New, redesigned bus routes come to South End

More runs, a newly designed route for businesses and doctors’ offices and improved connections to the ferries are among new changes coming Island Transit.

To help riders navigate the improvements, Island Transit is offering a free mobile application that will allow people to get real-time or scheduled arrival times.

In addition, the agency has a new system for tracking ridership. Each driver will have an easy-to-use tablet computer with GPS at his or her fingertips, according to Nicholas Pinch, operations manager.

The new bus schedules are also available and the agency’s website offers schedules, as well as in-depth explanations of the route changes.

“If you are a current rider, we are looking forward to improving your experience,” Executive Director Mike Nortier said in a press release. “If you don’t currently ride the bus, come give us a try and let us do the driving for you.”

The service improvements were made after gathering public input at meetings, holding discussions with other agencies and completing an in-depth analysis of the routes, which is a very complicated undertaking. Pinch, indicated that the improved service at the ferry docks should be popular with commuters and out-of-towners alike.

“That’s been demanded by the tourists,” he said. “Many of them walk on the ferry and need buses to take them into Langley, Freeland and all the way to Deception Pass.”

Island Transit officials are still hoping to bring back Saturday service, which was cut during a financial emergency in 2014. But it will likely have to wait until next year, according to Nortier.

Nortier laid out the focus of the changes in a press release:

• Added service to Oak Harbor Route 10 and a newly designed Route 3 that provides access to businesses and medical facilities;

• Greater access to Skagit Valley College and Oak Harbor Library;

• Increased connections to the Coupeville Ferry (increased to 17 connections from the current five);

• Increased connections to the Clinton Ferry (increased to 28 connections from the current 20);

• Improved connections with Skagit Transit at March’s Point;

• Three new or redesigned South Whidbey Routes – 56, 57, and 58 — that increase connectivity between Freeland, Langley, Scatchet Head, Ken’s Korner and the Clinton Ferry;

• Improved travel times;

• Extended service hours for select routes, and;

• Streamlined services from Oak Harbor to the Clinton Ferry.

The new routes go into effect Monday, July 3.

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