Decision on Community Transit service cuts expected this week

Riders gave feedback about the service cuts at several public hearings during the summer.

Community Transit’s Board of Directors is expected to decide on Thursday which routes will be affected by service cuts. The agency is slashing 20 percent of service, or roughly 80,000 hours, due to a shortfall blamed on low sales tax revenue. That’s in addition to cuts made in 2010 that eliminated Sunday and holiday service.

“By this time next year we will have cut about a third of the service and about a third of the employees that we had at the beginning of 2010,” Community Transit CEO Joyce Eleanor said in April.

Four options are on the table. Two would largely maintain the current route network. One of these would restore minimal Sunday service at the expense of deeper cuts during the other six days. A third alternative would restructure much of the system, focusing most service on heavily used corridors.

The fourth option is a hybrid of the other three. You can read the specifics on Community Transit’s website.

A final decision will be made at the Sept. 1 board meeting. The changes will take effect in February 2012.

Even more cuts could be down the road. On the agency’s blog, a spokesperson said “earlier this year we had assumed a more favorable economic recovery and projected an average sales tax growth of 4 percent for the next 6 years. The fact that the economy is recovering so slowly could mean the need for more cost cutting in 2012, including the possibility of additional service cuts in the future.”

Sales tax revenue makes up 60 to 70 percent of Community Transit’s budget.

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