Monday evening the Pierce Transit Board, in a 4-3 vote, approved the October 2011 service plan "Focusing on Efficiency and Ridership."
17 15 fixed routes met the axe as a result. More than a hundred people testified at the meeting and four television camera crews were present. The Bonney Lake City Council even came to protest having routing in East Pierce County cut. (Perhaps this should have been more carefully considered before voting unanimously to reject Proposition 1 in January.) Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland reminded them of the resolution they passed.
What remains to be seen is how the municipalities of Dupont, Bonney Lake, Buckley, and Sumner respond to having so much of their service cut. Will these cities call a Public Transit Conference to shrink the service boundary? Two cities within the service area will need to pass resolutions calling for such a conference to start such a process.
What is significant about the reductions from this service plan is that the cost per rider will decrease from $9 to $5, a nearly 50% reduction in per passenger operating subsidy. So when new revenue and service hours are brought online, that Pierce Transit will be able to serve more riders more effectively.
There were two modifications to the plan based on public comment. Route deviations are likely planned for Route 500 between Downtown Tacoma and Federal Way Transit Center, which would allow for a connection between Downtown and Northeast Tacoma. Also, Route 496, a peak time Sounder feeder route between Bonney Lake Park and Ride and the Sumner Sounder Station will also be retained until February 2012, while Pierce Transit works to find a long term solution for that route. It’s likely that such a solution will involve Sound Transit.