In November 1995, four GTA buses began to roll along the streets and highways of Grant County. This was the beginning of a successful demonstration project for a public transportation system in Grant County. During the first month of service buses traveled 16,337 miles, operated a total of 868 hours, and transported a total of 871 riders.
One year later, in November 1996, Grant County voters narrowly approved the establishment of an official Public Transportation Benefit Area (PTBA). A 2/10 of one percent sales tax was levied, which the state matches dollar for dollar with funds collected through motor vehicle excise taxes. That month of November, eight buses were operating, traveling a total of 22,589 miles per month, providing 1508 hours of service. Ridership was at 1,964.
Soon after, new routes were added covering areas previously not served, and some existing routes were expanded from two or three days per week to five or six. Many additional drivers and dispatchers were hired to cover the additional hours of service. During July, buses operated for a total of 2,422 hours and covered 69,940 miles, while serving a record high 6,884 riders.
Major schedule changes were implemented in September. During the month of October, 3,575 hours of service were provided, buses traveled 84,755 miles, and 5,951 riders were served.
The GTA Citizen's Advisory Board provided the grass routes information necessary to operate buses when and where they were needed the most. This committee worked very hard to funnel information to GTA so that the transit system was able to maximize its benefit to residents and visitors of Grant County. As a result of their persistence 6,412 riders were transported in December 1997, for a total of 57,904 in 1997.
1998 proved to have an even stronger impact on the citizen's of Grant County as Grant Transit Authority had over 132,000 boardings. The PTBA consisted of all of Grant County with the exception of Quincy, who decided to opt out of the vote in 1995. In November of 1998 GTA was put on the ballot in Quincy and the adjacent voting precincts and passed with ease. On January 4 th , 1999 service began in Quincy. Grant Transit Authority started with the three routes that had, until January, gone around Quincy and re-routed them through Quincy. In March, 1999 two additional routes began. These routes provide an opportunity for the citizen's of Quincy to be able to travel within Grant County. Grant Transit Authority provides safe and economical transportation taking people to school and to work, to medical trips, recreation and casual trips. The total boardings for 1999 came to 164,254.
In November of 1999 the citizens of Washington State voted in Initiative 695, which eliminated motor vehicle excise tax. Due to the elimination of taxes, Grant Transit Authority, along with all other Public Transportation Benefit Areas in Washington State, lost half of its income. Therefore, the number of hours had to be reduced dramatically. These reductions took place January 1, 2000. Along with the hour reduction in January 2000, routes were re-visited and transfers and connections made possible. Although Grant Transit Authority was forced to reduce our service hours by 51%, ridership remained over 109,000 boardings in the year 2000. Also in 2000 GTA purchased 7 new Blue Bird coaches with the assistance of Grants that had been received from WSDOT and FTA.
Operations for 2001 ran along the same lines as they did in 2000. Grant Transit Authority has worked hard to provide service for people to get to school, work and medical trips as well as opportunities to shop.