‘Move Ahead Washington’ package could bring BFT millions | Messages


KENNEWICK, Washington-

A nearly $17 billion transportation package dubbed “Move Ahead Washington” is awaiting a signature from Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.

Three billion dollars of the money flow into public transport.

Ben Franklin Transit serves a 616 square mile area spanning the Tri-Cities, Finley, Benton City and Prosser.

They recorded 1,788,932 boardings across their various services last year. In 2022, boardings were originally estimated at just over 1,600,000, but BFT says their number could be higher due to rising gas prices.

Marie Cummins is Director of Marketing and Communications at Ben Franklin Transit.

“I think that in recent years all transport companies may have felt underfunded. So there’s a definite consensus that we get some of these big capital projects that have been on our to-do list for a while,” Cummins said.

They would be paid $50 million to $75 million over the course of 16 years if eligible.

To qualify for the maximum funds, they would need to implement a fare-free program for drivers under the age of 18, which would be approved by their board and submitted to the State Department by October 1 this year.

According to Cummins, students make up about 30 percent of their customers.

“In addition to implementing the Far Free program for our youth drivers, we must also maintain our current level of state tax funding. Currently, BFT is funded at 0.6 cents for the state sales tax,” Cummins said.

When they get the funding, they will focus on two main things. The first would be improving ADA accessibility for their bus stops. Second, they want to build three additional transit centers. One in the Southridge area of ​​Kennewick, one in Benton City and one in Prosser.

Local funding accounts for about 80 percent of BFT’s operating budget, and the other 20 percent comes from state funds, grants, and federal funds.

“If we can get that chunk of money, it has a huge impact on our ability to provide a good service to our driver,” Cummins said.

The governor is expected to sign the package this Friday, March 25.


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