It’s been well known for awhile that Community Transit plans to expand the Swift network further by 2024 to complement opening of the Lynnwood Link extension and I-405 and SR-522 bus rapid transit (Stride). That said, how the overall network might be shuffled around for local and commuter service has been less clear. Recently, Community Transit announced that the transit agency is currently evaluating what an overhaul of the full bus network will look like once the light rail extension is open at a briefing to the Snohomish County Council on service planning.
The 2024 concepts indicate that the local bus network will grow and improve service to Snohomish County communities with more frequency, coverage, and span of service due to saved service hours from truncating and eliminating commuter routes and increasing revenues. Much of the service planning emphasis will be on how to get bus riders to and from light rail and Sound Transit’s forthcoming Stride service. Community Transit’s own bus rapid transit lines (Swift) will continue to be major workhouses to do this work with the addition of a new Orange Line between McCollum Park Park-and-Ride and Edmonds Community College as well as an extended Blue Line southward to the NE 185th St light rail station in Shoreline. Community Transit will also look at how other first- and last-mile mobility options could factor into connecting local riders with several major transit centers near the county line.
Level of Service to Grow
In recent years, Community Transit has been increasing annual service hours with bouying tax revenues and a sales tax increase authorized in 2015. Once approved, the transit agency began a six-year process to grow annual service hours about 40%.
Annual service hours stand at about 450,000 right now, which made about a 10% year-over-year jump, primarily due to the introduction of Swift Green Line service in March. That number will jump to over 600,000 in 2024. A good chunk of this will become available with saved service hours (noted in orange in the graph) of buses that currently operate on I-5.
Commuter Route Concepts
Community Transit currently has 25 commuter routes (including six Sound Transit-branded routes) that operate between Snohomish County and King County, mostly to Downtown Seattle and University District. Buses spend much of their time stuck in congestion on I-5 and I-405 as well as deadheading (out of service trips to route terminals). The opening of light rail and Stride to Lynnwood will greatly reduce the need for commuter routes running into King County. With the new connections, the I-5 and I-405 service hours could be reinvested to more local versions of the commuter routes to reach light rail and Stride.