Monday, December 21, 2015

Smart Transportation Choices Get Rewarded

Smart Commuter of the Quarter, Erin from AT&T
Community Transit’s Choice Connection program promotes smart transportation options throughout our community. Two innovative incentive programs are offered to help reduce traffic congestion and pollution, and encourage healthy travel options:
  • Smart Commuter Rewards is an incentive program that helps large businesses motivate employees to reduce their drive-alone trips to work.
  • Curb the Congestion promotes smart transportation options to residents and employees on six of Snohomish County’s most congested corridors. 
From January-September these programs combined have already removed over 376,522 drive-alone trips for our roads and 3.5 million pounds of CO2 from the air we breathe. Each quarter Community Transit recognizes standout participants and employers who are dedicated to smart transportation choices and healthy transportation options. Congratulations to the Choice Connections award winners for 3rd Quarter of 2015:

Curb the Congestion Champion of the Quarter

Valauri Stotler of Lynnwood uses bus, carpool, light rail and walking for 99% of all the trips she makes. These trips include commuting to work to the City of Seattle, walking to the store and getting to the airport. Over the past year her smart transportation choices saved over 7,900 drive alone miles, 3,870 pounds of CO2 from the air we breathe and over $1,500 in personal transportation expenses.

Smart Commuter of the Quarter

Erin, a Senior Field Asset Administrator, tracks and reports out AT&T’s network assets. She walks the talk by choosing to walk, vanpool, bike or telecommute to work for over 15 years. Erin is dedicated to a healthy lifestyle and environment, and makes smart transportation choices a priority not only for her commute from Seattle to Bothell, but also for most of her personal trips.

Employee Transportation Coordinator (ETC) of the Quarter

Dena Searcy of Comcast Lynnwood is committed to making her worksite transportation program a success. Her diligent efforts to train and educate her employees about their transportation options have made a huge impact. Dena registered 111 employees in their transportation program, far surpassing their original goal of 65. Her efforts helped to save over 7,600 pounds of CO2 pollution during in the third quarter alone.

Employer of the Quarter

Vertafore in Bothell makes smart transportation choices a priority at their workplace. By the end of the third quarter they registered over a third of their employees in RideshareOnline.com; connecting their employees to transportation resources and incentives. Their consistent efforts are making a huge impact, and during the third quarter alone they saved over 32,500 drive alone miles from our roadways.

To learn more about the Choice Connections program and to sign up to start receiving rewards for your smart transportation choices, please visit www.communitytransit/ChoiceConnections.

Friday, December 11, 2015

October Brings Winners Across Snohomish County




Wheel Options is a statewide promotion that encourages commuters to choose alternatives to driving alone to work. Eligible modes include carpool, vanpool, bus, train, light rail, streetcar, biking, walking, and working from home or a compressed work schedule (e.g. four, 10-hour shifts in a week). Across the state of Washington more than 18,000 commuters participated by logging six or more days of eligible commutes during the month of October. This year the Wheel Options grand prize was a $2,500 “Choose Your Own Adventure” travel package.

A huge congratulations to each of the winners from Snohomish County and the City of Bothell:

Weekly winners

$25 Starbucks – Scott Farrand from Edmonds Community College (Lynnwood)

$25 Target – Evan Gustafson from Leviton Networks (Bothell)

$25 Nike – Dan Britten from Genzyme (Lynnwood)

$25 Gap – Ryan Bentz from Panasonic Avionics (Bothell)


Monthly winners courtesy of Community Transit

$100 MasterCard - Noor Panjwani from T-Mobile (Bothell)

$100 MasterCard - Randal Stocking from Sonosite (Bothell)

$100 MasterCard - Daniel Dootson from Edmonds Community College (Lynnwood)

$100 MasterCard - Kevin Lai from Boeing Harbour Point (Mukilteo)

$100 MasterCard - Bridgett Hogue from Boeing Canyon Park East (Bothell)
 

For more information on Wheel Options and for a complete list of winners please visit http://www.wheeloptions.org.
 

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Swift Bus Rapid Transit Turns 6


Riders love Swift, especially on the weekend!

This week marks the sixth anniversary of Swift bus rapid transit in Snohomish County.

The state’s first BRT line has become the cornerstone of Community Transit's bus system, carrying about 5,500 riders each weekday and more than 1.5 million a year. One in six of all Community Transit riders, or about 16 percent of the agency’s ridership is on Swift.

But on weekends, ah, on weekends these numbers are much more impressive!

Nearly 3,800 riders take Swift every Saturday, which is 30 percent of all riders. With Sunday service restored, there are about 2,800 riders boarding Swift every Sunday, or 33 percent of all riders.

The fact is that Swift has proven to be a very convenient way to get around. Pretty good for a six year old! And soon, Swift will have a baby brother (or sister – we won’t know until 2018).

When the next Swift line is up and running, we will have an established BRT network in Snohomish County. With a convenient transfer point at Highway 99 and Airport Road, there will be fast, frequent service across a major part of the county.

Before long, a whole Swift family will be serving the entire county. A third line is already in the conceptual stage to connect with Link light rail at the Lynnwood Transit Center. Our long-range plan calls for eventual Swift service north to Smokey Point and east to Highway 9.

In coming weeks, all Swift buses will get a new decal reminding us of what’s to come. The decal will say, “We’re building a network of Swift lines with fast, easy connections.”

For now, there is one more improvement to the original Swift line coming soon. The new College Station at 204th Street will provide more convenient southbound access to Edmonds Community College. Construction of this final station on the first Swift line is underway and it will be open when students return from the holiday break.

Happy anniversary, Swift!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

What Will We Do if The Big One Hits? We're Getting Ready, Just in Case.



By Steven Winecoff, Manager of Transportation Administration

On Thursday, November 12 at 8:45 a.m., a simulated 9.0 earthquake occurred off the Pacific coast, causing major damage throughout the Puget Sound region.

At Community Transit, dispatchers and managers scrambled to contact drivers in the field to ensure that buses and passengers were safe and accounted for. Communication channels were spotty.

At the same time, all our employees were evacuated from their buildings and few were allowed back in due to lengthy inspection times and areas of clear structural damage.

Many workers, at our base and on the road, were anxious to get home to check on their families, as cell phone and Internet communication channels were overwhelmed.

Using real system data, such as how many buses were on the road at that time, and possible events, such as dispatch centers being inoperable, 29 Community Transit employees from various departments participated in a five-hour tabletop emergency response exercise that day to respond as they would if this event really happened.

Our objective was to assess Community Transit’s response and readiness. This is not just about planning for a possible earthquake, but helping us plan for “All Hazards” types of events so we can be better prepared in the event of any emergency. Our next step is an agency-wide debrief to discuss action items that arose from this tabletop event. 

The exercise also helped to prepare our agency for the “Cascadia Rising” Earthquake & Tsunami Functional Exercise that will take place in June 2016. This drill is being planned by FEMA and other state and regional partners. It is one more in a series of preparedness exercises our agency, and our partners, undertake to ensure the safety and security of our passengers and employees.

Read more about the possibility of “The Really Big One” in New Yorker magazine. For more information on personal preparedness please visit www.snohomishcountywa.gov or www.fema.gov.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A Note of Thanks to our Veterans


How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes!” - Maya Angelou

Every year, on November 11, Americans have the opportunity to honor the bravery and service of all U.S. veterans.

At Community Transit, we are honored to work alongside 92 veterans every day. They represent the five armed service branches (Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps and Navy) and are found throughout the agency in our Transportation, Maintenance, Sales & Distribution and Capitol Planning areas.

For the past three years, we've posted the names of our veterans throughout the agency and given them pins to wear for the day to recognize their service. (Pictured to the left is the pin veterans will be wearing for Veterans Day 2015.)

Community Transit thanks all the veterans in our lives, including those who drive, maintain and support our transit service! Please join us in thanking our veterans for their service and sacrifice.

Want to send an eCard to the veterans in your life? Click here to send a thank you eCard to your favorite veteran (courtesy of GovLoop).

How will you be honoring your favorite veteran on Veterans Day?


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.