Yakima Transit’s bustling transit system has been on the go since Christmas day of 1907, when the first public rides were given on the Yakima Valley Transportation Company trolleys. By 1910, riders could go for a three hour, fourty-mile round-trip over all the trolley routes (or streetcars as they were called) for just 50 cents.
In 1924, the first motorbus service began and was so instantly popular with the riders that three more “Mack” buses were purchased the following year. Both buses and trolleys continued to operate through World War II, until February 1, 1947 when the streetcars were discontinued. Yakima was the last city in Washington to lose this service.
In March of 1957, the Yakima Valley Transportation Company, a subsidiary of the Union Pacific Railroad, was sold to a private individual. Years of struggle followed and in May of 1966, the private company went out of business. This trend was repeated all across the nation as private companies were going bankrupt by the ever-increasing costs of operating a transit system.
After a few months without bus service, the citizens of Yakima voted for a Household Tax to support a transit system and the Yakima City Lines began operation on October 3, 1966. In December 1978, the name was changed to Yakima Transit.
Yakima Transit operated under the Household Tax until the end of 1980. At that time, operating expenses began exceeding income so the citizens again went to the poles and voted in a 3/10 of 1% sales tax dedicated solely to transit. This tax was instituted on January 1, 1981 and replaced the Household tax that was no longer viable.
Yakima Transit has continued to operate within the city limits of Yakima and in June 2005, was able to extend to the communities of Selah and Union Gap for two years, by utilizing funds from a special Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality grant.
Transit ridership is exceeding one million passenger-boardings annually on the fixed route system. In addition Yakima Transit also provides paratransit service to eligible riders with the Dial-A-Ride program. A Vanpool program is also expanding with over twenty vans either operating or available for service. Transit recently started a Travel Training program for riders needing familiarization with the buses, routes and equipment.
Yakima Transit is proud to have provided the Yakima area with almost fourty years of transportation services!