Everett’s effort to develop a 20-year, long-term strategy for its city-operated bus system is moving forward with two competing options. One option would add service coverage to more areas of Everett, another would bolster frequency across a smaller set of corridors. The tradeoffs between the two options include wait times, walking distance, equity, and directness to destinations. Both options would greatly increase ridership over the baseline numbers of today and virtually every aspect of service would improve in some way. Everett also plans to ensure that its transit services directly connect with regional investments in high capacity transit (e.g., Swift, North Link, and North Sounder).

The baseline service for Everett is highly dispersed and low frequency across the city. Only one route (Route 7) stretching from Everett Community College to the Everett Mall via Evergreen Way meets the standard of frequent service. Buses come every 15 minutes during most peak and midday hours on weekdays. The line also acts as a shadow local line to the Swift Blue line on Evergreen Way. Other routes fill in the gaps with low to modest service levels, many of which primarily provide circulator and commuter functions. Routes tend to be indirect in many cases making substantial diversions from main corridors, operating in one-way loops, and circling their own paths. Still, the baseline service does provide a high level of coverage to communities in Everett and 6,500 daily trips.

Generalized service pattern under the existing system. Note that green lines represent Community Transit buses and blue line is commuter rail. (City of Everett)
Generalized service pattern under the existing system. Note that green lines represent Community Transit buses and blue line is commuter rail. (City of Everett)

The coverage option places a strong emphasis on a broad network of routes in Everett, though some consolidation of corridors is considered. Two corridors would form a north-south spine from North Everett to South Everett via the city center. The future Link extension to Everett factors somewhat into the plan since local and frequent routes would tie into the proposed light rail stations. Despite this, frequency off-peak would generally be about 20 minutes with many routes being half-hourly or more. Only during peak periods would average wait times be reduced to 13 minutes or so.

There is a variety of positive attributes to the coverage option. More areas in Everett would be served by transit allowing shorter walks to buses than the frequency option. Because of this, more residents would be directly served by transit. 75% of low-income and minority residents would be within walking distance of a bus stop while 70% of all Everett residents would be within walking distance. These numbers suggest high access and equity by households covered by the proposed service. However, it’s projected to get lower total daily ridership than the frequency option.

Generalized service pattern under the coverage option. Note that green lines represent Community Transit buses and blue lines represent light rail and commuter rail. (City of Everett)
Generalized service pattern under the coverage option. Note that green lines represent Community Transit buses and blue lines represent light rail and commuter rail. (City of Everett)

The frequency option is focused on a fewer number of corridors and high levels of service throughout the day. Peak period service would average every 10 minutes while off-peak service would every 12 minutes. In addition to core north-south routes on Evergreen Way and Broadway, this option would help spread frequent corridors to Paine Field, Seahurst, Boeing, Lowell, and Port of Everett using a mix of new east-west and north-south corridors. Most of the corridors would directly integrate with light rail and other transit connections to promote regional access.

The tradeoff here is that fewer residents and jobs would be within walking distance of transit, but daily ridership would be about 14% higher than the coverage option. The higher level of frequency would also likely promote transit as a primary mode for riders as opposed to just a commuting or special events tool. This attribute is not represented in the analysis.

Generalized service pattern under the frequency option. Note that green lines represent Community Transit buses and blue lines represent light rail and commuter rail. (City of Everett)
Generalized service pattern under the frequency option. Note that green lines represent Community Transit buses and blue lines represent light rail and commuter rail. (City of Everett)

Simplifying the options at a higher level, Everett Transit has distilled key aspects of the options into a variety of metrics:

AspectsFrequency OptionCoverage OptionExisting Service
Number of daily rides by passengers16,00014,0006,500
Percent of people that commute by transit15%14%9%
Frequency during peak commute periods10 minutes13 minutes17 minutes
Frequency during midday, nights, and weekends12 minutes20 minutes23 minutes
Percent of people and jobs within walking distance of transit60% of residents70% of residents70% of residents
Percent of low-income and minority residents within walking distance of transit65%75%74%
Percent of trips providing direct connection to destination79%82%80%
Travel time examples (includes estimated wait, walk, and in-transit travel time)
Twin Creeks to Boeing40 to 45 minutes50 to 60 minutes60 to 70 minutes
Everett Mall to Downtown Everett35 to 40 minutes40 to 45 minutes45 to 50 minutes
Northwest Everett to Everett Station25 to 30 minutes20 to 25 minutes25 to 30 minutes

Public comment on the service options is open through October 30th. An online open house and survey is available throughout the comment period providing an opportunity to dig deeper into the options and understand the tradeoffs between them. An in-person open house will also be held this Saturday (October 28th) from 4pm to 6pm at the Everett Mall.

Everett Transit Kicks Off Long-Range Planning Process

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Stephen is an urban planner with a passion for promoting sustainable, livable, and diverse cities. He advocates for smart policies, regulations, and implementation programs that enhance urban environments by committing to quality design, accommodating growth, providing a diversity of housing choices, and adequately providing public services. Stephen primarily writes about land use and transportation issues.