Intercity Transit increased service this month on eight of its 22 bus routes as a result of a sales-tax increase voters in its service area approved last year.
Spokeswoman Meg Kester said it’s a modest service increase – 3.1 percent, which will add 6,208 hours of bus service a year.
“It’s particularly good news for the thousands of riders who use transit daily in our community,” she said.
Perhaps the most significant change is Route 41 from the Olympia Transit Center to The Evergreen State College. Buses during peak times will arrive every 15 minutes. Previously they arrived every 30 minutes.
Kester said the Evergreen route is one of the busiest in the system, often with standing-room only on the buses. It has a weekday ridership of 1,753 boardings – an average of more than 44 riders an hour in 2010.
Another route that serves Evergreen, Route 48 from Westfield Capital mall to the Olympia Transit Center, is providing new service in the evenings and on Saturdays.
The change replaces Saturday service on Route 49; that route will continue to operate on Sundays.
The service increases, which went into effect Feb. 6, are spread throughout the district’s 94-square-mile service area in Thurston County. Kester said they were chosen after feedback from riders.
Here’s a look at the other improvements:
• Route 43 from Tumwater Square, via South Puget Sound Community College, to Olympia Transit Center. The Tumwater Hill area, which before this month received service only on weekdays, now has Saturday service.
• Routes 62A and 62B between Hawks Prairie and East Lacey, via Martin Way and the Lacey Transit Center, to Olympia Transit Center. The Saturday schedule has been adjusted to improve the reliability of the route and on-time performance.
• Route 68 from Lacey Transit Center to Olympia Transit Center, through Tumwater. Later weekday evening service and a new Sunday service have been added.
• Route 94 from Yelm to Olympia Transit Center. Later weekday service was added and the route was changed slightly in Yelm to serve 103rd Avenue and the Yelm Adult Community Center.
• Route 620 from Olympia/Lacey to Tacoma Mall. Four new trips north and southbound have been added for Sunday, matching the frequency of Saturday service. The Olympia Tacoma Express service is a joint service of Intercity Transit and Pierce Transit, but only Intercity Transit provides service on weekends.
The service improvements are quite a contrast to the specter of service cuts the transit authority said were imminent if voters didn’t approve a tax increase last year. The downtown Dash shuttle was targeted for elimination, as well as Route 42 serving South Puget Sound Community College and Thurston County Family and Juvenile Court in Tumwater. Service on several other routes was to be reduced.
Voters agreed in August to increase sales taxes by two-tenths of a cent on every dollar to avert the cuts and allow for a modest service improvement.
Matt Batcheldor: 360-704-6869 firstname.lastname@example.org