Submitted by Intercity Transit
Intercity Transit recently received one of 13 Smart Communities Awards. The award, presented to the Intercity Transit Authority (the Authority) by Mark Barkley, Assistant Director with the Washington State Department of Commerce, on August 7, 2019, recognizes the agency’s and its many partners’ efforts to design and deliver transit services desired by the community.
Intercity Transit’s two-year ‘IT Road Trip’ was launched in response to anticipated budget shortfalls and potential service cuts. In response, the Authority sought input from constituents living within the Public Transportation Benefit Area to determine the type of transit system they wanted to see in the future. During the first phase of community engagement, over 10,000 individual comments were recorded.
Based on that input, along with a rigorous technical assessment of system performance and needs, a public-private task force made up of representatives from Thurston County, the cities of Lacey, Olympia, Tumwater, and Yelm, the Thurston Economic Development Council, Thurston Regional Planning Council, Washington State Department of Enterprise Services, Thurston County Chamber of Commerce, The Evergreen State College, South Puget Sound Community College, the Olympia Downtown Association, North Thurston School District, and the Pacific Mountain Workforce Development Council identified three scenarios for the transit agency’s future.
During the second round of community outreach, surveys and polling showed a majority of residents supported implementing a transformational public transportation system in Thurston County. This support was later confirmed with the passage of Intercity Transit Proposition 1 in November 2018 with 66 percent support overall.
“We are honored to be recognized for the work we did to create a plan to provide a public transit system that is consistent with what the community said it wants,” said Ann Freeman-Manzanares, Intercity Transit’s General Manager. “We are already responding by expanding our services. In doing so, we are helping our partners meet their goals of expanding economic and educational opportunities while reducing congestion.”
In the last year, the transit agency has increased service hours by 20 percent by adding earlier and later trips on local routes and significantly increasing weekend service, including a 63 percent increase in Sunday service last March.
The agency recently modified service to better serve northeast Lacey and will extend an additional new route into the northeast Lacey area in March 2020. This fall a new demonstration route will begin that will cut bus travel times on the busy Martin Way and Harrison Avenue corridor in half. This ‘high-performance corridor,’ route will operate initially during morning and evening peak rider hours every 15 minutes. Funding for this new service comes from a Regional Mobility Grant award funded by Washington State Department of Transportation.
For more information about these and other Intercity Transit projects planned in response to the community’s input, please see the agency’s Short- and Long-Range Plan.