Many of us have been there — need a job so you can afford a car, but need a car to get a job.

It can be a trap that is hard to escape, especially if you live in a community with limited public transportation options.

There are many reasons to cheer the effort to establish a bus run between Cle Elum and Ellensburg, but near the top of that list is expanding employment opportunities for people.

The two-year partnership grant is a cooperative effort between HopeSource, the Kitittas County cities, businesses and the state Department of Transportation.

There has been commuter bus service between Cle Elum and Ellensburg previously. The service was well used, but it comes down to adequate financing.

The grant may be limited it time, but perhaps it during that period it can be determine if the demand and support is there.

Public transportation is traditionally thought of as an urban service — taking advantage of the density of population. While rural areas may not have the population base, the need actually may be more acute.

A person living in a rural county is more likely to be farther away from employment and business centers. Some sort of transportation system can become a life line for that person.

A Cle Elum-Ellensburg bus link opens up opportunities in housing and employment. For example, a person might find a place to the live in the Upper County and a job in Ellensburg, or vice versa. In county with a tight rental housing market, expanding the range of options is a good thing.

Senior citizens, who may be limiting or eliminating their driving, also are beneficiaries of public transit, particularly in a county with one hospital. There is medical care in the Upper County but there are services only provided in Ellensburg. Public transit can make it easier for a senior to remain in his or her home longer because they maintain needed mobility and independence.

In addition to the bottom line benefits — accessing jobs, housing and health care — there’s also the fun stuff.

Both Ellensburg and the Upper County have attractions that make for an enjoyable day out. A bus takes away a main barrier for people to experience these communities.

Even in big cities, public transportation requires public support, but the overall benefits justify the investment.

If there is increased efficiency in the labor market — connecting workers with jobs — that will raise the entire economy and thereby enhance the community. On the micro-level it can make a difference in a person’s life.

So, kudos to all involved in bringing this service to the county. Over the next two years it has the potential of making a difference in the lives of Kittitas County residents.


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