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Council urges Pierce Transit to keep Prairie Ridge bus routes
The Bonney Lake City Council made it loud and clear to Pierce Transit officials – keep service to the Prairie Ridge area.
During a Feb. 16 workshop. Tina Lee, principal planner for Pierce Transit, updated the council on “Pierce Transit Tomorrow” redesign planning process that focuses on their vision, along with current and new funding.
Lee said the Park and Ride in Bonney Lake is a key focal point for Pierce Transit, but ridership on the other Bonney Lake routes, such as Prairie Ridge, is extremely low and faces proposed elimination.
Councilman James Rackley stated his concern about possible elimination of routes to Prairie Ridge.
“When you cut off Prairie Ridge, you are cutting off people’s ability to get to work,” Rackley said. “They can’t afford to lose their jobs.”
Lee said the route would be eliminated due to the decreased number of hours Pierce Transit has to work with and low ridership.
“Cutting these services are painful to do,” she said.
City Administrator Don Morrison said the city contributes about $2 million to Pierce Transit. Pierce Transit receives six-tenths of 1 percent from city sales tax revenues.
“What we would argue is that we (city) are already paying for two service routes (406 and 407),” Morrison said.
Deputy Mayor Dan Swatman said Morrison’s comments reflect the opinion of many residents. He said eliminating the Prairie Ridge routes is “unacceptable.”
Swatman said he’ll press the administration to find out if Bonney Lake can use the city’s taxing authority to form a transit system on the Plateau.
Pierce Transit’s current funding plan calls for significant reductions in service and elimination of unproductive routes like Prairie Ridge.
It would retain routes based on jobs, population and current ridership, along with connecting urban centers. There would be no service to the Park and Rides in Bonney Lake and Sumner during weekends.
Lee said the 30-year-old transit system is examining itself to determine if it is serving the county and its market.
She noted 73 percent of Pierce Transit’s revenue comes from sales taxes and its budget has been significantly impacted.
According to Lee, Pierce Transit is spending money from its reserve fund to continue operating the same level of service. She expects Pierce Transit to deplete its reserves by the middle of 2012.
Lee said the first series of outreach events included nine community design workshops, two summits, 39 leader interviews and 54 community presentations, with 1,400 comments received and more than 8,500 face-to-face interactions.
“We really focused on values and what is important to the community so we could use them to shape the concepts we designed,” Lee said. “We found that social service and economic development were the two values that rose to the top.”
The next public meeting is from 6 to 7:30 p.m. March 5 in Puyallup. Visit www.PTtomorrow.org for information.