Starting in 2011, the City of Ellensburg, the Associated Students of Central Washington University (ASCWU), HopeSource, and the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) collaborated to plan, fund, and operate public transit service within Ellensburg.
A Transit Development Plan (TDP) was completed in 2013. It provided a series of recommendations to improve transit service over a projected nine-year period. Findings from a community survey and peer review were instrumental in developing service alternatives and adopting the current zero-fare policy.
The 2015 TDP evaluated the prior two academic years of the operation of Central Transit in terms of ridership, efficiency and effectiveness. The effort also compared expected outcomes of the 2013 TDP with actual operations. Ongoing coordination with the Public Transit Advisory Committee , appointed by the Ellensburg City Council, and community engagement in the form of mobile outreach and online communication were also key components of the 2015 TDP. Primary goals of the 2015 TDP Update include the development of a revised six-year plan for Central Transit (consisting of operating, capital and financial elements).
In 2015, the City of Ellensburg created a new entity, the Ellensburg Transportation Benefit District (TBD), whose purpose was to finance Ellensburg public transportation improvements. The legislature soon after amended the existing laws and these changes allowed the City to end the separate entity status of the TBD and assume the rights, powers, functions and obligations of the TBD.
The City Council at their January 19, 2016 meeting authorized a special election to be held on April 26, 2016 for a sales and use tax. The tax was to be levied in an amount of up to two-tenths of one percent for a period of not more than ten years to pay for or financing public transportation improvements. Ellensburg voters approved the levy with a 63% majority. With the TBD being absorbed by the City of Ellensburg and an assured form of funding, the City assumed operation of Central Transit on July 1, 2017.
The commitments made to the citizens of Ellensburg during the sales tax levy campaign motivated several positive changes for Central Transit. At the time of the City’s assumption, fixed route bus service expanded from two to four routes with additional stops and service hours and a true paratransit bus service for people who cannot use the fixed route service was added. A few months later, a cabulance service was added.
The Ellensburg Transit Division is constantly working to improve the service provided by Central Transit and welcomes hearing your comments and concerns.