Everett Transit to bring back Sunday bus service in March
EVERETT — Everett Transit will be running buses on Sunday again starting in March, the city confirmed last week.
Transit’s revised 2021 schedule will be posted soon, city spokeswoman Kimberley Cline said.
Sunday service was cut last year as one of the many budget cuts made after the pandemic decimated ridership numbers for Everett Transit, like most transit agencies. Since then, ridership is slowly returning, but not yet to pre-pandemic levels.
The city’s public transit system is back on sustainable financial footing, it was revealed last week, but this came at a price. Everett Transit will need to regrow its services so it can succeed in its mission to adequately serve riders, its leadership emphasized during a presentation to the City Council last week.
To help get there, Everett Transit may consider asking voters for a tax rate bump soon.
Everett Transit is self-funded through fares and a city sales tax for transit. Its tax is 6 cents for every $10 spent locally.
The agency could ask voters to make the rate 9 cents for every $10 spent.
Making the rate 0.9 percent would mean millions to Transit’s bottom line, and the fastest way it could bring back routes.
Presentation materials at last week’s council meeting sounded hopeful the increased tax rate would be approved by voters and in effect by 2024.
The city is also still studying whether it’s a good idea to merge operations with Community Transit, the regional bus system.
For comparison, Community Transit’s rate is 12 cents per $10, or 1.2 percent, which would become the transit tax rate for Everett if the two bus systems merged (merging would require voter approval, too).
The city system is now sustainable through 2040 as-is after receiving $9.4 million in federal grants and one-time payments from the federal government. The reversal of fortune isn’t fully gilded, though, its director noted.
The federal money, combined with service cuts made in 2020, “has allowed us to reset our ship,” director Tom Hingson said, “but it is by no means enough service to provide the level of service customers need today.”
The cuts took down bus frequencies. Routes that usually came every 30 minutes now arrive every 45, and routes that came on 45-minute intervals now arrive once an hour.
These service levels may continue without new revenue in the foreseeable future, Hingson said. The agency is holding onto money for when it needs to replace buses.
Approximately 60 percent of city residents live within five minute walking distance to a transit stop, but only about 15 percent live within a five minute walk to what’s called a “usable” transit stop — a bus stop that has a bus that comes by every 30 minutes or better, city staff member Richard Tarry said during a presentation. About the same percent of Everett residents live within a five-minute walk to get to
“high quality” transit that stops on a frequency of 15 minutes of less.
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