WENATCHEE — Expanded Link Transit service on weekdays and weekends, including new Sunday service, will begin in July with funding from a local sales tax increase that went into effect this month.

Goals of the expansion, General Manager Richard DeRock said, are to:

  • Support nontraditional work shifts
  • Offer service for evening and weekend events
  • Allow for greater use by visitors and tourists
  • Make transit more relevant to more people

“The Link system, for the last 28 years, really has focused (on) Monday through Friday, 8-5 work shifts, and we do a pretty decent job of that throughout the region,” DeRock told the Wenatchee City Council on Thursday.

He added: “But about half our economy operates in the tourism or the agriculture community — which is seven days a week, 24 hours a day — and that, we didn’t do. We had no Sunday service, we had no service after 7 o’clock at night, and we had limited Saturday services.”

Voters in August passed a 0.2 percent increase to support Link. It’ll be phased in, with a 0.1 percent increase this year and another 0.1 percent increase beginning in January 2022.

DeRock said that’s estimated to bring in about $3.56 million per year — or more if the economy continues going strong.

He presented transit improvements planned for this year at Thursday’s council meeting. Link’s board must still approve the budget to include those improvements.

DeRock said expansion decisions were made after input from residents and businesses.

“You could not use us to get home from an AppleSox game,” he said. “You couldn’t go to an event at the PAC or go to the movies and use Link because we were shut down by the time anyone would come back from those events. People that are transit-dependent — and 34% of the population of our community does not have a driver’s license — did not have access to those elements.”

DeRock said the improvements will result in a 26% increase in service and 24 additional operators — most full time.

The biggest part of the budget, he said, would be LinkPlus, which transports special-needs residents unable to ride the regular bus. It’s a required service under federal law.

Here are Link’s plans for July 2020:

Weekdays

Additional service:

  • South Wenatchee, two evening trips
  • Leavenworth, two midday trips
  • Malaga, one evening trip
  • Chelan, one evening trip
  • Waterville, one morning trip

Saturdays

New service:

  • East Wenatchee, 16 trips
  • Malaga, four trips
  • Waterville, four trips

Additional service:

  • Wenatchee, 20 trips
  • Leavenworth, five trips
  • Cashmere, two trips
  • Rock Island, two trips
  • Chelan, one trip

Sundays (new)

  • Wenatchee, 40 trips, three routes
  • East Wenatchee/Wenatchee, 29 trips, two routes
  • Leavenworth, seven trips
  • Chelan/Manson, five trips

Link Plus

Additional service:

  • 40 more Saturday hours
  • 40 new Sunday hours
  • Five daily weekday hours

Bridget Mire: 665-1179

mire@wenatcheeworld.com or

on Twitter @bridget_mire