by Richard Uhlhorn
Richard DeRock, LINK’s administrator, gave the Chelan City Council an update on Link Transit operations.
The big news from DeRock is that there will be a new proposal on the ballot in August to raise Link’s share of sales tax up to increase the service it currently provides.
The 2019 revenue projections have 76 percent of Link’s revenues coming from Sales Tax with other revenues coming from Federal and State Grants (20%), Fares (3.5%) and other sources at a mere .4%.
Link serves 3,500 square miles in Chelan County with a total ridership exceeding 1 million riders for the fifth consecutive year.
DeRock stated that the service moves people over 550 miles a day or 2.2 million miles a year. “That’s 17 million passenger miles,” said DeRock. They have 600 bus stops on the system serving 10 urban centers.
In 1999, Link cut Saturday services and then brought it back. The system averages 13 riders per run and the cost per hour to run the service is 25 percent lower than the State average. “We have worked hard to keep our costs low,” said DeRock.
Link has the largest percentage of alternative fueled transit fleet in the Pacific North West. It operates 42 propane powered buses resulting in a 16 percent reduction in green house gases, 99 percent reduction of other pollutants and has a 65 percent less cost than gasoline powered buses.
It also operates 10 battery powered buses with zero emissions at 1/2 the cost of diesel. Link also has the World’s first Wireless 200Kw vehicle charger.
“We went out and asked people what they wanted,” said DeRock. “Sunday service was the major thing asked and more Saturday service.”
The cost of the system to the average household is only $24.00 per year, or $8.88 per person.
Link does plan on running a shuttle from Walmart to Lakeside this summer from July 1 to September 1.
He was asked if Link provided transit services to Pangborn Airport and he replied that they didn’t because it wasn’t cost effective. “For the most part, airports don’t generate enough business to make it work,” he said.
They are also prohibited from providing services to Mission Ridge, but do donate services to the ski area.
Over the next six years, Link plans on funding the following projects if the voters approve an increase in local sales tax by 2/10 of one percent (2%). This means for every ten-dollar retail purchase, Link Transit would receive an additional two cents in sales tax:
- Add Saturday service to all cities and towns
- Add Sunday service to all cities and towns
- Begin service earlier in the mornings
- Operate later evening servic on some routes until 12 a.m.
- Faster service between Chelan and Wenatchee
- Expand coverage to reach more areas
- Smaller buses in residential neighborhoods
- More frequent service on major arterials in urban areas
- Cost effective rural services.
PUD representatives were also on hand to discuss the PUD’s Regional Area Planning efforts and Lake Chelan Lake Levels.
Jenna Rahm told the Council that the PUD was holding a public meeting to discuss the Chelan Dam Substation plan. “We are currently looking at our own property, “she said. In addition, the PUD is looking at a Fire Hardening Project that would entail replacing wood transmission poles with steel poles. “Basically, the fire would go right through the area,” said Rahm, who added, “We would be able to turn off the power and when the fire goes through, turn it back on.”
John Wasniewski told the Council that there was a lot of information on lake levels on the PUD’s website. This year’s snow pack is only 70 percent of normal. The annual spill will be a lot less than in a normal year.
Councilman Ray Dobbs asked if the PUD would still hold its weekend for the kayakers in the Fall. Wasniewski replied that they would still hold that event.
City Council meets every second Tuesday and fourth Tuesday of the month. The public is encouraged to attend.