Efficient public transportation
Valley Transit is a municipal corporation that provides public transit services in Walla Walla County, Washington. It was established in 1979 as a PTBA (Public Transit Benefit Area), encompassing the two school districts in the neighboring cities of College Place and Walla Walla. In 1980, a 0.3 percent sales tax was approved by voters to fund the system, which was matched by the State’s Motor Vehicle Excise Tax (MVET), allowing Valley Transit to begin operations in 1981. In 2000, Initiative 695 repealed the MVET and cut funding for Valley Transit by roughly 53 percent of its operational funding at that time. However, it continued to operate with minimal service cuts for another nine years despite this loss. In 2009, lost MVET funding, paired with a rapid downturn in the economy, led Valley Transit to the choice between cutting services or pursuing additional funding. It chose to pursue a ballot measure for an additional 0.3 percent in sales tax funding, which was approved by the public by a margin of 76 percent, bringing Valley Transit back to its original funding level. This remains the highest approval rating for any local transit funding tax in the state of Washington.
Currently, the total 0.6 percent sales tax accounts for about 80 percent of the agency’s budget; fares account for 4 percent; and the rest is made up with state and federal funding. Valley Transit has 55 employees, including drivers, inhouse maintenance, and administrative staff. Recently, Business View Magazine spoke with Angie Peters, Valley Transit’s General Manager, to find out more about the agency’s operations and its future plans. The following is an edited transcript of that conversation.
BVM: Can you talk about Valley Transit’s different services?
Peters: “We operate Fixed Route, Paratransit/ Dial-a-Ride, Job Access, Van Pool, and Plus services. Our fixed Route runs 9 lines with 11 buses with our Main Line running four buses on it to maintain a 30-minute pulse from the transfer center in downtown Walla Walla. That is a fairly high frequency for an area with just over 50,000 people in it. We also have bike racks on all of our trolleys to encourage active lifestyles as well as using green transportation for firstmile/last-mile connections.
“Our Plus services run in the evening and on the weekends to extend service through a Deviated Fixed Route. The Plus services allow us to extend public transportation services to 14 ¾ hours a day during the week, as well as an additional 7 ½ hours on Saturday. Switching to a Deviated Fixed Route and Connector bus allows us to reduce our hourly operational cost significantly by using just three buses as opposed to eleven. . .
Read the full article here
Source: Business View Magazine (April, 2020)