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Published on June 21, 2024
WSDOT Seeks Public Feedback on Intercity Bus Program Expansion to Enhance Rural Connectivity in WashingtonSource: Washington State Department of Transportation

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is actively seeking public input on its Travel Washington Intercity Bus Program with the goal of enhancing service accessibility, reliability, and convenience. The program's current phase dubbed the Connecting Communities study, is focused on identifying potential areas for the expansion of intercity bus service that would efficiently bridge rural regions and the greater intercity network, with an emphasis both on cost-effectiveness and improved linkages to transportation hubs and urban centers.

To collect feedback, WSDOT has scheduled a series of online meetings catering to different geographic regions in the state. The department is eager to directly hear the voices of those who are to eventually use these services, and they believe that to successfully recalibrate, they need to openly absorb firsthand insights. The virtual gatherings are spread out through the end of June, with each meeting targeting a specific set of counties. Interested participants are asked to RSVP in order to engage in these discussions. WSDOT also provides locations for free, temporary internet access to ensure that participants without broadband service can join in.

These public consultations follow a series of already conducted in-person gatherings in Yakima and Pullman, addressing the needs of south-central and eastern Washington travelers and residents. Additionally, WSDOT encourages ongoing public participation by offering an incentivized online survey that will remain open through mid-July. This comprehensive approach to garnering statewide feedback appears to be a genuine attempt to build a more inclusive and efficient service in the wake of operational difficulties posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the most recent plan update published by WSDOT in 2019, the Travel Washington network saw significant impact due to the pandemic, with many routes operating at limited capacity or having been suspended altogether. Now, they look to not only restore service but also to explore new possibilities for service expansions. Specifically, the department aims to take a closer look at the feasibility of extending service in the Yakima Valley, along the Interstate 90 corridor, and other strategic locations throughout Washington state.

Travel Pasco Grape, WSDOT contracts with private bus operators to provide four distinctive Travel Washington bus routes—aptly named the Dungeness, Gold, Apple, and Grape lines—which serve some of the most rural areas in the state. These routes play a key role in the state’s broader intercity bus network and are funded jointly by the Federal Transit Administration and WSDOT.

For those interested in providing their input or wishing to learn more about the proposed improvements and expansion plans, they can find the schedule of upcoming online meetings and access the list of participating Drive-In WiFi Hotspots here.

Seattle-Transportation & Infrastructure