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Community Transit proposes Everett service takeover

EVERETT — City officials asked Community Transit to present what merging city-run Everett Transit into the county-wide bus system might look like.
A merged system could give riders increased bus frequency, extended hours when buses run, and an enlarged Swift system within Everett, Community Transit laid out to the City Council last week.
Community Transit would intend to build off of Everett Transit’s current bus routes, and then add more hours and more service to Everett, said Community Transit’s planning manager Roland Beehee.
Community Transit says its size would let it expand service quicker than Everett Transit can.
“We believe a unification would move us closer to a transportation system that helps make transportation easier for everyone,” Community Transit’s CEO Emmett Heath said for his pitch, adding that this would also give Everett a stronger voice on regional transit issues.
Integrating the two transit systems would require voter approval by way of a ballot measure.
The City Council will continue studying the idea at a future meeting near the end of the year.
Heath said Community Transit’s cash reserves would let it weather a recession to keep up services.
It charges a higher local tax rate than Everett Transit, at 1.2 percent sales tax. Everett Transit’s rate is half that at 0.6 percent. Community Transit is largely funded through sales taxes. A merger would have Everett residents adopt the higher sales tax rate.
Everett Transit could increase its services within Everett if it had the same sales tax rate, said Steve Oss, the president of the local union for Everett Transit drivers.
Sales taxes account for over $20 million of Everett Transit’s $30 million budget; renting Everett Station and fares help cover a portion of the rest.
Union-wise, drivers in Everett Transit and Community Transit are represented by separate local branches of the same central transit union.
Murmurs of merging transit systems have existed for the past few years.
Everett is an anomaly today among the state’s 10 most-populated cities by having an in-city bus system. Seattle is served by the green and yellow buses of the regional King County Metro system. Spokane Transit has a wide footprint that extends outside city limits.



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