BELLINGHAM -Whatcom Transportation Authority is expanding bus service for the second time since voters approved a tax hike to support the agency.
Starting Sunday, Sept. 23, Sunday service will begin one hour earlier and end one hour later on all routes, except evenings on Route 105 to Fairhaven. Churches are being notified that this should improve service for their members, WTA General Manager Richard Walsh told the agency's board of directors Thursday, Sept. 20.
Also, a bus will be added to the evening runs of Route 401 to Fairhaven and Route 196 through Western Washington University, increasing service to once every half hour.
The changes were intended to coincide with the arrival of Western Washington University students.
A new route that started in June hasn't yet attracted enough riders to continue long term, Walsh said. Route 46, intended to serve those who work on the waterfront, has 26 passengers a day on average, about half of what is needed to justify the route. Businesses along Roeder Avenue will be told that ridership needs to increase for the route to continue, Walsh said.
The service additions will cost WTA $400,000 a year that comes from the 0.2 percent sales tax increase approved by Bellingham voters in November 2010. The tax, which creates $1.4 million in revenue for WTA, was used in 2011 to restore Sunday service in Bellingham.
Some routes and schedules also will change Sunday to improve WTA's on-time performance. The agency fell below on-time standards for morning and evening routes in 2011.
Evening arrival and departure times will change for Fairhaven routes 14 and 105. The schedule for Route 50 to Gooseberry Point will change on weekdays and Saturdays, and the times on Route 55 to Blaine and Birch Bay will change on weekdays.
Two routes have moved, also to improve on-time performance: Route 50 shifts from Alderwood Avenue to Cottonwood Avenue. Route 525 will no longer serve North Shore Drive, Silver Beach Avenue or Sylvan Street.
For more information call 360-676-7433.