C-Tran routes changing; fares to rise

Busy No. 37 line to be split into three to match demand

By Eric Florip, Columbian transportation & environment reporter

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Additional information about the planned route changes and fare increases is available at C-Tran’s website.

C-Tran riders can expect to see changes to several bus routes starting next month, including a major adjustment on the agency's second-busiest line.

They'll also pay a little bit more to ride starting Sept. 1.

The No. 37 route, serving Vancouver's Mill Plain corridor and Highway 99, will essentially split into three routes starting Sept. 15. Two of those — the No. 37 and a new No. 38 bus — will continue to travel between East Mill Plain Boulevard and downtown Vancouver. A separate No. 71 bus will carry riders between downtown and Northeast 99th Street via Highway 99.

The result will give riders more frequent service along Mill Plain, and a new route for Highway 99. The shifts will better serve passengers by matching the demands already present on both corridors, said C-Tran public affairs manager Jim Quintana.

Many riders already treat the No. 37 as multiple routes, Quintana said. People often take the bus to travel along Mill Plain, or the Highway 99 segment, but usually not both on the same trip. Breaking it into separate lines allows C-Tran to tailor its schedule based on the needs of each corridor, Quintana said.

The end result will give riders a stand-alone route on Highway 99, less impacted by delays on Mill Plain. Having two overlapping routes on Mill Plain will give passengers a bus to catch every 15 minutes on weekdays, instead of every 20 minutes.

"It's a novel approach," Quintana said of the 37/38 combination.

Among the other route changes set to take effect next month:

• The No. 47 Battle Ground limited bus will be rerouted to connect Battle Ground with the 99th Street Transit Center, Clark College, downtown Vancouver and Delta Park in Portland. A "reverse commute" option will also travel from Battle Ground to Yacolt in the morning, and from Yacolt to Battle Ground in the evening.

• High demand on the No. 65 Parkrose limited line has prompted C-Tran to introduce Sunday service to the route that travels between Fisher's Landing Transit Center and the Parkrose/Sumner Transit Center in Northeast Portland.

• Due to low performance, Sunday service on the No. 2 Lincoln route will be dropped. The No. 35 Tech Center route will be eliminated entirely.

• C-Tran will adjust the schedules of its three Interstate 5 express routes to provide more evenly spaced departures and match passenger demand.

The changes won't cut overall service to riders, according to C-Tran. That means reductions to one route will be re-invested elsewhere in the system. The agency received 32 public comments on the proposed changes, mostly supportive, C-Tran senior planner Tom Shook wrote in an email.

The C-Tran board approved the route adjustments in June. Each will take effect Sept. 15.

Fares to increase

Upcoming changes won't just affect bus schedules. They'll also affect riders' pocketbooks. On Sept. 1, C-Tran will raise some fares for the sixth consecutive year.

Many single-ride cash fares will jump by a nickel. The move follows the agency's recent strategy of consistent but gradual fare hikes to help cover costs with less of a sudden impact to riders. The latest round of increases will generate an additional $200,000 per year, according to C-Tran.

"If we can do small, incremental fare increases, it's a lot easier on ridership," Quintana said, though officials have acknowledged that any increase drives away at least some riders.

The cash price for a single C-Zone adult ride in Clark County will jump from $1.65 to $1.70. A C-Zone ride for honored (ages 65 and older or disabled) and youth (18 and younger) riders will increase from 80 cents to 85 cents.

Single All-Zone fares, including trips to Portland, will remain unchanged for all riders.

The cost of a monthly adult C-Zone pass will rise from $58 to $60. The adult All-Zone monthly pass will remain unchanged at $100.

Want to buy a monthly Express pass? That will now cost $119, up from $116. A single-ride Express fare will increase from $3.50 to $3.60.

Eric Florip: 360-735-4541; http://twitter.com/col_enviro; eric.florip@columbian.com