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WTA chaining up buses, plowing roads and evaluating routes to keep buses running

Whatcom Transportation Authority bus with chains on (December 27, 2021). Photo courtesy of WTA

WHATCOM COUNTY, Wash. — While saying buses will be running today, December 30th, during a snow event, a Whatcom Transportation Authority official with over 32 years of experience with the agency said they recalled only one instance when all buses stopped running. It was in the early 1990s during a silver thaw (freezing rain atop snow). There was an emergency declared in Whatcom County at the time, and WTA was not allowed to operate.

WTA has equipment and personnel that plow, sand and salt key locations along some routes and they have been out this morning to keep certain routes open.

Speaking to the current compact snow and ice situation, “WTA will continue to run to the best of our ability.” Buses headed out this morning with chains on and some first runs were considered trials to see whether a regular or modified route will need to be followed. They noted that a chained bus cannot go faster than 25mph so all routes will be delayed.

Paratransit riders are encouraged to cancel non-urgent rides today and to call their destination to make sure the business or office is open. “It’s rough to struggle through snow and ice only to discover an office closed sign on the door.” Information about riding paratransit during snow events is available by clicking here.

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Flex Service is another ancillary WTA service that gets difficult to provide during snow events. According to the WTA website, “Depending on conditions, we may not be able to offer flex stops on flex routes. You can check by calling (360) 676-7433.”

An auxiliary bus was added to the Kendall area yesterday to provide Flex service was expected to continue running today. But as of 7am, it was reported to have become stuck on the way out to Kendall.

WTA officials say route statuses are changing “minute to minute” as they encounter detours and obstacles due to road conditions.

Riders are advised to plan for delays, and to check the list of stops not served when roads are snowy or icy.

Riders can check the current status of routes via WTA’s Twitter account or by calling (360) 676-7433.

Riders can track bus locations in real time via the Bus Tracker app (iPhone, Android, Computer).

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