Community Transit, which serves most of the northern suburbs of Seattle, is shutting down completely on Sundays. This wouldn’t be unusual in a small-city transit system, but CT’s service area (most of Snohomish County) is a big suburban expanse with about half a million people. It has enough transit demand to support a low-end Bus Rapid Transit line, called Swift, which will presumably not run on Sundays either.
This is a fairly dramatic step by North American standards. Local transit in suburban areas generally appeals to people with few choices, but many, many of these people work in low-wage jobs in the service sector, such as restaurants and big-box retail. These business are open seven days a week and often are busiest on weekends, so most of their employees have to work some weekend shifts. A transit system that doesn’t run on Sundays will no longer be useful to these people. Based on what I’ve seen elsewhere, most of them will find other arrangements; CT is likely to lose them on all five days a week that they travel, not just Sunday. Some, those without any good transport options, may lose their jobs.
I hope CT or some other local government researches what happens to these riders when Sunday service ends. The best approach might be to survey the Sunday riders before the service stops, asking them for follow-up contacts so that they can be interviewed again a few months in the future. This would not only provide good data for other agencies facing the need to cut service, but would also be a nice way for the agency to convey some concern for the well-being of these customers.