About 70 people turned out for the Community Transit Board of Directors public hearing last night on proposed service cuts to take effect in February 2012. A total of 31 people testified.
Seven people testified in favor of bringing back Sunday bus service. They ranged from a single mom who says it’s hard for her to keep or get a job with no reliable transportation on Sundays to DART paratransit customers who have no way to get around those days.
There were five riders commenting on Route 422, which serves Stanwood-Seattle. Each of the five riders testified against Alternative III, which would increase the number of Route 422 trips from three to four but would have the route run only to the Lynnwood Transit Center. From there, riders would transfer to buses running to and from Seattle.
The most common complaint about Alt. III among these Route 422 riders was that they might miss that last bus to Stanwood in the evening and be stuck in Lynnwood. Given the delays that often occur traveling back from Seattle in the evening, they said there could be a very real chance they would miss the ride back to Stanwood. Several riders mentioned that they lived on Camano Island so getting to Stanwood isn’t even the end of their journey; they still need to connect to Island Transit to get home.
Five riders from Gold Bar, Monroe and Snohomish spoke to board members about service along Highway 2. Two of them want to retain the early morning Route 277 trip from Gold Bar. They say ridership along the Gold Bar-Monroe stretch of the route is higher than the agency contends and both may have trouble making it to Monroe to catch the bus due to medical issues. Another rider said Route 424 is already very long and proposed changes in Alternative III would make that trip even longer. “Commuter routes lose less money and keep people working,” he said. A local bus rider was upset that Alternative III would eliminate the 179th-Fryelands loop of Route 270 in Monroe.
Several riders asked why a fare increase was not a part of this package as that may have offset some of the service cuts. This and several other questions are answered in a new FAQ on the Community Transit website.
Two people spoke against the proposal in Alternative III to eliminate Route 412, which winds through Silver Firs on its way to and from Seattle. They felt this was a well used route and the notion of commuter buses now originating at park & rides rather than picking people up in neighborhoods was an erosion to the community quality of life.
Two transit advocates spoke about the poor financial health of all transit agencies in the state and said that more options should be given to transit agencies to raise revenue.
A representative from the Snohomish County Young Democrats said what was most important was to maintain service to the most riders while looking out for the most vulnerable. After reviewing the three alternatives, he said his group felt the best option would be Alternative III with Sunday service.
One gentleman who works at Edmonds Community College spoke against the proposal in all three alternatives to eliminate Route 190 from the Mukilteo Ferry Terminal to EdCC. Although other serve a portion of that same routing, he said there are homes that house EdCC international students that would be left without service and that could jeopardize that program.
One woman said the board members would need superpowers to make the right decision, while yet another woman had a bad experience getting to the hearing via bus and told the board: "All of you should surrender your keys and rely on transit for a week and you'll find that neither Alternatives I, II or III work." Board member Steve Slawson held up his ORCA card and said he does rely on transit.
All testimony was concluded by 6:20 p.m. and the board was set to adjourn its meeting when the issue was raised that one brochure announced the hearing would run from 5-8:30 p.m. CEO Joyce Eleanor told board members and audience that rider alerts were posted on all buses to say that testimony would continue until the last person present had a chance to speak. Although all those present had their opportunity to speak, several board members agreed to stay until 8:30 p.m. in case others showed up later. In fact, three people came between 6:30-7:30 p.m. and each was given a chance to testify.
The formal public comment period runs through July 11. As of this morning, 1,688 online comments have been received.