WENATCHEE — Link Transit is looking to expand. New buses. Expanded routes. Longer hours. More days.
To get there, the bus service is asking voters to pay more in sales taxes.
Link’s proposal to raise sales and use taxes by two-tenths of 1 percent will be up for vote on the Aug. 6 ballot for residents in its service area. The vote requires a simple majority to pass.
Link serves the Wenatchee Valley and Chelan and Douglas counties, broadly speaking, from Malaga to Leavenworth, and from Rock Island to Waterville, Ardenvoir and Manson. Last year, Link provided more than a million rides for the fifth straight year.
In 2017, Link surveyed riders and residents, asking what they’d like to see added. What they heard from the 4,000 respondents was longer hours, Sunday services and better access to job sites, like agricultural employers.
Link officials estimate they’d need an additional $5.5 million a year to cover those costs. The two-tenths tax hike would produce about $6 million in revenue for Link at a cost of roughly $24 a year for the average household.
If the measure passes, Link would phase the new money into its budget in halves: the first tenth in January 2020 and the second tenth in January 2022.
In 2020, Link would extend its hours on major routes, add more services for disabled riders and increase Saturday services to Chelan, Leavenworth, Cashmere, Rock Island, Entiat, Wenatchee and East Wenatchee.
In 2021, Link would again extend its hours on major routes, add Saturday service to Waterville, Rock Island and Malaga, add Sunday services for the first time, extend its hours, as well as a few other additions.
And then in 2022, with the second surge of funding, Link would, among other items, add new buses, increase frequency on major routes, and install new bus stops in Peshastin and Hay Canyon.