On Wednesday, June 15, Community Transit will host its next Community Open House meeting in Monroe, at the High School Performing Arts Center from 6-8 p.m.
Some of the people likely to attend are those bus riders who take Route 424, a commuter route from east Snohomish County to downtown Seattle. Already, this is a long trip, as the bus begins picking up passengers in Snohomish then travels east to Monroe, south to SR522 and I405 then across the always-congested SR520 bridge.
Last week at the Monroe Park & Ride I spoke with a number of Route 424 riders about the alternatives looming for 2012. They pose quite a dilemma. Under Alternatives I and II, the number of trips for that route gets cut from three trips each direction to two trips. As riders pointed out, the buses are already full, especially in the afternoon as people tend to pack into one or two of the three trips home.
Under Alternative III, the number of trips is increased to four in each direction. But the nature of the route is changed to a commuter feeder route. Rather than traveling directly to Seattle, this route would veer from SR522 onto northbound I405, stop at Canyon Park and continue on to the Lynnwood Transit Center. There, riders can transfer to any of a number of buses that go to downtown Seattle. A longer trip, and a transfer.
As I kept repeating last week, and all our staff will continue to tell each rider who is not happy with the choices in the alternatives, we have to cut 20 percent of our costs. There is no way to make people happy with that level of cuts.
The savings in Alts. I and II are obvious; one fewer trip each direction that won't run. The savings in Alt. III come from not having those four buses travel all the way back from Seattle to Snohomish empty.
Essentially, the choices for commuters are between the familiar (Alts. I and II) with the downside being fewer trips. Because the times for those trips have not been figured out yet (that will happen when we're down to one scenario), riders should state their preferred time when giving their input.
The other choice is flexibility (Alt. III) with an upside being more options. In the case of Route 424, there would be more options to catch the bus each way, and more options for connections to and from Seattle. The downside is, of course, more time spent traveling.
Given that there have to be cuts, what are your thoughts about the choices before you for your ride?