Ben Franklin Transit (BFT) is a municipal corporation, which provides public transportation services in a 618 square mile area located in Benton and Franklin Counties. The area includes the cities of Kennewick, Pasco, Richland, West Richland, Benton City, Prosser and certain unincorporated areas of Benton and Franklin County. The service area contains a population of approximately 228,992 residents.
BFT was formed May 11, 1981, when the voters in the service area voted to levy a 0.3 percent sales tax to support public transit with a 64% majority.
The Dial-A-Ride system was started January 1, 1982, by contract with the Benton Franklin Developmental Center. BFT assumed the operation of the Dial-A-Ride system January 1, 1985.
The Vanpool service was initiated in September of 1982, under a contract with the Benton-Franklin Council of Governments. BFT took over Vanpool operations on January 1, 1984.
On November 4, 1997 the voters of Benton City and Prosser elected to be annexed to the Benton Franklin Public Transportation Benefit Area (PTBA), with a 62% majority. Service was contracted with the City of Prosser to provide service to the communities of Prosser and Benton City using their Prosser Rural Transit system. In January 1999, BFT took over the Prosser and Benton City Operations.
On May 15, 2001 a sales tax proposition of 3/10 of one percent was voted on. It was narrowly defeated by one hundred and sixty-nine (169) votes. As a result, 10 commuter express routes and all taxi-feeder rides were eliminated. There was also reduction in mid-day service on seventeen routes and a 60% cut in night service during 2001.
On March 12, 2002 the voters of Benton and Franklin Counties approved the sales tax proposition of 3/10 of one percent. Voting statistics by county are as follows: Franklin County–53.5% and Benton County–56.28%.
On April 26, 2005 the voters of Finley elected to be annexed to the Benton Franklin Public Transportation Benefit Area (BFT), with a 65.12% majority vote.
During the summer of 2021, two note-worthy additions were made to BFT service. In June, the agency launched new METRO routes (also known as frequent service corridor routes). METRO routes offer service across Pasco, Kennewick, Richland, and West Richland every fifteen minutes. In August, fixed route buses, Dial-A-Ride and BFT CONNECT all began offering service on Sundays for the first time in BFT history.
BFT’s operation is accounted for under a single enterprise fund, which uses the same accrual accounting method as private enterprise. Under revenue recognition and matching principles of the accrual accounting method, revenues are recorded when earned, and expenses are recorded as soon as they result in liabilities for benefits provided.
FACTORS AFFECTING FINANCIAL CONDITIONS
BFT’s main source of revenue is sales tax, which also serves as an economic barometer.