I-695 bus cuts will be restored


Community Transit buses and vans soon will run again on Saturdays, Stanwood residents will have more weekday buses to Seattle, and Boeing employees will have two new routes to their Everett aerospace plant.

The CT board of directors unanimously voted yesterday to restore $3.4 million worth of services that were cut earlier this year after passage of Initiative 695, which resulted in less revenue from car-tab fees.

The board approved the routes - to be added in late September - based on the recommendation of a group of CT employees and a citizens-advisory panel, which have been working together since early May on the proposal.

About 86 percent of Saturday service will be reinstated, two new commuter routes from South Snohomish County to Boeing's Everett facility will be established, and two more weekday round trips will be added to Route 422, which now makes one round trip a day from Stanwood to Seattle.

"Our goal is still to restore all service," Community Transit Board Chairman Bob Ostrom said.

The new routes added at the urging of the citizens' and employees' groups is a good start, he said. "They did their homework and did a great job."

Still, the restored routes could be cut once again in the fall of 2001. CT officials said the agency has only enough money to institute these changes for a year, unless the Legislature or voters give CT a new funding source.

The state has given the transit agency about $8 million in tab-tax funds collected in the second half of 1999. CT also got a one-time allotment of about $6.9 million from the state, which provided emergency funding to transit agencies hit by I-695.

CT lost about $18.7 million in annual state revenues because of the initiative approved by state voters last November. I-695 cut state car-tab fees to a flat $30 per vehicle.

The Snohomish County transit agency made 71 service cuts, eliminated 124 jobs and raised some fares as a result of the reduced revenue.

Officials also planned to end evening service, but say that will not be necessary, in part because of the money received from the state. They hope the county's growing economy will bring in enough sales-tax revenue to avoid those cuts for the long term.

They are also looking into ways to generate more revenue, including asking voters to raise sales taxes for transit purposes. The Legislature recently authorized transit agencies to ask voters for such increases.

For the coming year, the citizens' and CT employees' panels decided there were not enough funds to restore Sunday service.

Saturday dial-a-ride van service for the disabled will be restored on those routes that will again have Saturday bus service. Disabled riders were among those hit hardest by CT's cuts.

Janet Burkitt's phone message number is 425-745-7814. Her e-mail address is jburkitt@seattletimes.com