The number of people in South Sound riding buses to commute to work and school continues to grow during the economic downturn.
Intercity Transit spokeswoman Meg Kester said ridership has increased by 78 percent over the past six years.
In 2008, Intercity Transit provided more than 5 millions rides via its buses, its Dial-a-Lift service for the handicapped, and vanpool services.
According to an Intercity Transit rider survey in 2008, since 2004, the number of bus trips to work has increased by 61 percent and the number of trips for school has increased by 67 percent.
Kester said Intercity Transit has responded to the increased demand by increasing the frequency of trips on its main routes since 2006. The transit service also has buses that run every 15 minutes from Martin Way, through downtown Olympia and into West Olympia; to Tumwater; and to the Thurston County Courthouse.
A bus ride anywhere in the system costs $1 for a one-way trip, and $2 round trip, Kester said. A daily bus pass is $2 and a monthly pass is $30.
Intercity Transit has bus routes all over Thurston County – from The Evergreen State College on the west side and northeast to Tacoma. Routes run north to 26th Avenue and Group Health and south to Israel Road and Tumwater Boulevard.
The transit service continues to operate Dash, its free shuttle service. The Dash route runs from the Olympia Farmer’s Market to the Capitol Campus.
LATE NIGHT SERVICE
Intercity Transit Planning Manager Dennis Bloom said that in spring 2008, Intercity Transit for the first time started a weekend late-night bus service. The service operates buses between downtown Olympia and The Evergreen State College until 3:30 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights and until 12 midnight on Sundays, he said. It doesn’t operate in summer.
Bloom said Intercity Transit started the service in response to Evergreen students who wanted late-night service to college services such as the library and computer lab. The late-night bus service is paid for by Evergreen students who had its costs added to their student fees, he said.
“The use of the service was beyond anyone’s expectation,” Bloom said.
In addition to bus services, IT coordinates 192 vanpools serving more than 1,500 commuters traveling daily. Vanpools can carry eight to 12 riders. IT is also part of an eight-county regional ride-match program that connects long-distance commuters with carpool partners.
Intercity Transit makes four retired vanpool vans available to qualified human-service organizations on a reservation basis to transport workers, volunteers and clients. IT offers a free defensive-driving class to participants. A per-mile rate is charged to cover direct costs.
TRAVELING BY RAIL
Commuters can catch the Sounder Commuter Rail to Seattle at Sound Transit’s Tacoma Dome station.
Closer to home, trains to Portland and Seattle are available at the Olympia/Lacey Amtrak Station is located at 6600 Yelm Highway in Lacey.
TRAVELING BY BIKE
Commuting by bike is a great option for people who live up to 10 miles from work. Intercity City encourages bicycle commuting each May with its annual bicycling commuting contest. IT buses also are equipped with bike racks for folks wanting to bike only part of the way.
ON THE WEB
• Intercity Transit: intercitytransit.com
• Sound Transit: soundtransit.org
• Olympia-area traffic conditions: wsdot.wa.gov/traffic/Olympia
• Van and carpool matches: rideshareonline.com
• Intercity Transit’s cost calculator: intercitytransit.com. Mouse over “travel options,” then select “cost calculator” in the drop-down menu.