April 12, 2024
CONTACT: Natalie Lubsen,, (703)-217-8062

Ben Franklin Transit Board votes unanimously to table a funding cut ballot measure until 2026

Facing public pressure, the BFT Board has once again voted to postpone deciding on a proposal that would drastically reduce the agency’s revenue

(TRI-CITIES, WA) At their meeting last night, the Ben Franklin Transit Board of Directors voted unanimously to table until 2026 a proposed ballot initiative to cut the agency’s funding. Agency staff gave a presentation showing that if the ballot initiative were to pass this November, it would slash transit funding by up to $200 million and cut services for residents of the Tri-Cities region. The agency would have lost an estimated $130 million in sales tax revenue by 2037, and been disqualified from receiving $70 million in state-level Transit Support Grant funding, which is already at risk from the potential repeal of the Climate Commitment Act.

Some members of the Board have repeatedly proposed funding cuts since 2021, and the Board last voted to “indefinitely postpone” its decision in July 2022. In response to these efforts, there has been a years-long grassroots campaign, led by Tri-Cities community members and local organizations representing business, education, labor, public health, social justice, and the environment, and supported by Transportation Choices Coalition.

Kirk Hovenkotter, Executive Director at Transportation Choices Coalition, issued the following statement: 

“Since 2021, hundreds of people have made public comments and sent thousands of letters to Board members to speak out against harmful and unnecessary cuts to transit and paratransit service. We are grateful for these champions and for the Board making the right call. We’re not going anywhere — and neither is the coalition of people and organizations who have fought tirelessly to keep buses running for everyone in the Tri-Cities region who depends on Ben Franklin Transit to get where they need to go. We look forward to working with the BFT Board and staff to deliver the transit service that riders in the Tri-Cities deserve.” 

Russell Shjerven, the Secretary-Treasurer for the Teamsters Local Union No. 839, said the board’s decision means job security for hundreds of workers plus millions in state funding for Tri-Cities transit:

“Teamsters Local 839 is happy that the BFT Board has decided to not only maintain its current funding stream but has the wisdom to position itself to receive an additional $70 million over the next thirteen years to keep our Local Transit Authority solvent into the future. This is a big victory for the community, the citizens of Benton and Franklin counties who rely on the paratransit system, and the 300 Teamsters members who will not be facing layoffs.”

Jaime Torres of Kennewick, who organizes with Empower Movement WA and is a regular BFT rider, said the Board’s decision is a relief to those who need the services the most:

“Ben Franklin Transit has been providing a valuable service to those in need for many years. They have been transporting non-drivers and disabled individuals — individuals who won’t have any other means of getting around their community if services are discontinued. I’m grateful the Board heard us last night. We’ll keep showing up to make sure they hear us in the future.”


Transportation Choices Coalition is a policy and advocacy nonprofit dedicated to making safe, equitable, and sustainable transportation accessible to all in Washington State. We champion policies that support more transit, bike, and pedestrian improvements at the state, regional, and local levels.

Zip/Postal Code: