City Councilmember Mike Courts, the President of the Transportation Benefit District, is leading an effort to explore options for improved public transportation in DuPont. Currently, only the Sounder, Sound Transit’s commuter bus service from Olympia to Seattle, serves the city.
Until two years ago, DuPont belonged to the Pierce County Public Transportation Benefit Area, commonly known as Pierce Transit. Citizens paid 6/10ths of 1% sales tax to Pierce Transit, yet they did not receive any transportation service. The total City tax contribution ranged from $400,000 to $900,000 annually. Despite negotiations, we were unable to secure service for DuPont and the City Council opted to withdraw from Pierce Transit. While this eliminated the associated sales tax, it didn’t solve the issue of bus service for DuPont.
During the Mayor’s recent series of Town Hall Meetings, one of the issues commonly brought up was a desire for local bus service. Councilmember Courts began engaging various organizations to explore the potential for bus service and discovered that state law tightly prescribes the rules and service providers for public transportation. That means DuPont can’t start its own service, or contract with other transit agencies but would have to work with Pierce Transit again. Fortunately, during the past two years, Pierce Transit has re-looked their business model and is receptive to new business opportunities. After approaching their business development officer, the Pierce Transit Board authorized their representatives to begin negotiations with DuPont to propose ways to provide bus service.
In the next few weeks Councilmember Courts, the City Administrator, with representatives from Pierce Transit and City staff, will meet and discuss alternatives. Service to and from the Lakewood Transit Center, and Towne Center to access retail, entertainment, dining and transportation nodes will be discussed, as will service to and from neighboring cities like Lacey and Steilacoom, and intra-city service in DuPont. Three outcomes are possible: agree that rejoining the Benefit Area would not benefit DuPont or Pierce Transit, rejoin Pierce Transit, or contract their services.
There will be Town Hall Meetings, public hearings and other opportunities for public comment as possibilities are discussed, and there may even be a trial period to test whether or not service will work for DuPont. It is too early to predict what level of service, if any, will be proposed. Please consider how you would choose to use bus service and what levels you’d like to see. When the time comes, the City needs these thoughts so it can insure that whatever the outcome, DuPont receives the best and most affordable service possible at the level citizens want.