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County connectors receive state funding
The bus service connecting three counties in the area has been gaining popularity in recent years and will continue.
The state legislature provided funding that will fund the Tri County connector and Everett Connector, which travel between Oak Harbor, Mount Vernon, Camano Island and Everett.
Island Transit officials had been worried that funding would be eliminated for the service that has been seeing increased ridership over the years. If the funding hadn’t been approved, then the service would have been canceled at the end of the month.
“We’re grateful for what we have,” Island Transit executive director Martha Rose said.
She said the legislature allocated $818,000 to fund for one year the connector route between Camano Island Everett.
The legislature also allocated $2.3 million for two years to fund the connector routes between Oak Harbor, Mount Vernon and Bellingham.
The transit entities in Island, Skagit, Snohomish and Whatcom counties will divy up the state funding.
Both connector services started in 2006 with 55,000 Island Transit riders using the Tri-County Connector between Oak Harbor and Mount Vernon and 8,100 riders using the Everett Connector between Camano Island and Everett.
Since its initial year, ridership on the connector routes have steadily increased.
In 2012, 147,000 Island Transit riders used the Tri-Connector and 45,500 riders used the Everett Connector, according to information provided by Island Transit.
While transportation officials are grateful for the state funding, Rose noted that the funding was based on 2005, and doesn’t keep up with current costs.
Transit officials involved with the connector service have been meeting to figure out ways to stretch funding.
Rose added that the funding for the Everett Connector lasts for one year and staff will have to work to resolve the gap.