It's a familiar ritual, repeated every 15 or 20 minutes daily along the heavily trafficked intersection of Highway 99 and Airport Road at...
It’s a familiar ritual, repeated every 15 or 20 minutes daily along the heavily trafficked intersection of Highway 99 and Airport Road at the Everett city limits.
A Community Transit (CT) bus heading north turns right onto Airport Road to disgorge a load of passengers who need to continue north. Then the men, women and children who want to continue into Everett must trek back to the intersection and make a group street crossing to reach their next portal, an Everett Transit bus stop in front of Home Depot.
Traffic speeding along a right-turn lane from Highway 99 doesn’t always stop, and sometimes passengers who spot a waiting Everett bus will risk jaywalking across Airport to avoid missing a connection, riders say.
“Somebody’s going to get hit one of these days, because people are running against traffic. If I had to do this every day, it really would be a pain,” said Rick Isbey, an Everett carpenter whose Seattle job schedule doesn’t always jibe with Sound Transit’s commuter bus routes.
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Relief is still more than a year away, but the future promises to be much easier for bus riders who need to travel between Everett and points south.
CT and Everett last week transformed decades of struggle — including repeated attempts in the state Legislature to forcibly merge the two bus systems — into a display of harmony as they formalized plans to create a “trainlike” bus system along their shared Highway 99 corridor.
“This is a monumental moment,” said CT board member Carlton “Skip” Gipson, as his board and the Everett City Council jointly approved a partnership to operate the planned Swift bus rapid-transit system between Everett Station and Shoreline’s Aurora Transit Center.
Sleek new, articulated buses will operate on a 17-mile corridor along Highway 99 — which in Everett becomes Evergreen Way and then Rucker Avenue — using automated ticketing, special lanes and signal priority at busy intersections to streamline trips. Buses are to arrive at stations every 10 minutes.
“This will … help people understand that transit is going to be part of the future,” said CT board member Richard Marin. “This is a great, great concept.”
The buses won’t run until 2009, however, because the $30 million project includes building 29 bus stations — pairs of northbound and southbound stops at 13 locations plus three stops in the general area of 196th Street Southwest. The stations will be roomier than standard shelters, with good lighting, real-time schedule monitors and ticket vending machines.
New traffic-signal technology will extend green lights and shorten red lights for late-running buses, which in South Snohomish County will travel on seven miles of lanes designated solely for transit or other traffic making right turns into businesses.
The agreement specifies:
• Community Transit will operate Swift buses within Everett city limits.
• Everett Transit will pay up to $4 million to build the northern terminal at Everett Station and Swift stations within its borders and install the system’s traffic-signal technology at various intersections.
• Everett Transit will contribute about 0.05 percent of its sales-tax revenues — more than $1 million per year — toward Swift’s estimated $5 million yearly operating costs.
• Everett Transit will provide more service to unincorporated areas around its borders.
While Everett Transit will lose no jobs, its employees union is unhappy that it wasn’t included in Swift negotiations.
Steve Oss, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 883, spoke at the joint meeting to request that some of the new Swift jobs be made available to his drivers. The union has filed a grievance with the city.
Diane Brooks: 425-745-7802 or email@example.com