The Sound Transit Board of Directors adopted the 2022 Service Plan on November 17, 2021, approving the service increases proposed for 2022.
However, many of the operating conditions have changed over the course of the pandemic since initial service improvement proposals were shared in Spring and Summer of 2021. Since sharing service proposals, the course of pandemic shifted dramatically with the emergence of the Delta variant, the current unfolding of the Omicron variant, and the reintroduction of pandemic restrictions. In addition, larger employment trends have resulted in a nationwide shortage in transit operators, requiring trip cancelations and route suspensions.
In November 2021, an emergency service reduction was required on Pierce Transit-operated ST Express routes. While formalizing the cancelations gave passengers better schedule predictability, the reductions impacted many of the routes that had proposed investments in the 2022 Service Plan. The duration of staffing shortages remains uncertain, and as such, service proposals approved in the 2022 Service Plan may be partially implemented or deferred until operator availability improves. Likewise, our partners at King County Metro and Community Transit are also facing operator shortages, requiring trip cancelations.
Beginning March 2022, Route 566 will be operated by King County Metro, alleviating some stresses to staffing levels on other South Sound services. Sound Transit will continue to collaborate with its regional partners to mitigate the impacts of the service reductions, focus on restoring service from these emergency reductions, and eventually begin work on the vision outlined in the 2022 Service Plan.