Grays Harbor Transit hosts “Rider Appreciation Day” August 13th

The Grays Harbor Transit Authority is inviting everyone to their first “Rider Appreciation Day” at the Aberdeen Transit Station from 6:00 a.m. to noon on August 13th. Staff will be handing out refreshments and information to riders.

Grays Harbor Transit rider appreciation day 2014

Grays Harbor Transit among 18 awarded $5.2M in federal grants to improve transit services

More than $5.2 million in newly awarded federal grants for new buses and facility improvements means service improvements are coming to 18 public transportation providers in Washington.

The Washington State Department of Transportation this week announced the Federal Transit Administration grant recipients, each of which will use the funds to purchase or refurbish buses, equipment or transit facilities. The grants leverage $3.5 million in local matching funds from local transit agencies, a testament to WSDOT’s ongoing partnerships with public transportation providers.

Some of the grant recipients (full list below) include:

  • Community Transit in Snohomish County, which will use a $1.7 million grant to help replace two of its signature double-deckers.
  • Island Transit, which will replace five buses with its grant award of more than $677,570.
  • Valley Transit in Walla Walla, which will replace two of its buses with new ones fueled by compressed natural gas.

WSDOT’s Public Transportation Division administers annual and biennial state and federal grant awards for transit agencies and other service providers across the state. But this was WSDOT’s first opportunity to award grant funding from FTA’s new Bus and Bus Facilities Program – Section 5339 of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century – MAP-21 – Act.

The federal program divided $65.5 among the 50 states, with a requirement of 20 percent local matching funds. WSDOT selected the grant recipients based on the federal program guidelines that recipients are public agencies or private nonprofit organizations that provide fixed-route bus service and special transportation services for people whose options are limited due to their age, income or disability.



MAP-21 Bus and Bus Facilities Program grants awarded in Washington

Small Urban Grant Awards
Community Transit $1.37 million Replace 2 double-decker buses
Intercity Transit $400,000 Replace fuel storage tanks
Kitsap Transit $308,899 Refurbish facility roof and heating/AC
Kitsap Transit $208,874 Replace 3 vehicle lifts
Link $115,873 Passenger shelters, seating, bike amenities
Skagit Transit $191,502 2 additional light-duty buses
Valley Transit $112,000 Replace 2 compressed natural gas-fueled buses
Yakima Transit $400,000 Replace 3 buses for city service

Rural Grant Awards

HopeSource $108,800 Replace 2 medium-duty buses
Island Transit $677,570 Replace 5 buses
Garfield County Transportation $48,000 Replace 1 medium-duty bus
Grant Transit $72,000 1 light-duty bus
Grays Harbor Transit $384,000 1 (35-foot) coach, 1 medium-duty bus
Mason Transit $178,680 Refurbish facility roof
Okanogan County Transit Authority $390,402 3 light-duty buses
Pullman Transit $264,000 2 (40-foot) hybrid-electric buses
Skamania County Senior Services $10,400 Refurbish reserve bus
Spokane Tribe of Indians $59,136 Replace 1 medium-duty bus
Twin Transit $297,840 Replace 2 medium-duty buses

 

Grays Harbor Transit denies bus ads against crude-by-rail

Grays Harbor Transit will not weigh in on the crude by rail debate. Citing their current policy on political ads, the Transit Authority Board last night declined to authorize a request  made by Aberdeen resident Tori Kovach to advertise on their buses.
Grays Harbor Transit denies Crude by Rail adsAs a member of the Grays Harbor Coalition for Infrastructure, Transit Board member Frank Gordon recused himself citing a conflict of interest. The County Commissioner then offered this opinion “We are so poor, we’re poorer than church mice and church mice can’t turn down the cheese. So we have a chance to make some money on the ads on this bus – just a thought.”
With two other absences on the board last night Westport Mayor Michael Bruce, County Commissioner Wes Cormier, and Aberdeen Mayor Bill Simpson did not have a quorum to authorize the ads. Gordon said to me during the meeting “so you can put down there was a bunch of old fogies on the transit board, [that] did nothing.
The four ads requested are editorial cartoons drawn by the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Steve Sack, all spoke out against crude by rail.

Hanford Whistleblower settles into Union President position at Grays Harbor Transit

The Grays Harbor Transit Authority last week met their new Union President, Hanford whistleblower Ed Bricker introduced himself at their regular meeting. Bricker became one of the  nuclear industry’s first whistle-blowers in the 1980’s when he worked with Congress to expose health hazards at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, a federal facility in Eastern Washington that processed plutonium for the Department of Energy(DOE) at the time.
Ed Bricker“I did tell a story when I was set apart as Union President where Abe Lincoln was walking down the street with two balling boys under both arms. Somebody yelled out ‘what’s the problem Abe?’ and he yelled back ‘same old problem since time began; two boys and one piece of candy’ and sometimes it’s the same thing with running a transit company or running a union.
Now Union President for the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1765, Bricker added “I’ve seen both sides of labor and management, and I’ve heard lots of good things about what you guys do down here.”
General Manager Mark Carlin welcomed Bricker, also taking a moment to commend former president Karen Stites and the Union as a whole for their agreement to a wage freeze in the coming year “I know that the Transit Board over the summer was looking for the Union members to “buy in” and do something financial to help out our situation, and I feel that they have really stepped up.”
The Transit Authority last year made drastic cuts to stay in the black, including dropping weekend bus service throughout the county.

Former councilman wins posthumously, Transit tax finishes with over 70% support

MONTESANO, Wash. – With results certified at the county auditor’s office, Voter turnout for Grays Harbor finished at 48.35% for the November General Election.
In Aberdeen, Incumbent city councilman John Smith trails to Tawni Andrews by 9 votes, while incumbent Alice Phelps leads over Roberta Myers by 42. The memory of John Erak holds 26 more votes than appointed incumbent Alan Richrod. Aberdeen Mayor Bill Simpson explained to council this week “The fifth ward will have a vacancy, we will take letters from candidates, and on the December 11th council meeting we will have interviews and vote that night.
On the Hoquiam side, Richard Pennant leads by 8 votes over incumbent council John Weidl and Denise Anderson leads by 44 votes over incumbent Brenda Carlstrom.
Incumbent Port Commissioner Chuck Caldwell finished with over %70 of the vote, as did a vote to support the Grays Harbor Transit Authority with a sales tax increase.
Election results are available online at http://vote.wa.gov/results/current/graysharbor/

Grays Harbor Transit to offer free bus service for holiday shopping

ABERDEEN, Wash. – Grays Harbor Transit will offer free bus service for holiday shoppers again this year, the Authority’s board approved the schedule this week. Board President Jack Durney supported the service. “This is the time of year that helps a lot of businesses make it into the next year, and some of our revenue comes from sales tax so it looks like a good way to prime the pump.”
The Grays Harbor Transit Authority will offer free rides anywhere in Grays Harbor from December 18th through the 24th, However unlike previous years, the busses no longer run on weekends and will not be running on that weekend either.
General Manager Mark Carlin told the board at their last meeting that the lost revenue from offering the ‘free rides’ would be about $5,000 (mostly in quarters).

Last weekend of service for Grays Harbor Transit, new schedule September 2

ABERDEEN, Wash. – Big changes on the bus take effect next Monday, and this is the last weekend of service from Grays Harbor Transit. Effective September 2nd, the main line is eliminating weekends, holidays, transfers, and the route to Centralia, but keeping the College Sticker Program for students.

General Manager Mark Carlin told the Transit Authority last month that the cuts will correct an $800-thousand budget deficit “We just feel that eliminating weekends will affect the least amount of customers.”

The transit will as the public for a .01% sales tax increase on the November countywide ballot. Carlin says if it passes it will return them to a state-approved budget. He hoped to see a return to weekend service by 2015.

Grays Harbor Transit cuts weekend service

HOQUIAM, Wash. – Grays Harbor Transit will be cutting weekend service, and asking the public for a .01% sales tax increase to correct an $800-thousand budget deficit. “The option entails laying off 8 employees.” General Manager Mark Carlin told the Transit Authority at a special meeting last night, the option uprights an $80-thousand monthly deficit when the changes go into effect September third. “We just feel that eliminating weekends will affect the least amount of customers.
Four full time runs will be removed, as well as service to Centralia and eight hours of SVS service Monday through Friday. Employees include six drivers, one maintenance person and one part time customer service person.

The Authority last night also adopted a resolution that places a request on the November countywide ballot, asking for a .01% sales tax increase. Carlin says if it passes it will return them to a state-approved budget. He hoped to see a return to weekend service by 2015.

Cameras, Cameras, Everywhere And All The Boards Did Think

Transit
The Grays Harbor Transit Authority discussed security measures this week. Board member, and County Commissioner Mike Wilson said “Rick Scott [had a vendor] show him how their program works. So they took him to one of the malls and said ‘pick a car out, out there’ so Scott said he picked a car way off in the distance and they were able to zoom all the way in to the license plate.”
Commissioner Terry Willis said the county has seen quotes averaging $3,000 per camera, depending on features.

Municipal

Cosmopolis just turned on the new security camera in their municipal court, and will have a bailif beginning today. Mayor Vickie Raines tells us cameras are at the Cosi court and police station, and have been ordered for city hall, Mill Creek and Lions Club Park.

Aberdeen Mayor Bill Simpson said his staff has been meeting frequently to determine their security needs.

Hoquiam demonstrated their new camera system to council on Monday night in the Municipal court. Mayor Durney said the city has 8 or 9 cameras throughout the city, and hopes to replace the system at their police station soon.