Opinion

Pierce County should borrow trailhead transit idea

A pair of hikers have lunch near the top of Mt. Si. The four-mile, 3,000-vertical-foot hike near North Bend is a popular one, even mid-week. During the summer, King County now operates bus service to Mount Si and other trailheads in the area. Pierce County doesn’t do anything comparable.
A pair of hikers have lunch near the top of Mt. Si. The four-mile, 3,000-vertical-foot hike near North Bend is a popular one, even mid-week. During the summer, King County now operates bus service to Mount Si and other trailheads in the area. Pierce County doesn’t do anything comparable. News Tribune file photo, 2010

Hikers and other outdoorsy types in King County enjoy a special benefit that’s a breath of fresh air. Perhaps a day will come when we nature lovers in Pierce County can enjoy it, too.

Metro Transit service to spectacular trailheads along the Interstate 90 corridor will start up again later this month after a successful trial run last year. The expanded routes include trips every 30 minutes, on weekends and holidays, to the popular Mount Si trailhead, as well as Mount Teneriffe and destinations in the Issaquah Alps. (Buses depart the Mount Baker Transit Station in South Seattle and Sound Transit’s Capitol Hill Link light rail station.)

Here in the South Sound, Mount Rainier and other outdoor-recreation gems beckon for residents to visit, but many folks don’t want to drive that far or are reliant on public transportation. Would local governments consider a service akin to King County’s “Trailhead Direct”?

A Pierce Transit spokeswoman tells us there’s no money in the budget this year, but it could be explored for the summer of 2019. Meantime, the agency will bring back the “Transit to Trails” program it launched last summer; the service connects transit-dependent riders to the outdoors with monthly trips to nearby destinations such as Point Defiance Park and the Riverwalk Trail.

That’s a good half measure, but we encourage Pierce Transit, Pierce County Parks and other agencies to try something bigger, better and more regular. They could enlist corporate partners such as REI Co-op, which supports King County’s service.

We have dozens of awesome trailheads in Pierce County, and hundreds of placebound people. All we need is a coordinated effort to bring them together.

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