Swift Bus service from Aurora Village into Snohomish County starts 4 pm Sunday

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

by Brian Doennebrink
Special to the ShorelineAreaNews
Brian Doennebrink lives in Shoreline, works for a major transit organization, and follows transportation issues closely.
Community Transit's Swift Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service starts at 4 pm Sunday with full service beginning on Monday, November 30. The only stop in King County is at Aurora Village Transit Center, where the bus will stop and pick up on the same platform as King County Metro's route #358 to downtown Seattle, but on the opposite (east) end. For the fastest trips to downtown Seattle during peak hours weekdays, the #301 and #303 are highly recommended.

The initial Swift line will cover highway 99 from Aurora Village in Shoreline to Everett Station, with a total of 12 stops. A policy decision was made that it would stop as a train does at all of the stations whether there are passengers visible there or not. Coach operators will have a time window of about 10 seconds at each stop, and it remains to be seen how well they'll adhere to that. Another open question is how and if Swift will operate in snowy conditions, as King County Metro management recently publicized their decision to not operate articulated buses during snowy conditions. Lastly, it will be down to the wire whether the station slated for Everett Station will be done on time, as the City of Everett only recently acted on approving the construction.

The Swift line replaces the present Community Transit route #100. Remember, for Swift, you pay before you get on the bus, and ticket machines are conveniently located at each station. Best of all, fares are the same as for "regular" buses, and cash, credit card, or ORCA card may be used for payment. Bicycles are loaded on a Swift bus, through the third door, and there are 3 onboard racks. And, while the #100 that's being replaced stops at all "regular" stops, the Swift only stops at Swift stations. This means that, if you wish to to go somewhere that's not near a Swift station, you must transfer to a "regular" bus. On highway 99, from Shoreline to Airport Road at the City of Everett boundary, CT #101 will run every 20 minutes weekdays and less often on weekends. Within Everett city limits, Everett Transit #9 is the primary route serving the "regular" bus stops along highway 99. Please note: only Swift buses stop at Swift stations, and Swift buses do not stop at regular stops. To transfer to a "regular" bus, you must walk from the Swift station to the "regular" bus stop, and to transfer from a "regular" bus to a Swift bus, you must walk from the "regular" bus stop to a Swift station.

Two new stations in both directions are to be constructed in 2010. Deleted from the original project due to reaching the limit on costs, the City of Everett received A.R.R.A. (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act), a.k.a. economic stimulus monies, to re-add them again. These stations are at 112th SE and at Madison Street, the only two transfer points to the Everett Transit #8 route, which goes northwest to Merrill Creek, Intermec, and Boeing-Everett. To make such a transfer before then, the shortest walk to an Everett Transit #8 stop is from the 4th Avenue West station northwest on 4th Avenue West to just past Holly Drive.

Because Swift will be operating 7 days a week, it opens up some interesting possibilities. For instance, one will be able to take a "one bus" trip from Aurora Village to Everett to: (a) attend an event at the Comcast Events Center; or (b) attend an Everett Aquasox baseball game without much concern about whether the buses are still running; Swift is slated to run 20 hours per day, roughly 5 a.m. through 1 a.m. the next day. At Everett Station, one can connect with Amtrak trains to Vancouver, B.C. and points in-between, including a soon-to-be-opened Stanwood station, Community Transit "regular" routes to Marysville, SW Arlington, Granite Falls, Snohomish, Monroe, and Gold Bar, a myriad of Everett Transit routes, and even Island and Skagit Transit buses during peak afternoon hours.

Photos from Community Transit

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