Financial stress definitely has the City of Yakima thinking about other options to keep commuter bus service from Ellensburg to Yakima up and running.
YAKIMA, WA - Financial stress definitely has the City of Yakima thinking about other options to keep commuter bus service from Ellensburg to Yakima up and running.
But the city never predicted the bus line's current non-profit operator would pull out of its contract.
"It was unfortunate that we got news this week that HopeSource, the operator just bailed out on us because that was unexpected," said Yakima City Manager Tony O'Rourke.
HopeSource released a statement saying "The Yakima City Manager made it clear that Yakima has decided to contract with a private for profit entity.... We have submitted a letter of severance to Yakima Transit effective June 15, 2014."
O'Rourke said there was never a discussion to immediately change operators.
"Their contract was supposed to take this to June of 2015, and at that time we were going to look at potential private operators," said O'Rourke. "Not before then. So to use the excuse that they were going to be pushed out by a private operator simply wasn't true."
O'Rourke said a short term solution is to find another non-profit operator so commuters like Rachel Hayes, who rely on the bus service can still get to Ellensburg and back.
"I'm married, and we only have the one car that we usually use," said Hayes.
O'Rourke said the city currently pays about $90,000 to keep the bus line running.
Besides contracting with a private operator, who say they can provide bus services at a lower cost and better equipment, the city is looking at other ways to keep the bus line running. This includes upping the fares by a dollar and making fewer runs.