Ct To Expand Commuter Service -- Weekend Runs Will Be Offered


When Community Transit's new schedules go into effect next Monday, bus riders on commuter routes to and from Seattle and on routes within Snohomish County will find buses available earlier in the morning and later at night during the week.

And CT will add its first Saturday commuter service to downtown Seattle and to the University District starting June 16 as part of the service expansion made possible by the sales tax increase approved by voters in February.

The next big change will come in September, when bus service will be extended to Sundays on Snohomish County routes.

For the Saturday commuter service, park-and-ride lots at Mariner (128th Street in Everett); Lynnwood, Swamp Creek and Mountlake Terrace will be the starting and ending points. Thirteen round-trips will be available - about one an hour - with the first leaving at 7:30 a.m. and the last departing Seattle at 8:15 p.m.

Buses to the University District will run every hour starting at 7 a.m.

Service within the county will start earlier and will be more frequent. Generally, trips will begin an hour earlier and end an hour later.

After some debate, the CT board also decided to participate in ``Easy Streets,'' a Downtown Seattle Association marketing program, in an effort to help promote CT's new Saturday commuter service.

Under the program, bus riders spending $20 or more in any of 200 participating Seattle stores will get a token worth a free ride on a CT or a Metro bus, on a waterfront trolley or on the monorail; $1 off on parking in the 320 participating parking garages or lots; or $1 off a fare with Pioneer Cab Co.

The association will promote CT's participation in its $100,000-a-year marketing campaign. CT, whose fare between Seattle and Snohomish County is $1.35, will subsidize those riding with tokens worth 45 cents a ride.

For a year, the subsidy will cost an estimated $1,000 to $3,000, said Ken Graska, CT director. He said fewer than 2,000 subsidized rides a year are projected.

Although the Easy Streets program also will cover commuters traveling weekdays, CT officials are estimating that few regular riders will make use of the tokens because they have monthly passes.

It wasn't easy to get approval for CT's participation in Easy Streets. When it went to the CT board in early May, members split on the issue, failing to approve it on a 4-4 deadlock. One issue raised was whether CT should promote a program encouraging shopping in Seattle rather than in Snohomish County.

``Our job is to get people out of their cars and into the bus system,'' said board member Tina Roberts, a Lynnwood city councilwoman who supported the program. She was joined by County Councilman Peter Hurley, Stanwood Mayor Robert Larson, and CT chairman and Marysville Mayor Rita Matheny. It was opposed by Mayors John Walker of Sultan and Gordon Tjerne of Monroe, and Councilmen Pat McMahan of Mountlake Terrace and Bill Kasper of Edmonds.

The issue came back in late May and County Councilman Bill Brubaker, who was on Navy duty during the previous meeting, joined those in favor, as did Kasper, who said he changed his mind.

``Buses run both ways,'' said Larson, who put the issue back on the agenda.

Larson and Brubaker also emphasized that Snohomish County shouldn't send a negative message to Seattle when much depends on that city's cooperation in planning for a rail system.

Graska was authorized to sign a 15-month contract with the Downtown Seattle Association.