Staff shortages cause Sound Transit to cut bus service

A slew of Sound Transit bus routes will see their service cut from March due to the continued industry-wide driver shortage, the transit agency announced on Friday.

At the same time, Sound Transit will restore four trips on the S line of its Sounder train – two from Seattle and two from Tacoma.

Light rail service will not be affected.

The reduction in bus service is a step in the opposite direction of what Sound Transit board members had hoped to see. In the fall, board members approved service increases beginning in March. But with the driver shortage, that won’t happen anymore.

“Evolving pandemic conditions and broad employment trends have since resulted in nationwide transit operator shortages, necessitating ST Express trip cancellations and route suspensions,” said the agency in a statement Friday.

Eight bus lines will see their service reduced:

  • 510 between Everett and Seattle
  • 511 between Ash Way and Northgate
  • 512 between Everett and Northgate
  • 532 between Everett and Bellevue
  • 535 between Lynnwood and Bellevue

Routes 545 and 550, which connect Seattle and Redmond and Bellevue respectively, will see wait times between arrivals extended to 10 minutes, from eight minutes previously. And the 522 line between Woodinville and Roosevelt will no longer stop at the Green Lake Park & ​​Ride lot at 65and Street.

Several other lines will see minor adjustments.

Transit ridership across Washington remains depressed from pre-pandemic levels, down 38% from 2019. On Sound Transit trains and buses, ridership in December was just over 2 million people. It was around 4 million in February 2020.

Melvin Z. Madore