Whatcom Transportation Authority is proposing to shrink the bus routes serving Western students to only one route — Route 190.
Richard Nicholson, WTA director of service development, and other WTA staff members presented a plan to the public on May 23 after students complained about current confusing and inconvenient routes. Western students board busses from campus around two million times every year, making up about 40 percent of ridership in Whatcom County.
“We know that there are pros and cons to anything we come up with,” Nicholson said. “We’re wanting to see how students weigh the benefits versus the downside of this particular proposal.”
Currently, eight different bus routes in Whatcom County serve Western. The WTA, who operates the bus system in Whatcom County, is proposing to change the system.
Route 190 would run every 15 minutes in both directions on Bill McDonald Parkway. For commuters on Samish Way or 32nd Street, shuttles would run every 15 minutes. But the tradeoff is those shuttles would only run while classes are in session.
The streamlined service to Western is the single biggest change for students, Nicholson said. Other changes include elimination of routes 90A Lincoln Creek, 107 WWU, 108 Samish/WWU and 105 Fairhaven. Route 190 would be expanded to include the Lincoln Creek Transportation Center and Route 14 would be expanded to include the Amtrak and Greyhound stations in the evenings and on Sundays.
Students will be able to keep track of the changes as the website will be updated throughout the coming year, Nicholson said. Any changes should be implemented by March 2017.
Senior Andrew Fout attended the planning meeting and said the changes could be better. He said there were not enough direct lines to Meridian Street and suggested perhaps a larger budget accommodating for more buses at a higher frequency would make the proposal better.
Freshman Robert Lafferty said the changes wouldn’t affect him, but could potentially be a hardship for others.
“Just because I can still get to campus fairly easily from wherever I need to go, I don’t really see the point in having to change anything if it’s going to get in the way of other people,” Lafferty said.
Senior Kyaa Dost said he thought the streamlining of Route 190 would be nice, especially for freshmen who could be confused by the multiple routes.
Other students seemed pleased with service to campus as it is.
“For the most part Bellingham has a really good bus system,” sophomore Emma Walters said. “I’m pretty happy with it.”
Students are invited to go to the WTA planning website and complete a survey to offer feedback on the proposal.