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Transit starts connecting off island Tuesday

Islanders can take the bus and other public transportation to Mount Vernon, Bellingham and beyond beginning Tuesday, Sept. 6 when the new “County Connector” service begins.

The service is a joint undertaking by Island Transit, Skagit Transit and Whatcom Transit Authority.

That transit partnership will offer additional multi-modal transportation connections in the three-county Northern Sound region.

“This County Connector service is a milestone in public transportation in Washington State, and establishes a transit connection where one did not previously exist,” said Martha Rose, Island Transit director.

Residents of Island, Skagit and Whatcom counties will have direct transit access to the Skagit Multimodal Station in Mount Vernon, which will act as the “central connecting point” for riders. Travelers in this tri-county region will now be able to access public transportation, including bus, rail and ferry service, and airport shuttle services at regional multi-modal stations from south of the Seattle metropolitan area, clear up to the Canadian border and beyond.

The County Connector is the result of the efforts of a collaborative consortium called the North Sound Connecting Communities Project, or more colloquially as “The Farm House Gang.”  This group consists of public and private transit service providers; the Washington State Ferry System; Amtrak; private business; Western Washington University; multiple city, county and state officials and tribal communities, among others.

The County Connector is made possible by a two-year, $2 Million grant received through the Washington State Legislature, an effort championed by District 10 Representative and Senate Transportation Chair, Senator Mary Margaret Haugen. 

A public open house and dedication ceremony is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 6, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Skagit Multi-Modal Station, 150 E. Kincaid Street, Mount Vernon.

Among the guest speakers will be Governor Christine Gregoire; Senator Haugen, U.S. Congressman Rick Larsen; Captain Syd Abernethy, commanding officer, NAS Whidbey; Doug MacDonald, state Secretary of Transportation; and Island County Commissioner and Island Transit Board Chair Mac McDowell.

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