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Pierce Transit proposing route changes for East Pierce County
Pierce Transit has scheduled an open house in Bonney Lake tonight, Wednesday, to discuss with residents plans by the transit authority that could lead to the elimination and/or re-shaping of routes throughout the East Pierce County.
Due to a gap between revenue and expenditures that is expected to reach $68 million by 2012, Pierce Transit has announced a series of change to their routes in an attempt to save money.
Initially, the plan called for the elimination of all routes through East Pierce County except from the Park ‘n’ Ride in Bonney Lake to the Sounder Station in Sumner.
Following the announcement of the authority’s plans, the small cities of Pierce County, including Bonney Lake, Buckley and Orting, banded together to complain that Pierce Transit was continuing to tax their people while eliminating service to and through their cities.
In response, Pierce Transit added a couple of additional routes to Buckley in its “reduction plan” and increased service to Bonney Lake, Buckley, Orting and Prairie Ridge as part of its “growth plan,” which would take effect if the Pierce Transit board opted to ask for an additional 0.3 percent sales tax and it was approved by voters.
Under the new “growth plan,” which assumes the tax increase, the city would still loose routes 406 and 407, with service to Buckley and Prairie Ridge, respectively, every two hours, but the 450 would connect Bonney Lake and Buckley with service mid-day every two hours. Route 496, which connects the Park ‘n’ Ride to the Sounder Station, would include two trips to Buckley each morning and evening, timed with the trains.
Pierce Transit officials have said they are trying to focus on areas with higher ridership and East Pierce County does not have the numbers to keep the routes profitable.
For example, the typical cost to Pierce Transit per passenger is $2.54 on a “trunk route” and $3.88 on an urban route while the cost per passenger on Route 407 through Bonney Lake is $14.12.
Though routes are being cut, Pierce Transit spokesperson Lars Erickson said in an e-mail that the number of service hours on the Plateau is scheduled to increase under the “growth plan,” which assumes a sales tax increase.
According to numbers provided by Erickson, Pierce Transit presently provides 11,133 hours of service per year in the Bonney Lake/Prairie Ridge/Buckley area. Under the “growth plan,” that is scheduled to increase to 12,373 hours.
Bonney Lake city officials have expressed discontent and skepticism about the authority’s plans and the likelihood that voters will approve a 0.3 percent sales tax increase to further fund buses and have discussed the possibility of de-annexing from the district.