News

Clallam Transit cuts could hit Sequim hardest

by MATTHEW NASH
Sequim Gazette

The Clallam Transit System is proposing cutbacks that could cut into your commute.

 

A current proposal would cut routes in Forks, Port Angeles and Sequim to save about $188,000.

Sequim could receive the most cuts: a reduction of 26 hours and 45 minutes per week of the total 55 hours and 27 minutes in proposed service reductions.

 

At one of two meetings on Feb. 3 at Clallam Transit’s Center in Sequim, Terry Weed, Clallam Transit general manager, said cutbacks are needed due to declining local sales tax revenue, which has led to a shortfall of about $400,000.

 

“If we continued as is, we’d be out of reserves by 2014,” Weed said. “We had a few good years and thankfully our board put money into savings rather than attempting to put more buses on the road.”

 

Clint Wetzel, Transit operations manager, said to balance the remainder of the deficit, staff has made other cutbacks within the system: Some current and future vacant positions won’t be filled.

 

He said staff also were conservative on sales tax income, which they estimated at 2.5 percent when it was actually 2 percent higher.

Proposed cuts

To propose the cuts, Wetzel said, Transit staff identified trips that have the least impact. “I know we’re affecting people’s lives and it’s a very difficult decision,” Wetzel said. “Each trip with a proposed cut has an average of four riders or less.”

 

If approved, the following routes would be eliminated or altered:

In Sequim:

• No. 40 Sequim shuttle route reduced from 17 to nine trips a day with a modified trip
• Elimination of Saturday service on route No. 40 and
No. 52 Diamond Point
• Reduction of Dial-A-Ride service by one hour, making it 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Saturday
• Dial-A-Ride service area on Saturday would include those areas affected by proposed cutbacks.
Wetzel said a similar proposal for rerouting the No. 40 was turned down 18 months ago after 79 people signed a petition against it.
“We want to give the community more options and places to go — just unfortunately not as a frequently and as soon as you might want,” Wetzel said.
Dial-A-Ride users will have to share rides as much as possible to cut back on expenses due to its high expense, Wetzel said.
Sequim changes could mean rescheduling elsewhere:
• Route modification to the Route No. 20 College/Plaza
• Adjustment of the 6:10 a.m. Route No. 30 U.S. Highway 101 Commuter and the 11:10 a.m. Route No. 14 Forks to five minutes earlier
• Adjust Route No. 50 James-town campus from 2:20 p.m. to 2:50 p.m.
• Adjust Route No. 52 Diamond Point from 5 p.m. to 5:25 p.m.
Other county proposed cuts:
Forks
• Eliminate 5:05 a.m. Route No. 16 Clallam Bay; 6:40 a.m. Forks Shuttle No. 17 and 11:15 a.m. No. 15 La Push
Port Angeles
• Eliminate 6:25 a.m. No. 20 College/Plaza; 6:25 a.m. No. 24 Cherry Hill;
• Start the No. 10 Joyce first trip at Lyre River and end at the Transit garage
• 9 p.m. No. 10 Joyce becomes 8:05 p.m.
• Eliminate all first a.m. trips in Port Angeles runs Nos. 20, 22, 24 and 26 on Saturdays

Weed said the cuts are meant to be a short-term measure.

 

“(Sales tax revenue) seems to be turning the corner,” he said.

 

“Of 31 transit operations in the state, we are only one of a handful above zero. We’re up about 4.5 percent in 2010. We’re third on the list. A lot of transit agencies are losing money in the state.”

Paratransit

Clallam Paratransit, a service providing specialized transportation to people with difficulty using regular transit due to physical impairment or age, probably will not be affected by proposed cutbacks, said David McCoy, general manager for Clallam Paratransit.

 

About 4,000 people are signed up and eligible for Paratransit services in the county. “(The proposal) does not have any significant impact on Paratransit,” McCoy said.

 

“Sequim people probably don’t have anything to worry about.”

Public hearing

Wetzel said the proposal could change depending on what the Transit board decides.

 

Clallam Transit will hold a public hearing on the proposed cuts at 1 p.m. Monday, Feb. 28, at the Clallam Transit System, 830 W. Lauridsen Blvd., Port Angeles.

 

Written responses are requested by Monday, Feb. 21, to Clallam Transit System, c/o General Manager, 830 W. Lauridsen Blvd., Port Angeles, WA 98363; or by e-mail to clintw@clallamtransit.com. All proposed changes are available at www.clallamtransit.com.

Reach Matthew Nash at mnash@sequimgazette.com.

 

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