FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Ali Madison | firstname.lastname@example.org | 509.571.0711
Ben Franklin Transit to reduce regular routes, introduce two temporary routes in Pasco, effective April 13
Agency takes additional steps to balance service delivery with staffing during COVID-19
RICHLAND, Wash. – Beginning April 13, 2020 and until further notice, Ben Franklin Transit (BFT) will suspend five regular bus routes in Pasco and replace them with two new interim routes as the agency continuously works to maintain a balance between maximizing connectivity to essential services, adjusting for significantly decreased demand in response to Governor Jay Inslee’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order, and managing fluid changes in staffing availability.
The following bus routes will be suspended effective Monday, April 13, 2020:
- Route 64
- Route 65
- Route 66
- Route 67
- Route 268
The following new bus routes will begin on Monday, April 13, 2020 on a temporary basis to maintain accessibility to essential services:
- Route 61E. This route will replace Routes 64 and 65, and provide one-way service departing 22nd Avenue Transit Center along Route 64 and continuing to Tierra Vida before returning along Route 65 to 22nd Avenue Transit Center. It will run every 25 minutes or less Monday through Saturday until further notice.
- Route 69E. This route will combine and replace Routes 66 and 67 and provide westbound service on Sylvester Street and eastbound service on Court Street. It will run every 60 minutes on weekdays until further notice.
Customers who normally ride Routes 64, 65, 66, or 67 can visit www.bft.org/Services/Route-61-69-E/ to see maps and schedules for Routes 61E and 69E, and which stops they can use to access the new routes.
Impacts in West Pasco:
- There will be no bus service available in West Pasco south of I-182 and west of Road 68 because of these changes. BFT is working to implement an on-demand service to address this coverage gap in the near future.
“BFT remains committed to protecting our employees while serving members of our community in need of essential transportation services during this time,” said BFT general manager Gloria Boyce. “We have been carefully monitoring ridership and staffing and have reached a point where additional changes are necessary and prudent.“
The routes being suspended in Pasco have limited connectivity to essential businesses, significantly focus on service to schools which are not in operation, and have recently been experiencing very low ridership. The goal of the two temporary replacement routes is to continue providing as much bus network coverage as possible, while prioritizing route connectivity to essential services.
In addition, BFT had been planning to implement a new on-demand service designed to help customers connect to the bus system in April, prior to the pandemic declaration and the Governor’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order. Though the launch for this service, to be named BFT CONNECT, was initially delayed, BFT is now working with its contracted partner to explore implementation in the near future to help maintain service coverage and flexibility during ongoing emergency response conditions and beyond.
BFT will continue to provide regular service on all other bus routes at this time and will notify customers via Facebook and Twitter, on its website at www.bft.org/Covid-19, and by other means as appropriate of any further changes in service.
For the most up-to-date bus schedules we recommend that riders download and use the Transit app, or check MyRide.BFT.org. Phone support is also available Mon-Fri 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sat 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. at 509.735.5100.
To protect our passengers and drivers, BFT is continuing daily disinfection procedures in all our vehicles and facilities and continuing all implemented social distancing measures, including no fare collection and rear-door bus entry until further notice. Our top priorities are to continue essential service and to keep our employees and customers healthy and safe.
Reminders for Riders:
- IF YOU ARE NOT FEELING WELL, DO NOT TAKE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION. Call your healthcare provider before you leave your home and follow their guidance.
- At this time, public transportation should only be used for ESSENTIAL TRIPS, including for food/grocery needs, medical appointments, pharmacy, and work.
BFT will continue to monitor COVID-19-related developments and take appropriate action using guidance from public health authorities.