Ben Franklin Transit Urged To Make Changes To System
According to a report released by the Washington Policy Center, a non- profit, non partisan public think tank group, Ben Franklin Transit needs to make some significant changes to it's transportation system.
The report, released in late June, shows while the Van Pool service has grown significantly, and ridership justifies growth, bus expenses have grown extensively, while bus use has dropped considerably. According to public data gathered by WPC since 1996:
- Total operating expenses for Ben Franklin Transit increased 140%
- The number of employees making more than $75,000 per year increased 60%
- Annual bus passenger trips decreased by 1.55%
- Annual bus passenger miles decreased by 16.72%
The report also shows the Van Pool program is a far more cost effective way to provide public transportation, as riders bear nearly 90% of the cost. According to the WPC report, the Van Pool program has been a positive growth area. WPC also recommends that 'under performing' or lesser used routes be eliminated, and other routes be serviced by smaller more efficient vehicles. They also recommend routes that experience peak use times be only offered during those times as a way to cut costs. They also urge that Ben Franklin Transit officials re-examine personell funding and expense areas, and re-evaluate how taxpayer money used to fund the system is used.
According to KNDU TV, A Ben Franklin Transit official said employee wages and benefits are not above the industry standard. By comparison, Olympia and Wenatchee public transit systems have 70 percent of their budgets towards wages and benefits, while in Yakima that number is around 40% of budget. BFT sees just over 61% of it's budget go towards wages and benefits.