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Snohomish County, Wash. – The Community Transit Board of Directors yesterday authorized the purchase of 17 double decker buses to augment the agency’s current fleet of 45 “Double Talls” for commuter service to Seattle.
In June, the board authorized contracts for 26 40-foot and 14 60-foot buses to replace and expand the fleet as Community Transit embarks on a voter-approved expansion of service. With an upcoming order for 15 Swift bus rapid transit vehicles, the agency is looking to buy as many as 232 new buses in the next five years.
Community Transit plans to purchase an initial order of 17 Double Talls from manufacturer Alexander Dennis Inc., the builder of the Enviro 500 double decker buses the agency current has in service. Four of the new buses would replace aging 60-foot buses that serve the Seattle commuter market; the other 13 double deckers will be expansion buses to accommodate new service.
Community Transit has operated double decker buses since 2007 when it leased a bus and put it into service to test the feasibility of operating double deckers. Not only did passengers love the bus, but drivers found it handled better in inclement weather. With nearly 80 seats, and standing room for up to 30 more people, the double decker proved more efficient than the 60-foot buses it would replace.
Community Transit put 23 Double Talls into operation in 2011 and another 22 buses last year. The initial order of 17 buses will give the agency a total of 62 Double Talls when they arrive in mid-to-late 2017.
Community Transit has an option to purchase 40 more double deckers under a joint contract with Sound Transit and Kitsap Transit. Last week Sound Transit announced it is purchasing 32 new double deckers for its service between Snohomish and King counties. Community Transit operates that service out of its Kasch Park base in Everett that was upgraded in 2010 to maintain double deckers. Sound Transit currently has five double deckers in service.
40- and 60-foot buses
In June the board authorized two contracts for 40 standard diesel buses: 26 40-foot buses from Gillig LLC and 14 60-foot buses from New Flyer of America. The 60-foot buses will replace older buses while the 40-foot buses will expand the fleet.
These contracts have options for the purchase of up to 120 more buses through 2021.
Community Transit also plans to purchase 15 60-foot bus rapid transit (BRT) buses that will be used on the second Swift BRT line currently in development. That order will be considered by the board closer to implementation of the Swift line.
These buses will be configured and branded the same as the agency’s current 15 Swift buses, and the buses will be used interchangeably on both routes. Swift buses have three doors for quick boarding, utilize on-board bike racks and do not have fare boxes as riders pay off-board at Swift stations.
Last year, Snohomish County voters approved an additional 0.3 percent sales tax for expanded transit service. On September 11, Community Transit will be adding two new routes, restructuring two routes and adding new commuter bus trips to Seattle. More bus trips within Snohomish County are approved to start in March 2017. This expansion represents a 14 percent increase over 2015 bus service levels.
This initial service expansion is being done with the existing bus fleet. Future service expansion requires additional buses. The buses authorized for purchase this summer will arrive in mid-to-late 2017. During 2017, another round of service additions will be announced and public comment will be taken.
Community Transit’s recently adopted six-year plan calls for a 40 percent increase in service over 2015 levels.
Community Transit has been responsible for providing transportation options for Snohomish County residents for 40 years, including bus and paratransit service, vanpool and ridesharing options. Call Community Transit at (425) 353-RIDE or (800) 562-1375 for bus information, or (888) 814-1300 for carpool or vanpool information, or go to www.communitytransit.org. You can also read our blog at www.communitytransit.blogspot.com, visit our Facebook page, follow us @MyCommTrans on Twitter or see us on YouTube.