Sumner is the latest city to take steps to drop out of Pierce Transit, joining its East Pierce neighbors Bonney Lake, Buckley and Orting.
The potential boundary changes aren’t final, but they’re reflected in a preliminary map that was agreed on Monday. The map now heads to a public hearing scheduled for March.
Sumner Mayor Dave Enslow said his city would prefer to stay in Pierce Transit, with service.
“But we’re just not getting much service,” he said. “They took away service and yet they’re still collecting (sales) tax.”
His city now has two bus routes – one running between Bonney Lake and the Sumner Sounder station downtown, the other running between the station and a transit center in Tacoma. The average number of people boarding the bus weekdays at Sumner’s six stops was 186 between October and December of last year, according to Pierce Transit figures.
The transit agency proposed a districtwide sales tax increase last year, but it failed, leading to widespread service cuts and layoffs.
The transit board initiated the boundary revision process last fall by convening a Public Transportation Improvement Conference, or PTIC. The group includes representatives from most towns and cities in Pierce County, and from county government itself. Members settle on a preliminary map, which goes to the public for input before a final boundary decision is made.
An early version of the map carved out 217 square miles from Pierce Transit’s 530-square-mile territory – land to the east and south of Puyallup and Sumner, and to the west of the Tacoma Narrows Bridges, except for a corridor that includes the City of Gig Harbor. DuPont also was out.
The map that PTIC members approved Monday is the same except that Sumner also opted out, officials said.
These areas get little or no bus service.
One more change could be coming: The City of Auburn may have to go because the departure of Sumner could turn it into an island cut off from the rest of the transit district. This isn’t allowed under state law, officials said.
Derek Young, a Gig Harbor city councilman and PTIC chairman, said the changes would “get us to a place that I think is sustainable.”
But, he said, “we want people to speak up and have their voice heard.”
For more information on the process, go to www.piercetransit.org/ptic.htm.
Sara Schilling: 253-552-7058 firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/street