Deal announced to save bus route from Park and Ride to Sounder station

Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy and Sumner Mayor Dave Enslow on Monday announced a proposal for Sound Transit to preserve bus service between the Bonney Lake Park-and-Ride lot and the Sumner Sounder Station.

The new service, ST Express Route 596, would replace Pierce Transit Route 496, which Pierce Transit will discontinue in June.

"If approved by the full Board on Thursday, our proposal would enable Sound Transit to continue serving Sounder train commuters who rely every day on connecting bus service between Bonney Lake and Sumner," said Enslow, who also serves on the Sound Transit Board.

"Since ST Express Route 596 would be the only connector route serving Sounder riders who commute from the Plateau, maintaining dedicated feeder bus service is essential to supporting our riders' ability to continue using Sounder to get to and from work," he said in a press release.

Parking demand at Sounder stations in Pierce County and South King County is already over capacity, including Sumner. Bus connections to stations are critical to meeting the needs of riders from eastern Pierce County.

"We are pleased to have developed a proposal that can continue connector service for Sounder riders from Bonney Lake, Buckley and Enumclaw," said McCarthy, who serves as chair of the Sound Transit Board. "I would like to thank Mayor Enslow for his leadership in working with Sound Transit, the City of Bonney Lake, and Pierce Transit to initiate productive discussions that stand to greatly benefit Pierce County residents who commute throughout the region every day."

The route proposed by Enslow today would function as a fast, limited-stop service for passengers making long-distance regional trips, with direct connections to commuter rail and other transit modes. If funded, the service would begin June 9 with schedules timed to meet morning and afternoon Sounder trains at the Sumner Station.

The new ST Express Route 596 mirrors a previously-operated Sound Transit connector bus route approved by voters in the 1996 Sound Move ballot measure. That service, ST Express Route 582, operated between Bonney Lake and Tacoma until 2010. Pierce Transit began Route 496 service in 2007.

If approved by the Sound Transit Board on Thursday, the proposal would amend the Adopted 2012 ST Express Transit Operations budget from $102,308,773 to $102,561,773.

The $253,000 amendment would fund the operation of ST Express Route 596 and associated maintenance costs at the Bonney Lake Park-and-Ride lot through December 2012. Bus service and maintenance costs would be funded by allocating unused Pierce County subarea capacity. Future service and maintenance costs would be built into the Service Implementation Plan and annual budgeting process.

If the budget amendment is approved, Sound Transit would enter into an agreement with Pierce Transit to operate Route 596 under contract, using Sound Transit buses. Sound Transit is currently in discussion with the City of Bonney Lake and Pierce Transit on the ownership and maintenance of the Bonney Lake Park-and-Ride lot.

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