly from a proposal offered to riders in March based purely on customer feedback, according to CT spokesperson Martin Munguia.

“Community Transit exists to serve the needs of our riders,” Munguia told The Beacon. “The board—and our CEO (Emmett Heath) – heard the public outcry and acted accordingly.”

Munguia said customer feedback led to the agency retaining Route 115 along its current path. The route will now terminate at the McCollum Park & Ride.

The campaign to maintain the current level of service along the Bothell-Everett Hwy and into the Mays Pond community was spearheaded by disabled bus rider Carolyn Drake who served as the voice for disabled and elderly bus riders who would have been impacted by the initial route proposal.

Drake added that residents of the Mays Pond community will be thrilled by the decision to not change service along Route 106.

“I think most people were skeptical that Community Transit would listen to their comments,” Drake said. “The process was intimidating, but they (the CT board) stepped up to the plate.”

The retired lawyer said Heath delivered on his promise.

“I am ecstatic that I can go back to tending my garden with confidence that next year I’ll be able to get to the nurseries without transit fuss.”

The reaction Drake received from the bus drivers made her smile.

“What has surprised me most is how invested the 115 drivers were in the proposed changes and how happy they are that service won't be eliminated along Bothell-Everett Highway,” said Drake. “We might not know each other's names, but we connect and become friendly on the bus. None of them approved of cutting off loyal customers. Apparently they have more loyalty to CT passengers than the CEO and the planners.”

A young neighbor told Drake that she was “damn proud of herself“ that her comments actually made a difference. She woman said the experience made her feel “empowered.”

Mill Creek resident Brian Carter said the reduction of service would have “messed things up big time” for his daily commute to Virginia Mason in Seattle.

Carter was a long-haul trucker until diabetes ended his career.  He now cares for his elderly mother I addition to his duties at Virginia Mason. He added that CT service to Seattle allows him to keep his mint condition truck in the garage.

The final plan approved by the board of directors will increase service by 6 percent this fall, including two routes that will serve the Boeing-Paine Field area from through Mill Creek that serve south Snohomish County.

The changes inspired by Drake and her band of activists includes service on Route 105 in Mill Creek from the Mariner Park & Ride via Airport Road to serve Paine Field, Boeing, Seaway Blvd. and Hardeson Road in south Everett. These extended trips will operate both directions on weekdays only from 5 until 8 a.m. and again from 1:45 until 6 p.m.

The revised schedule, said Munguia, was designed to improve transit connections throughout the county, add more weekday trips to Seattle and UW and boost Sunday bus service with more frequent buses and later hours on the some routes.

All of the changes will begin this fall, except for the extension of late-night Sunday service, which will take effect in March 2018.

The approved plan includes one new route as well as revisions to several existing bus lines and expanded DART service that provides transportation to elderly and disabled riders.

New route

A new Route 107 will operate between Lynnwood Transit Center and Boeing/Paine Field via Mukilteo Speedway. The route will operate on weekdays in each direction during peak hours. There will be three morning northbound trips and three evening southbound trips to meet the growing demand for service to Paine Field from the south.

Revised routes

  • Route 196 will be extended north to the Ash Way Park & Ride, increasing bus service between Ash Way and Alderwood Mall and providing a new regional connection.
  • Route 209 will be extended north to the Smokey Point Transit Center via I-5, creating new connections between Smokey Point and Quil Ceda Village for Routes 220, 230 & 240.
  • Routes 270, 271 & 280 will not change routing in downtown Everett. Customer feedback led the agency to not recommend changes to these routes at this time.
  • Route 277 will be eliminated. Hwy 2 service to Boeing will be provided by extended trips on Routes 270 & 271.
  • Route 280 peak hour trips ending in Lake Stevens will have a shorter turnaround to/from 20th Street. Also, Route 280 will be realigned in Granite Falls off Hwy 92 via Quarry Road, Burn Road and Jordan Road to serve Granite Falls High School and new development in that area. No other routing changes will take place at this time.

There will be 23 additional trips to downtown Seattle and the University of Washington. Trips will be split between morning and evening service, with the majority of trips serving downtown. Routes and trips will be determined based on ridership demand.

There will be 37 midday trips added on Routes 240, 271 and 280 routes on Sunday to create 60-minute, all-day service.

DART expansion

The approved service expansion proposal includes service to new areas, as well as expanded hours of operation for DART paratransit service. DART is available to eligible residents within three-quarters of a mile from a local, non-commuter fixed route during the same hours the bus operates.

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