While future growth needs to be prioritized for transit-strong communities, people in rural communities — especially older adults, people with disabilities, low income individuals, tribal members, and agricultural and resource industry workers in rural areas — must still have the ability to get to school, work, shops, and medical appointments.
Unfortunately, too often people in our rural communities cannot get to where they need to go, especially if they cannot drive, whether due to ability or lack of access to a vehicle.
One reason is that public transit agencies typically do not provide high levels of fixed route or paratransit service in rural areas. It makes sense: by prioritizing urban over rural areas for higher levels of transit service, more people can ride the bus for every dollar spent. This a win for the environment (getting more cars off the road), and often a win for equity as often more people of color live in urbanized areas.
Still, all people deserve a baseline level of mobility that enables them to live a dignified life, and it's unconscionable to leave our rural residents stranded without the ability to easily get to medical appointments, school, jobs, and other basic life necessities.
Fortunately, we know rural residents can enjoy the freedom of mobility, too. People and organizations in rural communities are exceptional at digging in and working together to find the innovative solutions that work for them.
Through our North Snohomish County Transportation Committee, Snotrac has been working with the communities of Camano-Stanwood and Darrington to improve their mobility options.
Stanwood & Camano Island
Starting back in 2017, Snotrac began working with the stakeholders in Stanwood, Camano Island, and Arlington to identify mobility gaps and opportunities. In 2020, Snotrac, alongside the Lincoln Hill Retirement Community (then named the "Stanwood Community & Senior Center"), managed a community survey and technical feasibility study for establishing a new flex-route transit service.
Following the study, the Lincoln Hill Retirement Community proposed a new flex-route transit service that would serve Camano Island and Stanwood and connect to Smokey Point in Arlington, and was successful in its state grant application (applied Oct. 2020, awarded spring 2021, funded for 2021-23 biennium).
Snotrac held a community naming contest in May-June 2021. Out of 120 submissions, "Snow Goose Transit" won. On January 10, 2022, the Lincoln Hill Retirement Community officially launched Snow Goose Transit.
Darrington & the Stillaguamish Valley
Darrington is 28 miles from the nearest city, Arlington. With only two fixed route transit trips on weekdays and no paratransit service by Community Transit, residents of Darrington and the Stillaguamish Valley have few options but to drive. For people who cannot drive, this is a serious problem.
In Spring 2021, Snotrac convened stakeholders and commissioned a mobility study for the area. The resulting report presented a suite of transportation options that could be deployed to better fill the transportation gaps in the area.
With several partners pitching in, including the North Counties Family Services, North Counties Community Collaborative, Sauk-Suiattle Tribe, Homage Senior Services, and Community Transit, we are currently working to rollout an initial package of new transportation options in March 2022.
Monroe & the Snoqualmie Valley
Through our advocacy and coalition work, Snotrac supports Snoqualmie Valley Transportation, which provides transit services in the Snoqualmie Valley from Monroe to North Bend. We also actively participate in the Snoqualmie Valley Mobility Coalition.
East Snohomish County
Snotrac looks forward to convening stakeholders from Monroe to Skykomish to identify their mobility challenges and opportunities, and to work together to implement solutions. A new East Snohomish County Transportation Committee will be established soon.