By Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News
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The Clallam Transit board authorized the service improvement by a unanimous vote at their Monday meeting in Port Angeles.
The change, which takes affect Jan. 20, will eliminate the shuttle’s east-west routing in favor of a continuous route from the Sequim Transit Center through the east, north and west sides of the city.
A new feature will be a short loop around the OMC facilities and Jamestown Family Health Clinic with curbside access on North Fifth Avenue and Starboard Way.
On the return trip from Walmart, the shuttle will take West Hendrickson Road instead of continuing north to Old Olympic Highway and looping back to the transit center on North Sequim Avenue.
A bus will leave the transit center at the corner of Second Avenue and Cedar Street every 45 minutes.
Clallam Transit route maps are available at www.clallamtransit.com.
Information about the change to the Sequim shuttle is available with a map in a legal notice on the left side of the home page.
Clallam Transit Operations Manager Clint Wetzel said ridership continues to sag on the Sequim shuttle despite a route revision in April 2011.
“We went out to the citizens in the community on three different occasions, a couple of open houses and an information public forum, to get citizens’ input on what type of route they would like to have in Sequim,” Wetzel said.
“We gave them several different concepts of routes, and we kind of took all those concepts and developed one route.”
The No. 40 bus gets about 1,100 passengers per month.
“If we could increase our ridership by 10, 15 percent in the next year, I think that would be very gratifying,” Wetzel said.
“We’re just hoping to give the citizens something that will work for them and improve ridership.”
The area is also served by Clallam Transit’s dial-a-ride service.
Board member and Port Angeles City Councilman Patrick Downie said the change fits well with OMC’s plan to expand its Sequim campus with a 22,500-square-foot outpatient surgery center in 2015.
Becky Gourley of Sequim testified in the public hearing that the elimination of eastbound return trip on Old Olympic Highway will make it difficult to board the bus on Old Olympic and portions of North Sequim Avenue.
“There’s no safe place because it’s all cow pasture,” she said.
“You have to wait off into the grass or in the ditch to get out of the way of traffic.”
Gourley said the change also will increase travel times for some who rely on Clallam Transit to get around town.
“Without an return trip, personally, it will add about an hour-and-a-half to my shopping,” Gourley said.
Later in the meeting, Gourley asked the board: “If you want to try to increase ridership, how are you going to do it if you can’t safely access the bus?”
Several board members agreed that Clallam Transit should work with the city of Sequim to improve bus-boarding infrastructure, but they agreed that the proposed change was the best option.
“I think that Becky raises certainly some points of things that are going to need to be addressed in the very near future,” Clallam Transit board member and Forks Mayor Bryon Monohon said.
Monohon said the Clallam Transit should “keep trying to make this a better route.”
When Weitzel raised the possibility of tabling the proposal, Transit Board member and Clallam County Commissioner Mike Chapman said a new proposal would reset a lengthy planning process.
“I would love Transit to be a door-to-door agency and meet everybody’s needs, but that’s just not going to happen,” Chapman said.
“This is a great plan. You guys have worked really hard. We’ve gone to the public and I’m prepared to move forward with it today.”
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5072, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.