Building a Community, Making Friends, and Meeting New People

“Riding the bus – it’s like a community. I love people – I have always enjoyed meeting new people.”

Kevin Jorgenson appreciates the value of the Whidbey Island community and his role in it. He lives in Greenbank and finds that taking the bus to work, Walmart in Oak Harbor, keeps him in touch with the community. Jorgenson is easy to spot as he sits on the back of the bus; colorful neckties, jeans, tennis shoes, and a friendly smile, his daily attire.

Jorgenson not only takes the bus to work but he also catches it on Saturdays to go play tennis with his friends. “I am thrilled it’s back!” he said. Island Transit had to cut back services from March to July in 2020 due to the pandemic as the Governor urged citizens to Stay Home and Stay Healthy. Unfortunately, when service was cut back, Jorgenson had to cut back his hours at work. He was eager for Island Transit to increase their runs.

When Island county entered Phase 2, Island Transit modified services including additional runs to its most popular routes and reinstating Saturday services. This reinstatement of service was readily utilized by Jorgensen and other commuters.

When asked how he feels about riding the bus during the pandemic, he responded without hesitation, “I feel really safe on the bus.” Island Transit offers free masks, hand sanitizer, and every other seat is taped off to allow space between riders. The larger buses allow for 11 riders, while the smaller buses can accommodate up to eight. “On one instance the bus had reached capacity so I had to wait for the next bus, but it was only a half an hour.”

Jorgenson self-proclaims he is Island Transit’s biggest fan. When asked what he likes best about the services, he began to rattle off a list. “Of course, I have lots of favorites – I like free,” he said smiling. “I get to meet a lot of people on the bus and the drivers are awesome – really friendly. I’ve never had a bad experience on the bus.”

After a number of years commuting to work with his car, Jorgenson found it too costly with the price of gas, car maintenance, and insurance. In 2017 he opted instead to ride the bus and hasn’t owned a car since.

“Even if I had a car I’d keep using the bus. It’s so convenient!” Jorgenson lives about a mile from the bus stop, citing how walking is good for him. “It’s healthy for me and healthy for the planet.” When he worked in Seattle and Everett he also took the bus.“I’d take Island Transit to the ferry and then hop on Community Transit or Everett Transit on the other side. Piece of Cake.” Before returning to work, Jorgenson added, “I recommend Island Transit to everybody. I’m probably the happiest customer you guys have!”

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