What had been pushed to the community as a major service expansion appears to me to be a significant service cut.
What the consultants were working off of (the BFT Board Visioning Retreat)
From my perspective, the main issues with the Ben Franklin Transit Comprehensive Service Plan proposal as a service restructure are thus:
1. It appears to have been developed by individuals who did not actually ride the system in service. The plan is in effect unimplementable.
2. The system shifts from a neighborhood focus to a regional focus, something that may seem workable to someone who isn’t transit-dependent, but in how the Tri-Cities is laid out will not work as proposed. It is applied in a manner which will in my educated opinion result in a ridership death spiral. It will result in dramatically increased service costs as recovery time will be far too elastic to schedule to a pulse. There is needless duplication. Nobody will trade a one-seat ride for inaccessibility to regional cultural attractions such as Columbia Park and The Reach. There is no night service to Columbia Center or Queensgate.
3. 15 minute corridors have multiple route numbers assigned to them. This makes it less apparent that there’s frequent service in that corridor. Take the SR240 causeway between I-82 and Columbia Park Trail as an example. Rather than using a single route number for this route, the consultants propose extending a local route in Richland (the 26) to augment the 120. This won’t end well as rush hour traffic would hopelessly ensnare the 26 and significantly deteriorate service. This also confuses the existing ridership and does not give the perception of frequent service to a visitor. Further, in Kennewick on Clearwater Avenue, there is another 15 minute corridor except in this case it is only 15 minutes Monday through Friday. Saturday Service will be split between two routes each running on 60 minute intervals. In other words the 150 will run every 30 minutes Monday through Friday, though only every 60 minutes on Saturdays. The 160 would be operated the same way. The existing ridership would understand this to be a significant service cut.
4. This may just be an innocent oversight, however the plan mentions 7 day service on the summary page, though only discusses Monday-Saturday service on the route proposals.
5. Nothing beyond a cryptic answer of “Taxi Feeder” is given for how service will be provided to those areas which lose service. This is a very costly solution which may not be workable or safe. The existing contractor is deficient in their provision of service, to which BFT is not responsive to substantially deal with.