Sunday Service May Be Returning

More than 9 years ago, Ben Franklin Transit launched the first Sunday transit service to ever be operated in the Tri-Cities. Beginning on February 15 2004, the service ran as a demand-response operation using a contractor. Service was available on a first-come, first-serve basis (just like Night Service) and ran from 8AM-5PM, with riders being charged a fare of $1.75. While popular with those who used the service, it was one of the more costly items in the BFT budget and thus was one of the first things to be cut after the recession hit. After the Fall Shakeup began in September 2009, transit riders in the Tri-Cities  were once again left with no service on Sundays.

Since then, things have started to improve at BFT. While the long-term future may not be secure just yet, the budget is once again in the black. Small improvements have already begun, such as the introduction of 4 brand new buses featuring a brand new livery and the addition of new taxi feeder areas. However, perhaps one of the biggest things was a subtle mention from staff at this month’s board of directors meeting that Sunday Service may be returning. Though it’s only a proposal at this point, if it were to return Sunday Service would operate from 8AM-6PM as a demand-response service operated by a contractor. Fares would likely be $3 per ride, or riders can also use the Freedom Pass for unlimited rides.

Interesting to note is that this isn’t the only service expansion that is being proposed. Staff are also looking at extending Night Service to operate from 6:30PM-2AM (currently it runs 7PM-12:30AM), along with removing the current cap on rides provided by Night Service, which means it’ll be much easier to book a ride on Night Service now. Taxi Feeder service would also be extended a half hour to end at 6:30PM (currently it ends at 6PM).

On August 20th, a public hearing will be held at 2PM in the conference room at Three Rivers Transit Center. Comments will also be accepted via BFT’s customer comment line (734-5201) or by emailing contact@bft.org. I for one will be supporting these proposed changes, and I certainly hope that everyone else does as well.

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