GTA keeps weekend service

Has funds to run through June

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EPHRATA — Grant Transit Authority (GTA) decided to keep weekend service after several riders commented they use the bus to get to work.

The authority reversed previous plans to eliminate the service after holding four public meetings and receiving phone calls and e-mails expressing concern about the cuts, Transit Operations Supervisor Brandy Heston said.

The cuts were part of a larger plan to deal with a $300,000 deficit in the budget because of rising costs and a drop in sales tax revenue, she said in a February interview. The transit authority did not expect to see an increase in the sales tax.

GTA does have enough money to run the weekend service until June, Heston said, adding it plans to seek additional funding to keep the service running.

The majority of riders use the service to travel to their jobs at ConAgra in Quincy and Warden, and Washington Potato in Warden.

“Hopefully the processing plants will be able to assist in some way. People are using the service to get to and from their employment,” she said. “We have very limited service on the weekend.”

Other changes to increase revenue and decrease costs went into effect. The changes include a 50-cent fare increase for adults and students and a 25-cent fare increase for seniors and disabled people. The transit authority eliminated some runs of Route 50 in Moses Lake and replaced the fixed routes to Mattawa and Wilson Creek with dial-a-ride service. They combined routes 51 and 52, which travel through the Moses Lake area.

Heston said the authority doesn’t expect to know what effect the decision has had for several months.

“We won’t get the tallies for April until mid-month in May,” she said. “It will take several months to get an accurate picture of ridership as well as what the fare increase did to ridership.”

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