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March 1 Deadline for Sumner Transit Survey Approaching

Citizens have a few more days to weigh in on what they'd like to see in terms of transit service now that Sumner is not longer a part of the Pierce Transit service district.

What do the citizens of Sumner want in a transportation program now that the city is no longer a part of the Pierce Transit?

It's a question city leaders hope as many residents as possible can help answer through a transit survey that has been distributed and will remain open until March 1 when results will be tabulated.

Residents were mailed copies of the survey with their utility bills, and hard copies are also available at City Hall, the Sumner Library, Senior Center and the Puyallup/Sumner Chamber of Commerce, said city spokesperson Carmen Palmer.

An electronic version is also available on the city website. (Up on the Plateau, the city of Bonney Lake has also distributed its own survey to collect similar feedback.)

The survey is the most recent way city leaders are hoping to garner feedback from residents. Mayor Dave Enslow began asking for input in May 2012 after the city was officially removed from the Pierce Transit service district.

Meanwhile, leaders continue to explore options to serve local citizens. The agenda packet for the Jan. 14 study session shows that Councilmembers Nancy Dumas and Randy Hynek brought forth a proposal for a pilot transportation system that would through an initial six-month phase operate at a zero cost to the city - thanks to grants - and would be able to provide transportation for local seniors to and from medical appointments and shopping errands, connect riders to Bonney Lake, and more. (See page 3 of the study session packet PDF attached with this item). The program, based in Pierce County, was revisited during the study session this past Monday, according to the meeting agenda. Editor's Note: Patch is continuing to work on learning more about the proposed program; stay tuned for more information.

Todd February 27, 2013 at 02:41 PM
Let me get this right...there aren't enough riders so Pierce Transit cuts back on routes. Sumner- BL residents don't like paying for bus service they are getting, so they vote to cut tax support for Pierce Transit. Pierce Transit response by thretening to cut Vanpool Service to the same areas (decision to be made Mar 11th). So now, Sumner's response it to creat there own bus service, in the same low service, unsupported area, with bight shiny new buses and maintenance and administration? That sounds like a huge hole and throw money in. Why not just reopen negotiations with Pierce Transit, change fares, creat an assistance program, something. Why reinvent the wheel that went flat. Fix the wheel!
Nancy M. Dumas February 27, 2013 at 04:03 PM
Sumner was part of the Pierce Transit Boundary Area (PTBA). At the end of 2011, officials were appointed by their Council's to attend PTIC to discuss staying in the PTBA and continue to receive service (which had just been reduced Oct 2011) or leave the PTBA and the service would end Sept. 28, 2012. Every city that decided to leave the PTBA was by a vote of their respective city councils, except Sumner. Sumner's City Council did not know that they had been removed from the PTBA until April 2012 when I began to read the minutes from the PTIC meetings. It was there that I discovered that at the Dec 10, 2011 meeting, that Mayor Enslow had said that he didn't know how his council felt about this and wanted to bring it back to them. All Council meetings were canceled for the remainder of the year so this was not discussed. It was to be brought forth by the Mayor to Council at a Study Session January 9, 2012, however, the Mayor did not attend that SS. At 9am, January 23, 2012, at the PTIC meeting, Mayor Enslow removed Sumner from the PTBA without Council knowledge or a vote. That same evening of January 23, 2012, Sumner had a Study Session and Council was not advised of what had happened just hours before.
Nancy M. Dumas February 27, 2013 at 04:21 PM
Let's look at how Pierce Transit was funded : Sumner paid $2mil in taxes and received $500K in service. Yes, it looks like we were hosed until you look at the dollars forensically and where those sales tax dollars come from. The great majority of Sumner's sales tax dollars are supported by people outside of Sumner that come and shop at our many larger retailers and support our industrial north end. Because those sales tend to be higher ticket items, the sales tax paid also follows. If 90% of Sumner's retail sales tax comes from outside of Sumner, then for the $2mil collected, that means Sumner resident's paid $200K in sales tax and received $500K in PT service. If that percentage is lower at 80% (which would be a stretch), then still, Sumner residents paid $400K in sales tax and received $500K in service. And, so here we are with seniors, people with disabilities or illness and people who are lower in income and relied on the bus, shuttle or van to get them where they needed to go. This was not a free service. Bus fare still needed to be paid and there was a monthly shuttle fee for it's use, paid for by the user. Cities who "opted out" of the PTBA can not return to Pierce Transit for 2 years. So what do we do to support those in our community who relied on PT's service to get them to chemo, work, the grocery store? We get creative and think outside of the box.
Nancy M. Dumas February 27, 2013 at 04:39 PM
Brought forward at the January 14, 2012 Study Session was the Pilot Transportation Project to be a combination of a public/private partnership utilizing available grant funding and by design, not to follow a "failed" business model. Finding the transportation company to provide the service went out for bid through Pierce County (our amazing partner in this venture and we couldn't do this without them) so that shuttles, not full length buses, would be used. These shuttles are to be lift equipped with fully trained and knowledgeable drivers and all maintainance, fuel, payroll, insurance, etc., is born by the transportation company and funded through the grant. The route is designed to be a deviated fixed route, meaning that if a resident is (physically/cognitively) unable to get to the designated pick up spot and needs more specialized service, the driver can deviate off of the route by 1/2 mile and do a door to door pick up and assist that resident. The beauty of this program is that because this is a "pilot" program, Sumner has the ability to be fluid during the grant period and collect data (where people need to go and when, what stops work, what stops don't) and course correct until June 30. We can customize the program to best meet the needs of our residents and move as many people as we can between now and the end of June to really understand our the needs of our community. It is designed to be a very robust service, 7 days a week and 12 hours each day.
Nancy M. Dumas February 27, 2013 at 04:58 PM
I encourage you to return your surveys or go online and fill them out. Please do not be distracted by the question that asks what are you willing to pay. Not a fair question as there are funding options (including grant funding) that will be available to Sumner after this grant period ends June 30. What we do need are honest, raw answers and suggestions in the comment section. This Pilot Transportation System is essentially a blind study since data is unavailable from Pierce Transit. We are starting from scratch and have the opportunity to do something totally cool in Sumner and connect our residents beyond our city limits by connecting them to Pierce Transit's system. As a very important side note, this Pilot Transportation System is slated to start this Friday, March 1st in Sumner. It will be fluid and as data is collected, routes may change a bit so it can become more efficient and meet the needs. Keep checking the City's web site www.ci.sumner.wa.us for updated information. Local Motion LLC is the provider our partner's in Pierce County chose. They are white shuttle vans with blue writing on the side. 2-1-1 is where residents can call if the deviated service is needed. Thank you for reading through all of this and being interested in what Sumner is doing to creatively meets the needs of our residents.
April Chan February 27, 2013 at 05:40 PM
Thank you, Nancy for all of the background information! I look forwarded to checking out the system this Friday and beyond.
Kaedy Nelson February 27, 2013 at 05:57 PM
Thank you, Nancy. I have completed my survey and hope others will as well. We really need bus service in town. I would use it to get to the Sounder Station if I could.

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