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Darrington commuter inspires weekend bus service
DARRINGTON For some passengers, Snohomish County Community Transits recently started regular weekend bus service to and from Darrington has been an added convenience, but for others, its been an extension of an essential connection.
On the stretch of State Route 530 between Arlington and Darrington, June and Donald Sutherland have no car and suffer from limited mobility, so the bus stop a quarter-mile down the road from their front door is the only way they can get to either town.
Both of the Sutherlands are retired and confined to power chairs, husband Donald because of his spinal arthritis and artificial knees, and wife June because of her transverse myelitis, an acute spinal cord inflammation that surgery was unable to correct.
At Community Transits official Oct. 7 inauguration of the weekend bus service, at the Darrington IGA store, June Sutherland was honored for inspiring the weekend service through weeks of gathering more than 150 signatures from local IGA shoppers supporting the weekend service, and months of correspondence with Community Transit.
I use the bus three to four times every two weeks, Sutherland said. My husband uses it about once a month to go to the doctor and visit the library. I go shopping for groceries, but sometimes, its just nice to be able to get a ride, away and out of the house.
While Sutherland likewise touted the environmental and traffic benefits of bus travel, asserting that public transportation results in less pollution and fewer accidents on the road, she also admitted that without it, were stranded out here. Even if we had a car, we couldnt afford to fuel it up, what with gas prices lately. The bus is our lifeline.
With weekend bus service, the Sutherlands can take part in weekend events, such as white sales, and cash their pension checks whenever they might receive them in the mail.
Donald Sutherland laughed and cited his wifes work to get weekend bus service up and running as one of the ways that she still surprises me, every day, since she posted several notices in the IGA, over the course of at least three weeks, to collect all her signatures, expressing his admiration for her fortitude in pushing this thing through.
Darrington commuters now have a total of four round trips available to them over the weekend, with two trips on Saturdays and two on Sundays. One morning trip and one early evening trip are available on each Saturday, with a similar schedule available on each Sunday. Community Transits previous schedule only covered three morning and three afternoon and evening trips, during weekdays, to and from Darrington, the furthest service point from its Everett base in Snohomish County.