Plans in the works to cut 2 Yakima Transit bus lines

Plans in the works to cut 2 Yakima Transit bus lines
YAKIMA, Wash. -- Upcoming cuts to state funding for Yakima Transit means some people may be out of a ride. Yakima says without the necessary funding and grants they won't be able to keep up with all of their bus routes. At this week's city council meeting, council will be asked to eliminate the Yakima/Ellensburg commuter line, as well as the Sunday service.

Santos Esquibel is a regular at Yakima's downtown transit center. Like many people, it's his only means of transportation.

"I don't drive at all right now; I don't even have a car," said Esquibel.

The bus takes him everywhere he needs to go, and doesn't break his budget.

"If I had to ask for a ride to anybody, I'm going to pay like five to ten bucks, remember, I mean, depending on where I'm going," said Esquibel.

Yet that may be the only option soon for passengers that normally take the Sunday line. Public Works is recommending that City Council eliminate the Sunday service in April. The line covers six routes between Yakima and Selah. It averages close to 800 passengers per Sunday and costs Yakima $165,000 a year.

The news of the cut is leaving some in a scramble.

"I'd probably have to get a bike instead of the bus, or walk," said Wayne Ervin, a Yakima bus rider. "I mean, I can't depend on nobody to really drive me around all over."

The Yakima/Ellensburg line is the next service scheduled to be cut in July. The bus line started at the end of 2011 for teachers and students traveling between YVCC and CWU. Ridership increased from about 40,000 in 2012 to 54,000 in 2013. It costs more than $500,000 to run the line; from that the city chips in $65,000.

Despite success from both of these bus lines, the city says without grant funding it can't afford to continue the service - leaving some bus passengers wondering how they'll afford to get around.

"It is very necessary, especially for older, older people," said Esquibel.

Dial-A-Ride service on Sundays will continue, but the hours will be cut back. The city says a public hearing is not required to cut the bus lines.
Council will be asked to make a decision at this week's meeting.