Island Transit has plans to expand services, and agency officials are soliciting feedback from the public.
The organization is currently in the second of three phases that comprise an initiative known as “Island Transit Maximized” that will help transit personnel better serve the Whidbey and Camano Island communities.
“The Island County community has asked us to improve our services, and that is what we’re setting out to do,” said Selene Muldowney-Stratton, Island Transit communications officer.
The first phase of the initiative, a route structure analysis performed by a consulting firm, was completed last year. Together, the firm and the transit agency reviewed ridership data, traffic patterns, economic development plans for the county and population trends to measure local demand for transit and determine how riders use the services.
During phase one, the consulting firm designed six options for service expansion, such as Sunday service, extended hours, more ferry connections and expanded routes in underserved parts of the county. Price tags for the various options range from around $100,000 to more than $700,000.
Now in the second phase, Island Transit has created a survey for county residents to provide feedback on the proposed options or discuss other services they would like to see implemented.
The survey is online at https://arcg.is/1TXajC or in print at various locations in the county. Residents can also email feedback and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Island Transit will also be holding informational webinars during phase two to explain the six expansion options in-depth, take questions and receive feedback. The dates and times of the webinar will be posted on Island Transit’s website when they are finalized.
Muldowney-Stratton said agency officials hope to compile all community responses by the end of March, after which they will enter phase three — reviewing the public’s feedback and making a final proposal to the Island Transit board.
Though some of the proposed services, such as Sunday routes and more frequent ferry stops, have long been requested by the community, Muldowney-Stratton said that ridership dropped off steeply at the beginning of the pandemic, slowing expansion efforts.
“Prior to the pandemic, we had slightly different routes and longer hours for services, but the pandemic pushed us back just like every other agency,” she said.
Now that ridership is increasing again, however, agency officials felt it was time to move forward.
“By offering these opportunities for service improvement, we’re giving the community an opportunity to access the things that they value,” Muldowney-Stratton said.