The free pilot transportation program "Beyond the Borders Connector" has been running in rural parts of Pierce County including Sumner and Bonney Lake for about a month, and community leaders are continuing to try and get the word out to local seniors that this service is free, convenient and reliable especially since there is no longer a public transportation option in this area of the county.
Marge Tully, of Pierce County Community Connections and Sumner Councilwoman Nancy Dumas were on hand at the Sumner Senior Center Monday to promote the service with about two dozen local seniors, answer their questions and field suggestions for improvements.
There is a barrier of fear that some seniors feel with regards to a project like this, Dumas said, where they worry they'll be stranded or they simply can't understand how to read a bus schedule.
It was why the women made it a point to meet the seniors face to face and address their concerns individually.
Tully stressed that because this was a pilot project with funding through the end of June, it was still a moldable service where riders' input would shape what a more permanent service would look like. Some seniors offered suggestions already for a route that would connect local senior centers to each other or to more shopping opportunities in the area, she said.
Take a Guided Tour
Tully and Dumas invite anyone who is interested in learning more about the service to return to the Senior Center this Thursday, March 28 to hop on one of the shuttle vans that will drive the Sumner route to get familiar with the service and overcome any concerns they might have about reliability.
Currently, the service is available to connect qualified Sumner residents to Pierce Transit in Puyallup as well as the downtown shopping area and a Bonney Lake route up State Route 410 via a loop. Shuttles run on the hour Mondays through Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sundays.
Up on the Plateau, the Bonney Lake circular route connects riders from Walmart, around to Rhododendron Park and the Prairie Ridge Community Center and back to the commercial strip on State Route 410. The Bonney Lake route follows the same hours.
The service was , said Dumas, but leaders are beginning to work with the Sumner School District to give students ages 12 to 17 a chance to use the service as well outside of school activities, and particularly to get them to job locations where they'd otherwise be stranded.
Anyone interested in taking the tour should arrive at the Sumner Senior Center at about 12 p.m.