The service change that took place yesterday was in the works for nearly a year. That's the time it took to get guidance from our Board (once we knew how much money we needed to save), develop three alternative scenarios, present them to the public and gather feedback, go through the Board decision process, then fully schedule the final service plan, train drivers, produce signage and information materials and start the new service.
It is near the tail end of that process, after we have fully scheduled the service plan, that we reach out to cities and the county to talk about where we want to locate new bus stops. Each jurisdiction has a separate bureaucracy for dealing with such requests, with their own criteria and timelines.
What we submit are requests based on what we feel is the best place for riders to catch a particular bus. This year, our route shuffling was designed to eliminate loops and deviations - in other words, make the routes as direct as possible to save time and money. Most requests are granted, but not always; sometimes we are given alternatives to consider, and sometimes flatly denied.
Sometimes the process goes beyond the time frame in which we need to produce Bus Plus, maps and other public information.
Just last week, we were granted permission to put two new temporary stops on Marine Drive outside the Warm Beach Senior Community near Stanwood. The timing on that decision was close! We are still awaiting decisions from the City of Lynnwood on stop requests for Routes 112 and 196 near the Lynnwood Transit Center. Obviously, the new service has already started, so the omission of those stops is glaring. We are forwarding comments from our customers to the city, but it is their decision to make. The service still works without those stops, but it may not be as convenient for some customers.
We can add stops at any time during the year, not just at a service change. With the vast number of changes that took place this week, there are bound to be some tweaks here or there. Most tweaking will happen when we publish new schedules on Oct. 1, but if stop requests are granted before then, we could make some changes sooner.