Solving the Bus Problem

Rachel Hayes is a first year Central Washington University student.

She lives in Toppenish with her husband, but uses the commuter bus in selah to travel to Ellensburg.

"We decided to stay in Toppenish, with the bus, it gave me an opportunity to still go to school," said Hayes.

Right now, the Yakima-Ellensburg Commuter is funded by state grants and funds allocated by Yakima, Selah, and CWU.

However, those funds aren't proving to be enough.

The City of Yakima is  now looking at multiple options, including increasing the cost of fares and monthly passes, and reducing the number of trips back and forth -- at one point, the city even considered eliminating the whole bus line completely, that didn't seem like a viable option; with about 200 unique riders relying on it daily.

The city is also looking at contracting with a private organization in the future to run the bus system, at a lower cost -- saving more money for maintenance.

"That's been the achilles heel of the service; buses are breaking down and costing a lot to repair," said Yakima City Manager Tony O'Rourke, "We need more reliable, newer equipment, they have it, we don't, that would be a benefit."

The potential of private contractors prompted the current organization, HopeSource to end their agreement with the city, a year before it was supposed to end.

In a release put out by HopeSource, the organization states it will stop running the commuter buses by the middle of June -- giving city administrators a little over two months to find a temporary replacement.

City Manager Tony O'Rourke says once a fill-in is found, the city will begin searching for a permanent replacement -- he says riders will not have to worry about services ending, but should expect a minor increase in fare prices, such as a $1 on one way passes.

"You're saving money by not having to drive ourselves, and saving the wear and tear on your car," said Hayes.