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Wednesday, September 3, 1997 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Buses On Ballot Later This Month -- 5 Areas To Be Asked To Join Ct District

Seattle Times Snohomish County Bureau

The last time Community Transit tried to expand its taxing district and improve service, through a proposed annexation of the Eastmont-Silver Firs area in 1991, voters said no.

Now, at the request of some residents in that area and elsewhere, CT is trying again.

In five votes in the Sept. 16 primary election, residents of the Tulalip Reservation, the Eastmont-Silver Firs area, the Cathcart-Clearview-Maltby area, the Machias-Cavalero Corner area, and the north and east Snohomish County areas will be asked to join CT's taxing district.

For the price of a new 0.06 percent sales tax, residents would get new or improved bus service and restored Dial-A-Ride (DART) van service.

Last year, CT scaled back that disabled-transit program, which now is offered only to residents of its taxing district. As a result, 350 to 400 disabled and elderly customers in the proposed annexation areas lost access to the DART curb-to-curb program.

CT already serves most populated areas of Snohomish County except for Everett, which has its own bus system, and outlying unincorporated areas. Service is virtually nonexistent in areas that aren't part of its taxing district, called (and listed on the ballot as) the Snohomish County Public Transportation Benefit Area Corp.

Residents of newly annexed areas aren't expected to see much increase in their own sales taxes, said CT spokesman Scott Richardson. Most residents who live in those areas do the bulk of their shopping in more-populated areas that already lie within CT's taxing district, he said.

But CT also would gain an increased share of revenues from the state's motor-vehicle excise tax. CT's share depends upon the value of registered vehicles within its taxing district.

If a majority of all five areas vote yes, CT's revenues next year are expected to increase by about $6 million. About $1.3 million of those revenues would come from new sales taxes; the rest would come from the state tax.

This year, CT is projected to collect $22.9 million in sales taxes and receive $13.8 million from the state's motor-vehicle excise tax.

DART access for disabled CT customers was a major factor in deciding to seek the annexations, said Joyce Olson, CT's executive director.

Under CT's new policies, instituted last year, only disabled riders who live within three-quarters of a mile of a CT bus route qualify for DART van service.

Regular DART riders who lived within CT's taxing district before the cutback - but didn't live within three-quarters of a mile of bus routes - were grandfathered under the new policy and continue to receive pickup services. But users who lived outside CT's tax district and beyond three-quarters of a mile of routes were out of luck.

CT now operates 22 local bus routes and 39 commuter routes throughout the county.

The annexation areas and possible service improvements are:

-- Tulalip Reservation: A possible new bus route is from the Tulalip Bay area to Marysville via Marine Drive, making connections with local and commuter routes.

-- Eastmont-Silver Firs area: Possible new bus routes include direct commuter service to downtown Seattle via the McCollum Park & Ride, and direct local service to Lynnwood via Mill Creek and 164th Street Southwest. That route also would make connections at Lynnwood Park & Ride to local and commuter routes.

-- Cathcart-Clearview-Maltby: Possible new bus routes include direct local service between Maltby and Lynnwood via Highway 524, and direct local service between Maltby and Mill Creek via Clearview. Both would make connections at Lynnwood Park & Ride to local and commuter routes.

-- Machias-Cavalero Corner area: Existing routes would be enhanced to provide service to that area.

-- North and east Snohomish County: Existing routes would be enhanced to provide service to those areas.

Diane Brooks' phone message number is 425-745-7802. Her e-mail address is: dbro-new@seatimes.com

Copyright (c) 1997 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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