Over the past several months, we’ve been reviewing the results of leg one of our Road Trip outreach and analysis with a project Steering Committee. The Steering Committee includes representatives from local municipalities, rider groups and community interests. Their review of community input identified the following key messages:
- Speed up service and attract more riders.
- Increase frequency and reduce wait times.
- Offer earlier, later and weekend service.
- Expand service to new areas.
- Offer express service on high-volume lines.
- Ensure access for those most in need.
- Reduce congestion and parking demand.
- Expand Vanpool and Dial-A-Lift services.
- Provide real-time arrival and departure information.
- Be more bike-friendly.
The Steering Committee recommended consideration of several service enhancements that could help us achieve some, or even most, of the community-identified priorities. They include:
- Bus Rapid Transit (Fast, high-frequency service along major corridors.)
- Extended Span of Service (Bus service that starts earlier in the morning and runs later at night.)
- Improved Frequency (Buses come more often, all day.)
- Service to New Areas (NE Lacey, Yelm, and other areas over time).
- Night Owl Service (Weekend, on-demand, late night transit service to and from downtown Olympia.)
- Maintain On-Time Performance (Add buses to address congestion and keep them on time.)
- Enhanced Commuter Service (More, faster Express service to Tacoma/Seattle.)
- Enhanced Capital Facilities (Money for shelters, lighting, benches, etc.)
- Change the Way Fares are Paid (Implement new fare technology or introduce an alternative fare structure.)
The Steering Committee explored future transit scenarios while considering important realities, including:
- State and federal funding sources, which once supported transit station construction or expansion, new bus purchases, and other capital projects have been drastically reduced or eliminated.
- Population growth and congestion are slowing routes while also adding more riders.
- Younger workers show a preference for transit-based commutes over car-ownership.
- Intercity Transit has stretched the service life of its fleet and undertaken other cost-cutting measures. Even so, without new revenue, service demands will outpace revenues by 2022.
- Intercity Transit will provide the level of service our community supports, even if it means reductions.