About Link Transit
In October of 1988 a group of Wenatchee's political and business leaders met together at the request of the Wenatchee Downtown Association to talk about the possibility of bringing public transit to the area. The response that day, to many people's surprise, was total enthusiasm! Those present talked about helping senior citizens, advancing tourism, and linking the communities together. It was the beginning step in the process of forming a public transit system.
A Special Transit Conference was held on March 14, 1989, and elected officials passed a resolution declaring the need for a two-county transit system. On November 21, 1989, after a series of public meetings, officials created a Public Transportation Benefit Area (PTBA), as authorized by Chapter 36.57A RCW. The original PTBA boundaries included all of Chelan County and the Eastmont and Waterville school districts in Douglas County.
On September 18, 1990, voters within the Public Transportation Benefit Area (PTBA) approved the sales tax increase with 54 percent of the vote. The new Chelan Douglas Public Transportation System was set-up with funding by a four-tenths of one- percent local sales tax, along with a sixty-three percent match from the Motor Vehicle Excise Tax. In 2000 Motor Vehicle Excise Tax funding was discontinued based on a state wide voter initiative that was passed in November 1999.
In 1996, the voters in Douglas County Orondo School District area voted to annex into the PTBA increasing Link's service area to 3,500 square miles.
The Chelan-Douglas PTBA (Link Transit) Board of Directors consists of twelve voting members who are local elected officials and one non-voting member who is a labor representative. Overall, the Board includes a representative from each city within our district: Wenatchee, East Wenatchee, Chelan, Entiat, Waterville, Rock Island, Leavenworth, and Cashmere; and two representatives from both Douglas County, and Chelan County. Additionally, consistent with State law, Link Transit has a non-voting board member who is a representative of the System's bus operator's union.
The Board has been committed to building and maintaining a first-class system that would make riding transit a fun experience that is accessible to all. Special attention has been given to keep Link Transit compliant with the rules and regulations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Ken Hamm was hired as the system's General Manager in March, 1990. Hamm served as Link's General Manager for ten years. In March 2000, he resigned to take a similar position with another transit district. Tom Green was hired to replace Ken Hamm as General Manager in March 2000. Green brought nearly 25 years of experience in the management and political arena. During his tenure as a Chelan County Commissioner, Green served as Link Transit's first Board Chair in 1990 and again as Chair in 1995. Green retired as General Manager in July 2002.
In 2002 the Board hired Richard DeRock as General Manager. Richard came to Wenatchee and Link Transit after managing transit services in the Los Angeles area for nineteen (19) years. He and his family enjoy the beauty and the variety of activities that our local area has to offer.
Link's current Executive Management Team includes:
Richard DeRock: General Manager
Ed Archer: Maintenance Manager
Lynn Bourton: Administrative Services Manager
Nick Covey: Finance, Grants, & Planning Manager
Howard Johnson: Operations Manager
Eric West: Marketing & Communications Officer
Maria Hansen, Board Clerk & Executive Assistant
Corporate Philosophy, Mission, and Goals
The legal name of the systems is The Chelan Douglas Public Transportation Benefit Area d.b.a. Link Transit. Link's name is symbolic of the system's mission to provide connectivity between our rural and urban communities: to provide mobility options.
The Link logo was approved in June 1991. In May 2000, the Board of Directors updated Link's name to include the word "Transit" and the system is now officially identified as Link Transit.
Link Transit's motto is "Connecting Our Communities". Link Transit's employees are motivated, energetic individuals who refer to their patrons as "guests." Link Transit's commitment to service is based on safety, courtesy, efficiency, and image. Link Transit employees are proud of the opportunity to serve the 110,000 residents living within the Chelan-Douglas Transportation Benefit Area, along with new friends and guests that visit our area every year.
Mission Statement: The mission of Link Transit is to provide safe, reliable, and cost effective public transportation services that promote citizen access to work, recreation, commerce and public services.
Services and Boardings
December 16, 1991 marked the first day of full fixed route operation. Link Transit started baseline service with 15 routes, utilizing twelve new 30-foot Orion buses. Of those baseline routes, 10 were in the Wenatchee and East Wenatchee areas; the remainder provided service to Leavenworth, Chelan, Manson, Malaga, Waterville, and Rock Island. Link Transit grew very rapidly and by 1996 it was operating 27 routes with 55 vehicles, and the System was enjoying 1.3 million passenger boardings per year.
In November, 1999, the citizens in Washington State voted to reduce the state's Motor Vehicle Excise Tax (MVET) by adopting Initiative 695. This resulted in the loss of more than $4 million to Link Transit's funding (approximately 45% of total revenues). On February 7, 2000 a 45% system-wide service reduction became effective along with the implementation of fares. Since then, over the past ten years Link Transit has rebuilt its services by focusing on efficiencies and fiscal management; utilizing its sales tax and fare revenues as well as grant funding opportunities.
Since that difficult year (2000), with care and continued focus on providing a dependable, safe, and friendly service ridership has steadily grown and increased over the years. In 2017 Link Transit's fixed route service carried about 3,449 people per day. Between its fixed route and paratransit services, Link Transit carries approximately one million passengers per year. On February 23, 2016, Link Transit reached it's 25 millionth rider. You can see the video here of the event that was held to celebrate this occasion.
A Variety of Transportation Services:
Today Link Transit provides year-round service for seventeen (17) communities in Chelan and Douglas Counties with eight (8) fixed routes, four (4) flex routes, three (3) commuter routes, a general public Dial-A-Ride (DART) service in Leavenworth, and one seasonal route to Mission Ridge Ski Area. Paratransit service for ADA eligible individuals is provided by LinkPlus with up to sixteen (16) paratransit vehicles operating on next day reservation requests.
Service is provided Monday through Friday from approximately 5:00 AM to 10:00 PM, and on Saturday from 7:30 AM until 5:30 PM. All Link Transit coach operators are trained to provide both fixed route and paratransit (LinkPlus) services.
In Chelan County, Link Transit provides rural mobility and connectivity to the upper Leavenworth Valley, through the small towns of Monitor, Cashmere, Dryden, and Peshastin traveling distances of up to 50 miles one-way.
Along the northern corridor of the Columbia River, Link serves the communities of Entiat, Ardenvoir, Lake Chelan, Chelan Falls, and Manson, traveling 50 miles one-way to Manson. In Douglas County, Link Transit provides service to the towns of Orondo, Sun Cove, and Waterville.
Along the southeastern corridor of the Columbia River service is provided to the communities of Rock Island which is located south of East Wenatchee, and to Malaga which is located southeast of Wenatchee.
Link Transit offers frequent commuter services; periodic service to its rural areas; and half-hour service in the urbanized Greater Wenatchee area operating a two-zone fare structure that is based on trip distance. A $1.00, single zone fare is charged per one-way trip within or between the urbanized Greater Wenatchee area to several small rural communities within a fifteen-mile radius. A $2.50, two-zone fare is charged per one-way trip between the Greater Wenatchee center and the rural communities of Leavenworth, Chelan/Manson, Ardenvoir, and Waterville.
Fixed route services are well utilized by people from all walks of life: those who commute to work every day, senior citizens, youth, and disabled. All fixed route buses are fully accessible with wheelchair lifts or ramps.
During the ski season, Route 40 provide service to the Mission Ridge Ski and Board Resort.
The Vehicle Maintenance Department oversees the repair and maintenance of sixty-one (61) buses providing fixed route and paratransit services, and eleven support vehicles. Annual mileage in 2016 exceeded 2.1 million miles. The Maintenance Department has been highly successful in its innovative and aggressive approaches to fleet maintenance. The industry-leading Best Practices "Closed Loop" Lubrication Management Program has brought significant reductions in Link Transit's fleet operating budget.
Link Transit also operates two battery-electric vehicles on routes in the Wenatchee and East Wenatchee area. Additionally, Link Transit has nearly 40% of its fleet using clean burning propane for its daily operations. This means that Link Transit has the highest percentage of clean, alternative fueled vehicles in Washington State.
The Board adopted 2019 Operating Budget is $15,572,096. The total Capital Budget is $18,562,095 with $8,263,060 being funded by grants and the remaining $10,299,035 coming out of the Link's Reserve Account.
Sales tax is Link Transit's major revenue source at 76% and continues to hold strong - a reflection of our solid local economy. Staff averages the sales tax collection over the past several years to determine the budget growth projection for the next budget year; the average is 5.5%. The 2019 Budget projection shows a 3% growth over the 2018 projected sales tax collections of $12,906,474 for a total of $13,293,668 for 2019.
2019 revenues from fares collected on buses and from monthly pass sales are projected to be $618,999. Grants also play a large role in Link Transit's Operating and Capital Budgets. Link Transit is a small urbanized system, which makes us eligible for federal 5307 Formula grant funds. This grant also includes incentive money called "STIC" (Small Transit-Intensive Cities) funds that are used to reward small transit systems who meet or exceed the average of six performance measures of medium-sized transit systems across the U.S. For the past two years Link Transit has recieved all six of the performance incentives for a total $1,322.963. These funds, along with the formula part of the 5307 grant will provide $3,495,851 to Link Transit in 2019.
The Spirit of Mobility:
On December 16, 2016, Link Transit celebrated the milestone of providing 25 years of transit services for our communities. Link Transit not only serves the 115,000 residents living within the PTBA, but also offers transportation to the many visitors who choose North Central Washington as a vacation or convention destination. We consider everyone that comes aboard our buses to be our "guest" and strive to assure everyone a dependable, safe, efficient and courteous ride. Welcome aboard!