Bus service cut after I-695

When Community Transit (CT) buses hit Snohomish County's roads tomorrow, it will be their last weekend run for now and into the foreseeable future.

Special transit service for the elderly and disabled also will end. Eleven bus routes are being canceled, and dozens of CT employees are being laid off.

On Sunday, the transit agency will implement the first round of service cuts to make up for lost revenue from Initiative 695.

That measure eliminated the motor-vehicle excise tax and reduced car-tab fees to a flat $30. Excise-tax money had accounted for $18 million, or 30 percent, of CT's annual operating budget.

The CT board, elected officials from all over Snohomish County, approved the service cuts and fare increases several months ago.

The agency has been telling riders of the cuts through community meetings around the county.

"Rider alert" signs warning of the changes have been posted at bus stops and on buses. Since mid-January, CT has sent representatives to park-and-ride lots in the evenings to explain the cuts to commuters.

CT is also increasing fares on some routes from 40 percent to 64 percent and increasing van-pool fares 100 percent over two years.

CT spokeswoman Dayna Kennedy said the agency is committed to restoring all service. But unless the agency secures other funding, such as from the Legislature, CT will not be able to restore any services, the agency's executive director, Joyce Olson, said.

Meanwhile, the union representing CT bus drivers has voiced no confidence in Olson by a 332-34 vote. The vote of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1576 was triggered in part by CT's decision to lay off 76 of its 320 drivers.

Pat Connelly, the union's financial secretary, said results, which were tallied about three weeks ago, were not immediately announced because the drivers had hoped to persuade the agency to reverse its decision to cut weekend service.

The resolution, announced yesterday, also alleges that CT has engaged in unfair labor practices.

Sound Transit has contracted with CT to handle commuter service within Snohomish County. While transit agencies in King and Pierce counties are using their own drivers for their commuter service, CT has hired a subcontractor, Coach USA, that is paying its drivers lower wages and giving fewer benefits, said David Thompson, vice president of Local 1576.

Drivers have been angry with CT management for some time, and the agency's decision to cut weekend service "pushed everybody over the edge," Thompson said.

Union members plan to give passengers informational fliers tomorrow, Connelly said.

"The leaflets are going to say . . . we deeply regret we were unable to persuade the company to change their course of action. You can contact the individuals (listed) below," he said. The leaflets will list the names of CT's board of directors, Olson and other managers.

CT officials have said if they didn't make some service cuts now, they would have to make larger cuts next year, if new revenues weren't found.

CT leaders said that if anyone should forget about the service cuts, the agency will have supervisors at several stops Sunday to remind people of the changes.

Those stops include downtown Everett, the Lynnwood Park & Ride and the Mariner Park & Ride in South Everett.

Routes eliminated

Eleven bus routes will be eliminated starting Sunday as Community Transit tries to cover a budget shortfall from Initiative 695. The routes are:

Route 147, Edmonds, Perrinville, Beverly Park and Boeing.

Route 150, Mill Creek and Edmonds.

Route 157, Mountlake Terrace, Lynnwood and Boeing.

Route 187, Canyon Park, Mill Creek and Boeing.

Route 250, Smokey Point and Marysville.

Route 257, Stanwood, Smokey Point and Boeing.

Route 260/261, Marysville and Lake Stevens.

Route 617, Aurora Village, Edmonds Park-and-Ride, Highway 99 and Boeing.

Route 760, Silver Firs.

Route 767, Silver Firs and Boeing.

Route 287, Granite Falls, Lake Stevens and Boeing. (Route 287 passengers have service available through Route 280.)

Special Material

Where's the bus?Community Transit routes that will be cut BY:Frank Vinluan, Diane Brooks