By Jessyn Farrell, Interim Public Relations Officer
Lakewood, WA – On Monday, June 13, 2011, the Pierce Transit Board of Commissioners approved a plan with some modifications for the final 15% service reduction scheduled for October. These modifications include preserving the route 496 (Bonney Lake Park & Ride to Sumner Sounder Station) through February 2012, and keeping some transit connection to Northeast Tacoma. The plan uses ridership and cost information to determine how to provide the most number of trips to the highest number of people. At a previous meeting, the Pierce Transit Board of Commissioners approved a 20% permanent service reduction that went into effect on June 12. Service to special events, including the Puyallup Fair and Tacoma’s Fourth of July Freedom Fair, were also eliminated.
The October reduction plan focuses on maintaining ridership, improving cost efficiency, and serving the largest number of people. Most of the retained routes are located in higher population density areas where transit service has been historically successful. Projections indicate this plan, when compared to a previous reduction proposal, will generate higher overall annual passenger trips, an increase in average passengers per service hour, and a reduction in the average cost per passenger trip by approximately 44%.
On most local routes, the October plan will offer weekday bus and SHUTTLE service from approximately 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday service from about 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday service from about 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will be extended hours on the routes 1,2, and 3 and related SHUTTLE service.
These reductions are necessary due to a $51 million budget shortfall brought on by the economic recession and loss of Proposition 1 at the February 8, 2011 election. Adoption of this final phase completes the plans for an overall 35% service reduction in 2011.
More than 140 people attended this public hearing at Pierce Transit headquarters in Lakewood. In addition, more than 350 people provided spoken or written testimony on the October reduction plan. The majority of people told Board members how essential public transportation is to their lives and how devastating the proposed cuts would be: keeping them from getting to work, attending school, shopping, going to church, and visiting friends.
Following public hearing testimony, the Board directed staff to preserve the Route 496 through February 2012 and to work with partners to find a possible solution for keeping that route. In addition, the Board directed staff to develop options for keeping a transit connection to Northeast Tacoma.
Board Chair Claudia Thomas stated, “It was extremely difficult to make these decisions. The Commissioners and I realize that everyone who depends on public transportation will be impacted by these cuts, but we did the best we could with the resources we have available to us.”
SHUTTLE, Pierce Transit’s paratransit service for people with disabilities, will parallel the fixed route service reductions that occur in October 2011. SHUTTLE operates within ¾ of a mile of bus routes on the same days and during the same time as regular bus service. Where bus service is reduced, SHUTTLE service will be reduced. Registered SHUTTLE customers will receive additional information once the details of the reductions are made final.
Pierce Transit will eliminate the following 14 bus routes and corresponding paratransit in October.
East Pierce County / Bonney Lake/ Sumner/ Buckley
• Route 406 Buckley
• Route 407 Prairie Ridge
• Route 408 Sumner-Bonney lake
• Route 409 Puyallup to Sumner segment
• Orting Loop
• Route 490 South Hill-Tacoma
• Route 446 Canyon Rd – South Hill Bus PLUS
• Route 413 Wildwood
• Route 26 Martin Luther King Jr. Way
• Route 59 Manitou
• Route 220 Orchard Street
• Route 603A Tacoma-Olympia
• Route 113 Key Peninsula Bus PLUS
• Route 601 Kimball-Olympia
• Route 444 Parkland-Spanaway Bus PLUS
Specific route-by-route information about the October service change is available on the Pierce Transit’s website. Customers may also call Customer Service at 253.581.8000.