Everett Transit Still Resisting Ct Merger Idea
Seattle Times Snohomish County Bureau
Community Transit may be making big gains in ridership, but it still hasn't been able to persuade Everett Transit to come on board.
Community Transit leaders want to merge with Everett Transit, but Everett Transit is adamant about staying independent and has thwarted attempts by the state Legislature to force the issue.
That's frustrating for CT planners because Everett is the only logical transfer point between South Snohomish County and cities to the north and east of Everett.
"Everett does not have a Great Wall of China around it. Some of us who do not live in Everett go to Everett to buy things, seek medical services," said Otto Herman, CT board president and a Marysville City Councilman.
Everett residents, in turn, depend upon CT to get outside the city - including 48 daily commuter runs into and out of Seattle, plus 32 daily commuter trips to and from Bothell and Eastside job centers.
For Pat Yokum, 53, living just inside South Everett means it takes nearly two hours to travel 10 miles between her home and Edmonds Community College, where she's a student.
"The CT buses and the Everett Transit buses do not coordinate very well," Yokum said.
Although downtown Everett clearly is an important CT transfer point, CT leaders have no intention of adding any new service into or out of Everett.
To improve CT service through Everett, city residents must first join CT and agree to double the 0.3 percent tax they now pay for Everett Transit.
But Everett leaders say their city bus system already provides much better local-bus service than CT provides other communities. They accuse CT of trying to raise Everett taxes to subsidize other CT services.
"They want our cash," said Everett City Councilman Mark Soine. "Those people who want to take control, their interest is outside the city."
CT's Herman denies that.
"We (CT) have a real benefit for everybody. It would be a real shame if the perspectives became so narrowed that people were only looking at `What's in this for me' ? "
Will the merger issue ever be resolved?
It's "the eternal question," said state Rep. Karen Schmidt, R-Bainbridge Island, who chairs the House Transportation Committee.
"It's always been that CT wants to absorb Everett Transit and Everett does not want to be absorbed. That's always been the battle," Schmidt said. "I think it's been the tax base. (Everett leaders) don't want to ask their citizens to subsidize the county.
"If it's win-win, they'd both be out there beating on our door and asking us (for a merger). Somebody is obviously winning, and somebody is obviously losing."
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