Passengers get off a Jefferson Transit bus at the Haines Park and Ride in Port Townsend on Wednesday. — Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News ()

Jefferson County Transit Authority seeks public input on development plan

PORT TOWNSEND –– As the Jefferson County Transit Authority looks toward expanding services in the coming years, it is asking for feedback on its development plan, which highlights the system’s goals through 2021.

Among the goals is to prepare expanding sustainable service, starting in 2017, said Tammi Rubert, general manager, during a public hearing Tuesday.

The public hearing will remain open and the public will have an opportunity to comment until the transit board meets again Aug. 17.

“We want to hear from the public, the riders and non-riders alike,” she said. “This will help determine what our service will look like in the future.”

This is the first time in five years that Jefferson Transit is looking to expand its services, she said.

Jefferson Transit’s operational reserve has 82 percent of the funds needed before the transit authority will begin planning for expansion.

Rubert had anticipated the fund would be at 100 percent by 2018, but because of an increase in sales tax revenue over the previous years, the fund should be full by the end of the year.

“We’re pretty excited about it,” she said. “Our sales tax revenue has come in higher than we anticipated and continues to do so.”

The reserve fund has a three-month’s supply of funds, which would help Jefferson Transit get through another financial crisis, such as the 2008 recession.

“Our plan was always to say we have a minimum of three-month operating reserve before we start adding services,” she said.

To help stabilize Jefferson Transit’s financials, the board cut service on Sundays in June 2013, she said.

Only 4 percent of the ridership rode the bus on Sunday and the bus did not connect to other counties, she said.

To figure out exactly what the expanded services would look like, the agency is asking riders and non-riders to fill out a survey that will be available for the next five months.

The survey is available online at http://tinyurl.com/PDN-JeffcoTransitsurvey.

Hard copies are available on the buses and throughout Port Townsend, she said.

The survey results won’t be a part of the transit development plan, but will be used to guide the expansions.

Exactly when those expansions would be isn’t yet known, she said.

“We’re trying to gather a larger amount of information than we have in the past,” she said.

“How long will that take, I’m not quite sure.”

Once the survey has been out for five months, the plan is to analyze the results and possibly create a secondary survey.

Jefferson Transit will then put together a proposed service change based on the answers and the analysis, she said.

The Transit Development Plan outlines many of Jefferson Transit’s goals.

Exactly what will be done depends on if Jefferson Transit can secure funding from the state. Rubert said goals need to be included in the plan for the state to consider them for funding.

One of the goals is to find funding to increase the shuttle to every 15 minutes and to increase the frequency of commuter routes.

The plan calls for working with developers and local governments to add service, shelters, bus pullouts, rider-controlled light signals at stops to new commercial areas and housing developments.

Jefferson Transit also plans to add shelters, i-Stops and bicycle lockers at several locations in East Jefferson County and two locations in West Jefferson County.

“We know the frequency of service is what gets people on the bus,” she said.

“Hopefully we’ll be able to increase our frequency and fill the gaps and get more people riding the bus.”

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Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at [email protected]

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