The Route Ahead - January 2017

       January 2017 |  Community Transit News from CEO Emmett Heath

Community Transit Hires
Customer Experience Director

As part of an ongoing effort to improve its service to customers, Community Transit has hired Molly Marsicek to lead a new Customer Experience Department. Marsicek most recently served as Senior Manager of Customer Experience at Premera Blue Cross in Mountlake Terrace.

“We want to make sure our operations reflect a customer service attitude at all levels,” said Community Transit CEO Emmett Heath. “We may not be able to change traffic conditions on I-5, but we can continuously strive to improve our customers’ experience with our system.”

Photo: New Customer Experience Director, Molly Marsicek


Molly Marsicek
Fare Box Comparison

New Fare Boxes Tested
on Local Buses

The fare boxes that Community Transit now uses on its buses are no longer supported by the manufacturer, so the agency is testing a new fare box replacement. In a back-to-the-future twist, the new fare boxes are similar to those used by the agency years ago – a glass cube where cash is deposited then dropped into a secure box below.

Over the holidays, the agency moved to a second phase of the fare box test by adding the boxes on several high-cash routes: Routes 101, 115, 116, 201 & 202. The goal of the pilot is to identify how these fare boxes affect current work processes, including:

  • Day-to-day operations for drivers, maintenance and customers.
  • Installation and on-going maintenance on buses.
  • Impacts on finance staff and cash-handling procedures.

    Drivers are being surveyed for their feedback. The success of this second phase of the pilot will determine if the rest of the agency’s fleet will be outfitted with the new fare boxes.

    Photo, top: Current fare box
    Photo, bottom: New fare box

    Rte 113 Bus on an icy 148th St.

    Holiday Service Levels—
    More Art than Science

    The holiday season is not over yet. Between Thanksgiving Day and Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (Jan. 16), there are seven days warranting a “holiday”-level of bus service. And not every holiday has the same service.

    One reason for the high number of special service days was because Christmas and New Year’s Day fell on Sundays, so the following Mondays were observed holidays. In setting holiday service schedules, planners look at historical data. Traditionally, the highest ridership days are weekdays, followed by Saturdays, then Sundays. Then holidays, with Christmas Day typically the lowest ridership day of the year.

    Read more about holiday service schedules on the Community Transit blog.

    Bill Kalinowski Today and 20 Years Ago

    "Data-Meister" Celebrates 20 Years of Counting Riders

    Data Specialist Bill Kalinowski was honored at yesterday’s Community Transit Board of Directors meeting for 20 years of service, half of the agency’s existence. During that time, his job of tracking bus ridership, “dwell” times and on-time performance has evolved.

    Today, he sits at a high-powered computer reviewing and analyzing data that comes from a suite of on-board transit technologies, like automatic passenger counters, ORCA fare terminals and GPS. During his first 16 years at Community Transit, he was in the field every day riding buses or standing at bus stops to manually gathering that same data.

    “I used to ride about 500 bus trips a year,” Kalinowski recalled. ”Today, I track more than 455,000 weekday bus trips, plus those on the weekends. All from my desk.” The data he gathers, and the reports he produces, are used by planners and transportation managers at Community Transit, and outside agencies like Sound Transit, the Washington State Department of Transportation and the Federal Transit Administration.

    As one of four Community Transit service quality monitors in “the old days,” Kalinowski used to ride buses to count how many people boarded and got off the bus at each stop. He also spent time standing at bus stops with a watch to track how long a bus stayed at that stop (dwell time), and compare actual bus arrival times to posted schedule times. While all that data can now be gathered electronically, there are some experiences the computer screen doesn’t share.

    “I was riding the bus one time and overheard a conversation by a guy who, obviously, just got out of jail,” Kalinowski remembered. “He was telling someone about a motorcycle he left in Gold Bar whose gas tank was full of money. I think he was on his way to find it.”

    While he doesn’t know if that man found his fortune, or whether there was any truth to that tale, it was just one of many fond memories Kalinowski has of his bus adventures.

    So, does he miss it? “Only on nice days.”

    Photo, top: Bill on the bus in the beginning of his Community Transit career.
    Photo, bottom: CEO Emmett Heath congratulates Bill for 20 years of service.

    If you have any questions, please email

    CEO Signature

        Emmett Heath, CEO
        Community Transit