Ben Franklin Transit may add more services; meeting planned Tuesday

By Geoff Folsom, Tri-City HeraldAugust 18, 2013 

Ben Franklin Transit is looking to add additional service for some of its riders.

The agency will hold a public hearing Tuesday to discuss expanding the hours of its night taxi service to between 6:30 p.m. and 2 a.m.

The Trans +Plus service, which provides call-ahead curb-to-curb taxi service in Kennewick, Pasco, Richland and West Richland for $3 each way, now operates between 7 p.m. and 12:30 a.m.

"Not everybody works 8-to-5," said Franklin County Commissioner Bob Koch, who chairs Ben Franklin Transit's planning and marketing committee. "There is some swing shift."

The agency's regular fixed-route buses stop running at 6 p.m.

Ben Franklin Transit is also considering adding contracted Sunday service between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Sunday service was discontinued in 2008 because of low sales-tax revenue.

Agency spokeswoman Christy Watts said Sunday service would work the same way as the night service, where people call ahead to schedule a ride later in the day. Passengers have to share rides with others who may be on their way to a destination in the same area.

Many people would like Sunday service because they need a ride to church, Watts said.

Koch expects Ben Franklin Transit's board to ultimately approve the changes, as long as financing is in place.

"It's something that we're trying to bring back from years past," he said. "When everything got tight, we had to drop a few items."

Ben Franklin Transit is able to fund the additional service because of better returns on its six-tenths of a percent sales tax than in recent years, Watts said.

The agency is also able to get more money because the population of its service area has grown large enough to allow it to be funded directly by the federal government instead of having grants pass through the state.

While no additional fixed-route service is on the agenda for the public hearing, Watts said a task force is looking at expanding routes in east Kennewick and east Pasco. The agency has heard a number of requests for services there.

"There's more housing going out in those areas now," she said.

The hearing is scheduled for 2 p.m. Tuesday at the Three Rivers Transit Center, 7109 W. Okanogan Place in Kennewick. Comments can also be made by Tuesday in writing, by email at or on the customer comment line at 734-5201.

Comments taken at the meeting will go to Ben Franklin Transit's planning and marketing committee at its Sept. 3 meeting, Watts said. If recommended by the committee, the proposal will go to the full board Sept. 12.

"If all approve, the new service could start very soon after that," she said.

-- Geoff Folsom: 509-582-1543;; Twitter: @GeoffFolsom

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