Yakima Transit Revision

Yakima Transit 34Late last month, local media in Yakima reported that Yakima Transit was considering eliminating Route 8 and revising Route 1. In this proposal, all service west of 72nd Avenue would be eliminated. After holding a public hearing on the proposal and accepting public comments, it seemed as though the Yakima City Council would approve this without much thought. However, in a bit of a surprise move, the City Council deferred the vote to cut Route 8 by 6-1 and asked Yakima Transit officials to conduct further study on this.

In the proposal for the elimination of Route 8, Yakima Transit officials noted that this route has the lowest ridership in the entire system (with Route 1 having the 2nd-lowest ridership). Part of the reason for this might be that both Route 1 and 8 only run at 60-minute headways throughout the day, along with only Route 1 operating on Saturday/Sunday. There’s no data on it, but it appears that these routes also have a major problem with on-time performance. Lastly, Route 1 and 8 are a bit stretched out, literally. Going all the way to the western edge of the city, both routes travel out to 96th Avenue before turning around and heading back towards Downtown Yakima. As a general rule, most transit planners will tell you that transit ridership decreases the further away you get from the city center.

While not small by any means, Yakima Transit isn’t exactly a large transit agency. Referring to the schedules, it appears that only 16 buses are in service during peak hours (excluding trippers and the Yakima-Ellensburg Commuter) on the 10 routes serving Yakima and Selah. With its small city nature, Yakima Transit’s route structure has a lot of oddities and quirks in the design, such as Route 1/8 turning into a parking lot for a senior center in west Yakima instead of just having a stop on the street. Perhaps my favorite example is the odd route numbering system, where all routes (except 6 and 10) operate in looped pairs with one route running clockwise and the other running counter-clockwise. Perhaps there is a good reason for this, but as an outside observer with multiple experiences with Yakima Transit, it really doesn’t seem very useful.

While it’s not clear what direction Yakima Transit officials will take in regards to Route 8, it seems more than likely that it will be cut. I figured this may be a good time to reevaluate the network as a whole and see about making some changes that could improve things. Below is a map of my proposed restructure of Yakima Transit.

For the most part, the changes I propose are subtle. Details are listed below.

Route 1
This proposal assumes that Route 8 will be cut, so Route 1 is revised to serve the key parts of the old 1/8 paring while also preserving the service out to 96th Ave, which was heavily cited in comments from the public as reasons not to cut Route 8. Service is provided on Yakima Ave and Summitview Ave, with service to the West Valley area kept intact with a counter-clockwise loop on 72nd Ave/Tieton Dr/96th Ave/Summitview Ave. Service to Lincoln Ave/Englewood Ave and 65th Ave is discontinued, but these areas are still mostly within a 10 minute walkshed of the revised Route 1.

Route 2/5
To simplify the routes, the clockwise/counter-clockwise looping system is abandoned. Instead, Routes 2 and 5 are revised to an interline loop, with Route 2 providing bidirectional service on Walnut St, Tieton Dr, and 72nd Ave, and Route 5 providing bidirectional service on 6th St, Nob Hill Blvd, and 64th Ave. At the corner of 72nd Ave and Washington Ave, buses running as the outbound Route 5 will become the inbound Route 2, and vice versa.

Route 3/4
To simplify the routes, the clockwise/counter-clockwise looping system is abandoned. Instead, Routes 3 and 4 are revised to an interline loop, with Route 3 providing bidirectional service on 3rd Ave, Mead Ave, 16th Ave, and J St, and Route 4 providing bidirectional service on 5th Ave, River Rd, 34th Ave, Englewood Ave, and 20th Ave. At Public Works Transit Center, buses running as the outbound Route 4 will become the inbound Route 3, and vice versa. (More about Public Works Transit Center below.)

Route 6
Currently, Route 6 operates as a two-part route, with a bus on Route 6N and another on Route 6S leaving Yakima Transit Center at the same times on 30 minute headways. Anchored around Gateway Center and the Wal-Mart just east of I-82 on the other side of downtown, both parts of Route 6 run in a long, circuitous loop with an abundance of turns through the residential neighborhoods north, east, and south of downtown. To simplify things, the route sees a major overhaul in this proposal. Service is provided on 8th St, Lincoln Ave/MLK Blvd (one-way couplet), Fair Ave, 18th St, Washington Ave, and 1st St to the Valley Mall Transfer Point. (More about the Valley Mall Transfer Point below.) in the middle of the route, there is a split where southbound buses will serve Pacific Ave and 18th St, while northbound buses will serve Mead Ave and Fair Ave. It is worth noting that south of Mead Ave, buses will be crossing into Union Gap, which is not in the Yakima Transit taxing area. This proposal assumes that Union Gap would be okay with Yakima Transit buses serving part of the city without a tax contribution from them, and also that Union Gap Transit would continue its existing service in the area.

Route 7/9
To simplify the routes, the clockwise/counter-clockwise looping system is abandoned. Instead, Route 7 and 9 are revised to an interline loop, with Route 7 providing bidirectional service on 6th Ave, I St, Fruitvale Blvd, and 40th Ave, and Route 9 providing bidirectional service on 3rd St, 1st St, and Washington Ave. At 40th Ave and Washington Ave, buses running as the outbound Route 9 will become the inbound Route 7, and vice versa.

Route 10
While Route 10 is part of the Yakima Transit network, the funding and design is the responsibility of the City of Selah. (Yakima Transit operates it for Selah under a contract.) Therefore, this proposal will have no changes for Route 10.

Route 11 (Not Shown)
As previously covered here, Route 11, or the Yakima-Ellensburg Commuter, has been running since November 2011. With funding and planning coming from a multitude of agencies, this plan assumes no changes will be made to Route 11.

Route 12 (New Route)
Back in September 2009, Yakima Transit started a one-year trial service to the Terrace Heights area east of Yakima. The service didn’t continue past that first year however, as Yakima County was unwilling to help subsidize the service. When Yakima Transit ran service to Terrace Heights, they revised Route 6 and extended it out to a loop on Keys Rd, University Pkwy, and Terrace Heights Dr, creating an even bigger mess than the current iteration. With Route 6 now again changed in this proposal, there becomes a need to restore service to the commercial area east of I-82. Instead of just running a shuttle to/from the area, it seems worthwhile to explore restoring service to the Terrace Heights area. This of course would require financial support from Yakima County. If it were feasible, the route would provide bidirectional service on Terrace Heights Dr, Keys Rd, and University Pkwy, with a turnback loop on 41st St, Maple Ave, Sycamore Dr, 57th St, Roza Hill Dr, Canyon Rd, and Terrace Heights Dr. A deviation to the commercial area east of I-82 would be kept as well, with bidirectional service on 17th St, Chalmers Rd, Riverside St, and 18th St. (This proposal also assumes that if support from Yakima County didn’t materialize, then Route 12 would not exist and Route 6 would remain unchanged.)

Yakima Transit Center
In the 2013 Transit Development Plan, Yakima Transit officials indicated that they are looking at moving the transit center in Downtown Yakima from the current location on 4th St between Chestnut Ave and Walnut St to Front St between Yakima Ave and Chestnut Ave. If this plan did come to fruition, the proposal to restructure the routes would be adjusted accordingly.

Public Works Transit Center
While four routes (3/4/7/9) currently serve this transit center, located next to Yakima’s Public Works yard, none of the routes are coordinated to make a timed transfer. While this still wouldn’t be a possibility in this proposal, effort would be made to simplify the schedules to keep the time spread between bus arrivals/departures consistent and easy to remember. Note also that this would function as a layover point for buses on Routes 3 and 4, which as previously mentioned interline here.

Valley Mall Transfer Point
After a WSDOT project to add roundabouts at the Valley Mall Blvd/I-82 Interchange, a new bus pullout just north of Valley Mall Blvd and Main St was also added. Currently Routes 7 and 9 use the stop, but in this proposal it would be used as a stop for Route 9 (running bidirectional service as previously mentioned) and a layover point for Route 6. Like Public Works Transit Center, timed transfers would not be possible but effort would be made to simplify the schedules to keep the time spread between bus arrivals/departures consistent and easy to remember.

(This is a proposal, and does not represent any official plan from Yakima Transit.)
(Se trata de una propuesta, y no representa ningún plan oficial de Yakima Transit.)

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