Policy center issues study on Ben Franklin Transit

RICHLAND, Wash. -- The Washington Policy Center and they released a report about Ben Franklin Transit.

Inside, it discussed everything from the transit organizations operating procedures with their buses and vans to how much employees are paid. For example the center says employee wages have increased 120 percent from 1996 to 2009. BFT disputes that number, they say the increases took place because of cost of living wages, gas prices and unions, but the number wasn't that high.

The center also says BFT should reduce or eliminate certain bus routes and invest more time in their van pool program.

"Ben Franklin Transit has an enormously successful van pool system that has increased in ridership. It doesn't cost tax payers a lot to operate in fact it only cost about a quarter per passenger to operate. The bus service in Ben Franklin Transit is a different story,"says Chris Cargill of the Washington Policy Center.

Kathy McMullen says the policy's report doesn't accurately reflect what the agency is doing,"our fixed route bus system and our van pool serve very different populations. I think it's not really apples to oranges."

McMullen adds van pool riders or their employers pay a lot more than other riders relying on regular bus routes.

Some of the changes the policy center recommends are happening. Because of low ridership, in the fall, BFT will combine two routes in Richland the 20 and 24 into one, the 25.

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