Arts & Entertainment

Let Ben Franklin Transit get behind the wheel

Ben Franklin Transit wants to make sure you have fun at Water Follies.

The agency's special bus service during Follies weekend will help you avoid paying high gas prices and stay clear of traffic hassles.

And if you plan to drink beer at the boat races, the bus service can help you avoid getting behind the wheel. This year, the Washington State Patrol will have a mobile unit ready to test suspected drunken drivers.

The bus service also will help improve traffic safety on Highway 240, officials said.

Parts of Highway 240 near Columbia Park often get congested, particularly in the evening, with anxious parents waiting in their cars to pick up their kids after the races, said Christy Watts, marketing supervisor for Ben Franklin Transit.

Parents can safely drop off and pick up their kids at various transit stations from where buses would run at regular intervals to and from Columbia Park during Water Follies weekend, she said, adding that she expects an increase in the number of commuters. Last year, about 1,000 people used the bus service during the three-day event.

For July 25-26, riders can board Route 55 from the Dayton Transfer Center in Kennewick, near the Keewaydin Park branch of the Mid-Columbia Library, every hour on the half-hour from 8:30 a.m. through 6:30 p.m.

On July 27, the shuttle will run from the Knight Street Transit Center in Richland and the Huntington Transit Center in Kennewick, every hour on the hour from 8 to 11 a.m.

One-way tickets cost $1 for adults and 65 cents for children 18 and under. Seniors and kids 5 and under ride for free. Bus passes will be accepted.

A free west-end shuttle will drop off and pick up commuters inside Columbia Park from 10 a.m. until 15 minutes after the last race.

Return trips from Columbia Park to the transit centers will be available from the Columbia Park bus zone from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The last shuttle will leave 15 minutes after the last race.

On the Pasco side of the Columbia River, transit buses will leave the 22nd Street Transit Center every 30 minutes beginning at 8 a.m. all three days. The last shuttle will depart at 11 a.m.

The drop points will be at Riverhaven and Road 44 and the lot at Road 39. Buses will depart for Pasco transit center 15 minutes after the last race from these drop-off points.

Fare is $1 is each way for all ages and $2.75 each way for a family of three or more.

Dial-A-Ride Service is available July 27 for those eligible. Service runs from 8 to 11 a.m. The Dial-A-Ride buses will leave the Columbia Park special needs area west of the bleachers 15 minutes after the last race. Dial-A-Ride users who want to leave early will be helped by a transit supervisor present at the location, Watts said.

Rides cost $1 and must be reserved by noon July 25. To make a reservation, call 735-0160. For more information about the transit's Water Follies bus schedule, call 735-5100.

*Pratik Joshi: 582-1541;