Snohomish County, Wash. – Today Community Transit approved a plan to reduce most bus services by approximately 25% starting Monday, March 30.
“We made a decision to proactively create a service plan that will allow us to provide more predictable service to our customers as we face these challenging times,” Community Transit CEO Emmett Heath said.
“The impacts from this pandemic are leaving us with difficult decisions to make. Given the current ongoing decrease in ridership and possible future staffing shortages, our desire is to have a solid plan for our communities while caring for our employees. We feel this decision will help achieve those goals,” Heath said.
This week Community Transit’s total boardings are down 57.3% when compared to February 2020, with commuter service to downtown Seattle and University of Washington down 79.9%.
Further details of the service reduction will be released early next week as agency planning staff complete their work. Key highlights of the plan are expected to include:
Commuter service, including routes to Seattle, University of Washington, and Boeing will see greater service reductions to more closely match ridership.
The span of service hours and frequency of trips will be reduced on each route. There will be longer gaps between trips but all routes will provide at least one trip in each direction for all of our communities.
The service reductions are being planned to minimize impact on customers and allow the agency to respond to any possible staff shortages in a predictable manner.
All Community Transit buses will remain fare free until further notice.
All Community Transit buses will board and exit through the rear doors only. The front door will remain accessible for ADA customers only. The front 10 feet of all buses will be available for bus drivers and ADA customers only.
Staff will be uploading the service changes in BusFinder and Trip Planner as plans are finalized. The spring Service Changes will continue with planned implementation on Sunday, March 22.
Community Transit is also implementing a new COVID-19 related supplemental leave policy, effective March 22.
Community Transit is offering this leave to provide employees with additional support to take care of themselves and their family during this time. The agency is offering this leave as an option to employees who are considered to be in the high-risk category, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This includes pregnant women, employees 60 years or older and those with documented underlying medical conditions.
This leave can also be used when employees or someone they reside with is exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 or has tested positive. In addition, it can be used if an employee needs time to find alternate child care if their child’s school or place of care has been closed for reasons related to COVID-19.
All Community Transit employees are eligible for this leave. Full-time employees are eligible for up to 80 hours of supplemental leave and part-time employees are eligible for up to 40 hours of supplemental leave.
“We have long been very focused on fiscal stewardship and stability, including a concerted effort on recession planning,” Heath said.
“As an agency, we entered this uncertain time in a very strong and stable financial position and with reserves in place. I am confident this will help us withstand this situation in the best way possible.
“Our agency has been spending many hours each day considering and implementing policy changes that will support our employees and our customers to help ensure agency resiliency. I can assure you that at the appropriate time, we do plan on fully restoring our service and continuing our plans for expansion into 2024 and beyond.”