North Sound Transportation Alliance

The North Sound Transportation Alliance (NSTA), formerly known as the Farmhouse Gang,  is a coalition of concerned citizens, elected officials and professional staff of transportation agencies from Washington’s five northwestern-most counties: Whatcom, Skagit, Island, San Juan and northern Snohomish. NSTA strives to develop better ways for people to travel in the region by pursuing the following objectives:

Download the NSTA Backgrounder document for more information.

Focus Workshops

NSTA participants hold a series of topic focus workshops to identify key strategies and actionable items that can be used to develop a work plan for 2019-2020.

Health & Transportation

A Health and Transportation Workshop was held in September, 2017 to identify a list of initial solutions to address gaps in healthcare transportation within NSTA’s five county region.

A second meeting to narrow the scope of suggestion action items was held September 14, 2018, and a follow-up discussion in early 2019. Results from these meetings are listed below.

September 14, 2018 Health and Transportation Workshop Executive Summary

September 8, 2017 Health & Transportation Workshop Summary

September 8, 2017 Health & Transportation Workshop Full Report of Proceedings

Regional Ferry Service

On April 13, 2018 participants held a Focus on Ferries Workshop to identify key priorities for future ferry improvements in the region. The workshop specifically looked to address “door to door, not shore to shore” travel solutions and look at sustainable ferry service that accommodates projected ridership growth. Conclusions from this workshop will be shared at events around the region in 2018 and projects will be identified for addition to the 2019 Work Plan.

April 13, 2018 Focus on Ferries Workshop Report of Proceedings

Regional Trails & Active Transportation

The first goal of the April 26, 2019 Trails & Active Transportation Workshop, held in Mt. Vernon, Washington, was to develop a list of active transportation goals that are prioritized and can be used to identify future project strategies. A second goal was to subsequently identify those regional trail and active transportation projects that have the potential to be a regional connector. Results from the workshop are available below.

April 26, 2019 Trails & Active Transportation Workshop Executive Summary

April 26, 2019 Trails & Active Transportation Workshop Full Report of Proceedings

Completed projects

The following projects were completed prior to 2017 and were completed with grant funding for the North Sound Connecting Communities Project, also known as the Farmhouse Gang.

County Connector Passenger Survey

The Whatcom Council of Governments (WCOG) conducted a passenger survey on all four County Connector routes in March and April of 2015. The County Connector Passenger Survey was funded by the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) using Regional Transportation Planning Organization (RTPO) funds.  This report summarizes results of the first passenger survey conducted on the county connector service.

County Connector Transit Service

As a result of the Intermodal Connections and Commuter Study, funding was set aside by former State Senator Mary Margaret Haugen for a joint transit project providing continuous transit service within Whatcom, Skagit and Island Counties.  This project was subsequently made permanent and continues to provide transportation connections to schools, colleges, medical facilities and other services.  Additional connections were coordinated later to allow transit travel from Whatcom County through Skagit and Island Counties to Everett, the major employment center in Snohomish County.

Business Case Study of Passenger-only Ferry Service Between Bellingham and Friday Harbor 

Through NSTA, funds contributed by several parties were combined to determine the fiscal feasibility of and best-case ownership and operating arrangements for such a service, based on a previous four-month ferry service pilot project and survey.

Traveler Information Kiosk System

This pilot project established ten traveler information kiosks at major transportation crossroads around the region, including train stations, ferry terminals and airports. The kiosks were supplied with poster-sized Transportation Connections maps as well as individual brochures.  This project was funded by a combination of local contributions and federal Transportation Enhancement funds.  Although this project has been completed, WCOG continues to provide maps and update the posters.

Regional Transportation Governance Study

In 2001, the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Transportation identified regional governance of transportation as an area in which improvement was necessary.  Following up on these recommendations, the State Legislature considered a number of legislative proposals regarding regional governance and financing mechanisms.  NSTA requested and received funding to conduct its own study of regional transportation governance models, and to develop alternatives that would build upon the positive working relationships that hed been developed in northwest Washington.  The Governance Study was prepared by the Whatcom Council of Governments and the Cascadia Project of the Discovery Institute and was completed in 2002.

Recommendations Regarding Governance

Although the Governance Study found no compelling need or interest in changing fundamental attributes of the NSTA, it did identify opportunities for improvement, including clarification of the coalition’s purpose, mission and goals.  Among the recommendations were clarifying NSTA goals, developing performance measures to better gauge levels of success and strengthening the coalition’s support for its existing constituencies.

Intermodal Connections and Commuter Study

This study examined existing and future demand for work-based and other types of commuter transportation in northwestern Washington and considered the availability, feasibility and desirability of all potential modes.

For more information

For more information, please contact Melissa Fanucci, Principal Planner at or (360) 685-8385.