Columbia County Public Transportation van driving on a road. Behind the vehicle there is an orange and yellow sky at sunset.

Two years into Move Ahead Washington, communities from Palouse to the Peninsula are benefiting from unprecedented investments in transit and active transportation. Our Move Ahead story series highlights the successes and positive impacts we have heard from agencies and riders across the state.

Youth Ridership is Strong In Columbia County

In Eastern Washington, Columbia County Public Transportation made its system fare-free for all riders thanks to Move Ahead Washington. David Ocampo, Columbia County Public Transportation CEO, says that running a no-fare system has allowed riders to experience a new level of accessibility and freedom. These days, you will often find their largest bus entirely full!

Columbia County is now at around 97% of its pre-COVID ridership numbers. Compared to a national average of 60%, this figure highlights that public transportation in Columbia County is an incredible community service and that access matters.

Going fare-free has brought notable benefits for young riders. Columbia County has seen a boost in ridership: over 34% of riders are 18 and under, compared to 27% pre-pandemic. David believes that the spike in youth ridership, and the way young people are riding between transit agencies, can be attributed to the consistency of Youth Ride Free across the state. Teenagers in Columbia County use transit to move not only through their neighborhoods, but to neighboring Walla Walla for fun trips with family and friends. 

Move Ahead Washington increased transit access for nearly 1.5 million Washingtonians because of its Youth Ride Free requirement. This new generation of transit riders can unlock transit’s potential in reaching climate, equity, and safety goals across the state. Two years into Youth Ride Free, agencies across the state are seeing young people account for approximately 25% of overall ridership. 

Move Ahead Washington and the Climate Commitment Act

Move Ahead Washington is a transportation funding package that provides historic levels of investment in transit and active transportation across the state. The legislation dedicated more than $4 billion to support mobility across the state. Move Ahead Washington is largely funded by the Climate Commitment Act (CCA). The CCA is a cap-and-trade program that targets the state’s largest emitters and then invests that revenue into critical climate projects, including clean transportation projects. It’s also under threat of repeal by Initiative 2117.

Map of Washington state. Small icons dot the image of the state to indicate where Climate Commitment Act projects are across the state.

The Climate Commitment Act funds many projects across the state. Check out what is happening in your area!

Take Action to Protect These Investments

We must continue to invest in transit access. The funding for Move Ahead Washington is under attack from Initiative 2117, which would cut billions of dollars from our state’s transportation budget. We urge you to show your support for projects like the Transit Access Fund by pledging to vote NO on I-2117.

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