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Friday, January 22, 2021

Planning game: new tool for WTA passengers

Whatcom County Transit now offers service packages on their website to better assist passenger needs. // Photo by Jackson Main
Whatcom County Transit now offers service packages on their website to better assist passenger needs. // Photo by Jackson Main

The Whatcom Transit Authority’s new service titled “Planning Game” will give community members the opportunity to build their own service strategy within a budget of 10 dollars.

Each strategy package has a description and breakdown of costs for customers to determine how to spend their money. The packages will offer more frequent service on weekdays, improvement of services between smaller cities and installation of bus shelters.  

“It’s a good way of educating folks that different types of services have different values or community benefits,” said Rick Nicholson, director of service development.

WTA received the tool from the consultant team they hired and enjoyed it, Nicholson said. The tool had previously been used in other communities, he said.

“A big part of what we’re trying to do in our strategic plan is educate people about the trade-offs involved in how WTA spends its money and what type of service we provide to the community,” Nicholson said.

WTA will use the results from the game during its strategic planning process.

Junior Nicole Loewen doesn’t think the bus system is ideal, but said she takes it to get around campus.

“At certain times of the day you’re always standing because there’s so many people on it,” Loewen said.

However, when it comes to something like grocery shopping, she chooses to drive.

Sophomore Stefan Kutz takes the bus everyday to and from school, but friends with cars offer alternatives to public transportation.

“The bus comes frequently …  I can’t really complain about that,” he said. “If I’m going to Fairhaven there’s buses that go directly there, so I’ve never had a problem with that.”

As for other ways of community input, WTA has two committees: a steering committee and a technical committee, Nicholson said. Each represent different interests throughout the county and Western is represented on both, he said.

The committees work with WTA on an ongoing basis in order to work on putting together a draft of the plan, Nicholson said.

Once they have the draft completed, WTA will begin hosting community meetings, which will be open to the general public.

Nicholson wasn’t sure exactly when and where the meetings will take place, but speculates some time in April at the earliest. To ensure student input, Nicholson said WTA wants to have a meeting before Western students leave in June.

The budget for the strategic planning process is no more than 400,000 dollars.



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