Snohomish County transit will not allow grocery store carts on buses amid driver backlash

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Update (September 17 at 10:16 a.m.):

Community Transit has done an about-face on a policy that would have allowed grocery store shopping carts on its buses.

Several drivers had reached out to the Dori Monson Show to express their frustration after the agency said it would allow homeless people to bring those carts aboard for the sake of “equity”. The drivers’ concerns centered on safety and transporting stolen carts.

After extensive coverage Wednesday and Friday on The Dori Monson Show, the drivers have received this memo:

Updated Information On Shopping Carts on CT busses from COO Mark Holmes

Community Transit Colleagues,

Throughout the week, Executive Leadership Team has heard our employees’ concerns around potentially allowing grocery carts on our buses. This has stemmed from conversations related to the newly-released Rules of Conduct.

I want to take this opportunity to clarify for everyone that we will not permit store-owned grocery carts on our buses. On behalf of the executive leadership team, I want to apologize for the frustration and confusion that previous guidance on this topic has caused. The guidance shared earlier was a byproduct of a misunderstanding at the executive leadership level and it has since been resolved.

Rest assured, the only type of carts that are allowed on our buses are those that are collapsible, can be safely stored between the seats, and do not block the aisles.

The new Rules of Conduct are a major part of our safety & security strategy. They fill gaps in our enforcement authority and respond directly to feedback we have heard from you. Going forward, they will be the primary tool for our staff – including new Transit Security Officers next year – to maintain proper behavior aboard our services.

Thank you for sharing your concerns. Your patience during this process has been greatly appreciated. I know this has caused frustration for many and I apologize for this. We appreciate all you do every day in service to the community and riders.

Mark A. Holmes
Chief Operating Officer

Original Story:

Community Transit, the public transit authority for Snohomish County, has permitted shopping carts on certain buses after performing an equity analysis.

The transit agency’s rules of conduct note that “personal carts, grocery carts, and bicycle trailers are allowed, provided they can be stored between seats without blocking the aisle.”

Internal memos between community transit employees and Jacob Peltier, risk management manager with Community Transit, compared “personal carts” and “grocery carts” to baby strollers, making the point that “from an equity lens, it did not make sense to prohibit shopping carts or personal carts while allowing strollers based on the county’s equity review.”

Clarification with Community Transit confirms that “full-sized shopping carts won’t be allowed on any bus that can’t accommodate them.” That would leave only Swift Coaches as a bus type with the capacity for grocery carts.

According to Peltier, if the county were to see an increase in injuries related to shopping carts, the agency would then evaluate the need for a rule change.

Community Transit serves more than 2,100 stops, and 22 park and ride lots – including the newer four-story Mountlake Terrace Transit Center near the King/Snohomish county line. Some routes run from Snohomish County into downtown Seattle and the Northgate light rail station. As of early this year, the system reported a ridership of 4.862 million – about 16,900 weekday riders. It’s considered the fourth largest transit agency in the greater Puget Sound region.

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