Skagit Transit offers free bus rides to people needing warm place to stay during cold snap

A winter weather advisory begins Tuesday evening for Skagit County, as possibilities of snow and freezing rain are in the forecast.

Finding a safe, warm place to stay during the cold snap is not easy for those who don’t have their own transportation. Skagit Transit has a solution: offering free bus rides for those who need it.

"Proud of our team for being able to provide services to our population that needs help," said Skagit Transit CEO Crystle Stidham.

After Skagit County Emergency Management and the Department of Human Services declared a need for additional spaces as temperatures dropped, the county opened 12 temporary cold weather shelters and warming centers in Anacortes, Burlington, Concrete, La Conner, Mount Vernon, and Sedro-Wooley. Human Services provided a list of locations and hours on its website.

"It’s a need within the community," said Stidham.

Since Jan. 10, the transportation system has been offering free bus rides to all passengers heading to a county cold weather shelter or warming center location. 

"Anyone that wants to go to a shelter, all they have to do is get on the bus, tell the bus driver that they’re riding to a warming shelter, and they will allow them to board for free," the CEO explained.

Stidham said 16 bus routes provide free rides to the shelters and centers. She said one route alone can see up to 100 passengers per day.

"Some of our homeless population will get on to stay warm. They have to have a destination, of course," said Stidham.

Skagit Transit provided a list of routes and shelter or center locations on its website.

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Anytime a cold weather shelter is open, Stidham said Skagit Transit will extend its free rides to those who need to get out of the freezing conditions.

"Serving the community. Can’t do it without our bus drivers, of course, and the staff that get our buses out on the road every morning. The ones that chain up our buses, keep them clean and fueled," said Stidham.

Skagit Transit said anyone needing help with bus routes and schedules to reach a shelter or center safely is encouraged to call their customer service line at 360-757-4433.