Morning commuters look at a lot of little screens during their southbound trip Tuesday morning. Island Transit announced it’s resuming Saturday bus service, beginning Jan. 27. Photo by Patricia Guthrie/Whidbey News-Times

Morning commuters look at a lot of little screens during their southbound trip Tuesday morning. Island Transit announced it’s resuming Saturday bus service, beginning Jan. 27. Photo by Patricia Guthrie/Whidbey News-Times

Wait over for Whidbey Saturday bus service

Island Transit set to roll Jan. 27

Island Transit buses will be rolling again on Saturdays, beginning Jan. 27.

Major routes are included in the 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday schedule with an emphasis on getting people up and down Whidbey’s main highway and to and from ferry service in Clinton and Coupeville.

“We’ve worked hard the past year to be able to return the service,” said Mike Nortier, Island Transit executive director. “It’s a reduced schedule like in the past.”

Ever since Saturday service stopped four years ago because of financial trouble, it’s absence has been the number one concern of the public, Nortier said.

“We heard them loud and clear,” he added.

Dave Everett, waiting to board the Route 2 bus from Coupeville to Freeland early Tuesday morning, welcomed the news. He uses the system often to catch the ferry to Port Townsend.

“It will help a lot having Saturday service back,” he said.

The new Saturday schedule is posted on the company’s website. A community meeting to discuss the service is scheduled for noon to 2 p.m. Jan. 16 at Oak Harbor Library.

“We just want to offer folks a chance to learn about Saturday service and provide them an opportunity to ask questions,” Nortier said.

After serious financial problems suddenly came to light in 2014, Island Transit leaders were forced to lay off employees, cut routes, cancel Saturday service and take out $2.3 million in bank loans.

Nortier, the former commander of Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, was hired in 2016. Under his watch, some routes changed based on ridership and the company celebrated its 30-year anniversary.

Earlier this year, auditors determined the transit system’s cash position is strong; it has paid back a $2-million bond borrowed in 2014.

The bus service on Whidbey is only one of two fare-free systems remaining in Washington state; the other is in Mason County.

Fares were added on its Camano Island to Everett routes last year.

The agency is partly funded by a 0.9 percent sales tax.

Island Transit employs 114 people. It just hired and trained new drivers for the additional Saturday scheduling.

Printed Saturday schedules will be available on buses by Jan. 15.

More in News

Island distiller brewing up hand sanitizer

In response to the growing demand for hand sanitizer, one of Whidbey’s… Continue reading

2 from Careage die from COVID-19 as number of cases jump to 42

Two residents from Careage of Whidbey in Coupeville died as a result… Continue reading

Judge revoked man’s bail for violating no-contact orders

A judge revoked bail on a 36-year-old man who is facing prison… Continue reading

Ebey’s Forever grants announced

The Trust Board of Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve and the Friends… Continue reading

Navy to conduct real-time noise monitoring on Whidbey

Federal, state and county officials who want the Navy to conduct real-world… Continue reading

Hospital has six ventilators, hoping to get more

WhidbeyHealth has six or seven ventilators in the hospital — depending on… Continue reading

Oak Harbor looks at minimizing utility rate increase

The monthly rate Oak Harbor residents pay for city-provided utilities will increase… Continue reading

Photo by Jessie Stensland / Whidbey News-Times
                                Careage of Whidbey, a skilled nursing facility in Coupeville, is the site of a cluster of COVID-19 cases.
32 test positive for COVID-19 at Careage

A total of 32 residents and staff members at the Careage of… Continue reading

Community Resiliency Fund to aid charities with COVID-19 response

A nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting other charities on Whidbey Island is… Continue reading

Most Read