The Pullman City Council on Tuesday heard about what it would take to restart a bus service that would transport passengers between Moscow and Pullman.
Pullman Transit Manager Wayne Thompson said a private charter ran buses between the two cities from 1992 to 2011.
He pointed out that though people remember the service fondly, it ended because of low ridership.
“It has continued to be remembered in almost mythical proportions,” he joked.
Creating a new bus route would cost around $340,000 per year, and the earliest it could start is in 2021, he said.
Half of its cost could be paid with federal money, but the rest of the money would have to come locally.
WSU Transit Manager John Shaheen told the council Tuesday he believes people would use the Pullman-Moscow bus, but the biggest obstacle the cities face is cost.
“There would be plenty of ridership,” Shaheen said. “The problem is the funding and making it affordable.”
Thompson said Pullman Transit’s priority now is adding another community route in Pullman, another express service on the Washington State University campus and creating a weekday service providing trips to the Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport.
However, Thompson said his department would explore a Pullman to Moscow route if the council directed it to do so.
Thompson said a Pullman to Moscow route would require partnership between the two cities and several questions would have to be answered, including how many people would use the service and whether the service should also expand to cities like Colton and Palouse. Sheeran said the council would need to define the scope and expectations of adding such a bus route.
Thompson said the service that ran until 2011 was intended for students traveling between both local universities, but it ended up being mainly used by Moscow residents going to work at WSU.
Also during Tuesday’s meeting, the council authorized a one-year agreement with Whitman County on the costs to provide district court services at the current city hall building on Paradise Street.
The city will pay the county $450,000 as part of the criminal justice service agreement to process misdemeanors, gross misdemeanors and code violations that the Pullman Police Department brings to the court. This is an increase from the previous cost of $347,000.
City Attorney Laura McAloon said the city is working with a consultant to look at options for continuing to provide these services in Pullman beyond 2020.
Its future in Pullman is in question as the city plans to move its services to a new city hall location on Crestview Street.
Anthony Kuipers can be reached at (208) 883-4640, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.