Central Transit bus

A Central Transit bus picks up passengers at the corner of Water Street and 14th Avenue in Ellensburg on Wednesday. (Brian Myrick / Daily Record)

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The new, revamped Central Transit has expanded routes around town in an attempt to turn the service, which started years ago as a commuter bus for students around Central Washington University, into a real city public transit system.

Where the route used to hug campus in the north and run tight through downtown in the south, the new route will reach more people, according to organizers.

“It’s now moving to a true public transit system,” Ellensburg Mayor Bruce Tabb said. “We’re hoping to see people use it to get to and from work and to all the activities in the community.”

The social services organization HopeSource operates the service in conjunction with the city of Ellensburg and CWU, funded through a $400,000 state grant, $150,000 from CWU and $50,000 from the city, all for a two-year span.

Two buses

On the weekdays, two buses run opposite directions on the route, reaching each stop about every 30 minutes from 7 a.m to 9:30 p.m., depending on the route direction.

“This is really the first time we’ve been able to provide service from morning until night,” Tabb said. “It’s a huge step forward for public transit in the city.”

One bus runs, going counter-clockwise, on weekends. The Saturday bus runs from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and the Sunday bus from 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The routes have changed as well.

The wider, looping route circles town and goes by new stops by the Bright Beginnings child-care center and the courthouse, as well as old stops like CWU’s Student Union and Recreation Center and KVH Hospital.

“This route is configured in such a manner that it puts public transit accessible within a quarter mile of somewhere over 80 percent of the city population,” HopeSource transit manager Bob Richey said.

The route changes came as part of recommendations from a transportation consulting firm hired by the city, after nearly two years of research and polling.

The service is still free to ride, but donations are accepted on the bus, Richey said.

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