A bus route that carries commuters between the Bonney Lake Park & Ride and the Sounder station in downtown Sumner might not disappear this summer after all.
Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy and Sumner Mayor Dave Enslow are set today to announce their proposal to replace the Pierce Transit route with a new Sound Transit express route. McCarthy and Enslow are members of the Sound Transit board, and will pitch the idea to their board colleagues at a meeting Thursday.
“I’m thrilled that we’ve been able to figure out a solution to this situation,” said McCarthy, chairwoman of the Sound Transit board. “I think it will serve the citizens of East Pierce County very well.”
If the board signs off, the regional transit agency will hire Pierce Transit to operate the route with service starting June 9.
It essentially will be the same route that Pierce Transit operates today as Route 496, Enslow said.
Pierce Transit slashed service in the last year and is near the end of a boundary revision process. Route 496 is slated to go away in June.
That has worried East Pierce commuters who catch the bus to avoid parking congestion at the Sumner station, Enslow and McCarthy said. Buses on the route have a total of more than 270 boardings on an average weekday.
“In Sumner, (if you catch) the first two trains you can park. After the first two trains, you’re out of luck,” Enslow said.
He and McCarthy both said they’re optimistic about the proposal’s chances before the rest of the Sound Transit board.
If it passes, the transit agency will budget $253,000 for route operations and Park & Ride maintenance through December. After that, costs would be handled as part of the normal service planning and budgeting process.
Sound Transit also is talking with Pierce Transit and Bonney Lake about long-term ownership and care of the Park & Ride, today owned by Pierce Transit.
Bonney Lake Mayor Neil Johnson, who also has been vocal about the need for bus service between the Park & Ride and Sounder station, said his city is open to working on solutions. The bus service is important to people on the plateau, he said.
Before long, Bonney Lake, Sumner and some other communities are likely to be out of the Pierce Transit service and taxing area. New boundaries, which were established through a public process, are expected to become final in early May.
Sara Schilling: 253-552-7058