Bus agency proposes increase in service

EVERETT — Community Transit's proposed 2003 budget would modify 10 local bus routes, increase service hours and bus frequency, and replace 50 of the 308 buses in its fleet.

The public transit company, which serves Snohomish County, will hold a public meeting Nov. 7 to discuss the budget and bus-service changes slated to go into effect in February.

The agency's general-fund budget would grow to $75 million in 2003, up from $63 million this year. Community Transit also has "carry-over" funding not spent in previous years and money from a 0.3-cent sales-tax increase that voters approved last year.

Community Transit began planning route changes earlier this year, said spokeswoman Kristin Kinnamon. Changes would affect half of the 20 "local" routes — which cover a small radius around Everett — but not 34 commuter routes, mostly running between Snohomish and King counties. No fare increases are planned next year.

Four bus lines carrying 70 percent of Community Transit's riders — Routes 210, 610, 620 and 621 — would change both their numbers and routes.

"Some of our changes will get people places faster," Kinnamon said, citing a route between Monroe and Everett that would use Interstate 5 rather than local roads.

The company has hired Seattle consulting firm Apco Worldwide to help market the changes next year.

Kinnamon said that Community Transit ridership and service grew through 1999, when budget cuts forced a reduction in service, and that the 2003 expansion would bring ridership back to earlier levels. Ridership reached 8.8 million people in 1999 but was down to 8.2 million last year.

"That's great, but not if you think about how fast the county is growing," Kinnamon said.

Jane Hodges: 425-745-7813 or jhodges@seattletimes.com.

Budget meeting

The Community Transit board will hold a public meeting at 3 p.m. Nov. 7 at its offices at 7100 Hardeson Road, Everett.