PORT ANGELES — The Board of Clallam County Transit at its Dec. 20 meeting unanimously approved a $17.3 million operating budget for 2024 that eliminated fares and an $8.5 million capital budget.
The operating budget anticipated $14.5 million in revenues; contributions to the operating reserve of $4.44 million; a vehicle replacement reserve of $4.5 million; and a facility and equipment reserve of $2.7 million.
A public hearing on the budgets held during the meeting generated no comments or input.
The estimated $425,000 in fares the system will forgo when a one-year, zero-fare pilot program starts Jan. 1 will be made up for in Move Ahead Washington public transportation grant funds.
“We’ve been getting very positive feedback,” said General Manager Jim Fetzer, who anticipated seeing growth in fixed-route and Clallam Connect (the paratransit system) numbers when the zero-fare program starts.
Fixed-route ridership is already starting to return to pre-pandemic levels. Since March, the number of passengers getting on the bus every month has beaten each of the previous years going back to 2020.
Most of the 2024 capital budget — $6,445,864 — is dedicated to replacing is fleet of diesel buses, paratransit, rideshare and support vehicles. Three grants totalling $3,586,864 will fund more than half of those purchases.
Other capital projects include replacing shelters, upgrading the telephone, software and camera systems and painting facilities.
In other news, the board approved a collective bargaining agreement for wage increases and benefits with the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 587, which represents bus drivers, paratransit operators, maintenance workers, fleet technicians and customer service representatives that will be effective today until Dec. 31, 2026.
It also approved changes to certain non-represented employee benefits to be alignment with those of represented employees.
Reporter Paula Hunt can be reached at email@example.com.