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Intercity Transit changing routes

Intercity Transit officials want to know what the public thinks about three proposed service changes – cutting service on the downtown Dash shuttle, adding express buses to Tacoma, and cutting service to Panorama and the St. Francis House on bus Route 60.

The proposals are part of the transit agency’s regular service tweaks that happen two or three times a year, said Mike Harbour, general manager of Intercity Transit. The agency will hold a public hearing on the proposals on July 20 and is set to approve any changes on Aug. 3.

Here’s a closer look at the proposals:

DASH

Intercity Transit leaders have talked off and on about cutting the downtown Dash shuttle since it started offering free service from the Capitol Campus to the Olympia Farmer’s Market in 2006.

Three buses run every 12 minutes when the legislature is in session, Monday through Friday, and two run every 15 minutes otherwise. Service is also offered Saturdays from April to December, when the market is operating.

Some transit authority members, particularly those not representing Olympia, are concerned the service isn’t well used.

“It does pretty well during the legislative session when there’s a lot happening on campus,” Harbour said. “In the off session it’s a lot weaker than during the session.”

There are a number of options on the table. Hours could be trimmed, the third bus could be eliminated during session, and Saturday service could be cut back or eliminated.

The transit authority considered cutting the service last year but put the issue on hold until the 2011 legislative session ended.

OLYMPIA EXPRESS

In another proposal, Intercity Transit could offer additional trips to Pierce County to make up for cuts from Pierce Transit along the same corridor. Before June 12, the Pierce agency was making 16 daily one-way trips on the corridor and Intercity Transit was offering 32. On June 12, Pierce Transit cut eight of the trips, prompting Intercity Transit to add four daily express trips.

Later in June, Pierce decided to eliminate all its remaining express service to Olympia in October. Intercity Transit could pick up more of those trips.

ROUTE 60

Service could be cut on Route 60, a long route that serves medical plazas on Lily Road, the retirement communities of St. Francis House and Panorama, as well as the Lacey Transit Center. Harbour said it is difficult for the buses to maintain their schedule for the long route. Serving the two senior facilities means going out of the way for few daily riders, according to a staff report.

Howard Burton, marketing director for Panorama, said Intercity Transit is working with the retirement center and will visit in the next couple of weeks.

“We’re pleased that they’re meeting with our residents to talk about it,” he said. “They need to do what they need to do to be efficient and effective.”

Matt Batcheldor: 360-704-6869 mbatcheldor@theolympian.com

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