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Snohomish County, Wash. – The Community Transit Board of Directors approved a 2014 budget at its regular meeting on Dec. 5.
There are no service cuts or layoffs in Community Transit's proposed 2014 Budget. In fact, there are plans to add 2,500 new service hours and hire five new drivers.
Due to publicity over proposed service cuts at King County Metro, many people have erroneously thought Community Transit was also planning to cut service.
That is not true.
The 2014 budget calls for modest service growth in 2014 that will see bus service hours increase by about 2 percent over 2013 levels. Some of that increase is due to changes that were made this year and will be realized next year, and half will be new service hours.
Most of the new service hours in 2014 will go to schedule maintenance – adding time to existing trips that take longer due to traffic, new traffic signals, etc. The agency had not been able to keep up with schedule maintenance the past few years because of budget challenges, and as a result some service did not stay on schedule.
There may also be some extra trips added and possible route changes in 2014. Detailed service proposals will be available in the spring.
The 2014 budget anticipates a 4 percent growth in sales tax revenue, after a 6.6 percent increase in 2013. That is a significant turnaround from recent years when sales tax revenue, Community Transit’s primary source of funding, fell by 18 percent and remained flat through 2012. That drop in revenue forced the agency to reduce costs, delay projects, lay off one-third of its workforce and cut bus service by 37 percent.
With the economy on an upward trend, Community Transit plans to engage its riders and the public on where new service should be added with an eye toward a potential significant service increase in 2015. How much new service may be added depends on economic trends in 2014. In addition, possible legislative action could allow for more service growth in the future.
While there is no fare increase for bus riders in 2014, the budget does include an annual rate increase for vanpools. Last year, the board decided to review vanpool rates each year as part of the budget process. Vanpool rates are tied to federal mileage reimbursement rates as well as program costs.
Community Transit provides transportation options for Snohomish County residents, including bus and paratransit service, vanpool and ridesharing options. Call Community Transit at (425) 353-7433 or (800) 562-1375 for bus information, or (888) 814-1300 for carpool or vanpool information, or go to www.communitytransit.org.