With the failure of Proposition No. 1 last fall, Pierce Transit is weighing significant changes to its vanpool program that would greatly impact commuters who live in areas now outside of its service area boundaries, which include Bonney Lake and Sumner.
Namely, the agency is proposing aligning its vanpool service area boundaries with its general Public Transportation Benefit Area (PTBA). This means that, should its Board of Commissioners approve the change, commuters who currently meet in Bonney Lake or Sumner to ride to a destination outside of the service area would have to either change their origin point by June 30 or dissolve.
"We are trying to be considerate of how our policies best serve the people who still live in the [service] district," said spokesperson Lars Erickson.
Last week, 683 riders from 78 vanpool groups received the letters indicating they would need to change origin locations or discontinue service if the proposal were passed, Erickson said. In all, Pierce Transit's vanpool program serves 2,598 people from 308 groups.
Vanpool coordinators are fielding questions from affected groups and trying to mitigate conflicts by working with analogous services in the neighboring counties where the groups make their destinations. Those with questions or concerns about their service should contact the vanpool coordinators listed in the letter they received, he said.
A public hearing on the issue is scheduled for Feb. 11 in Lakewood.
Erickson clarified that if either origin or destination point were within the service area, those groups were not affected by this particular proposal. Those affected would be, for example, a group that currently meets in Bonney Lake to drive to Tukwila, in King County. As the destination can't change, the origin must, and must move to a point within the Pierce Transit service area.
As part of the proposal, the agency is also adjusting its overnight parking policy to allow for parking at riders' homes, particularly if a group has members who live within the service area. The current policy only allows for vans to be parked at a designated driver's home or at an agency-approved spot, Erickson said.
The Feb. 11 public hearing will also allow for comment on proposals to increase vanpool fares as well as recover Tacoma Narrows Bridge tolls for vanpools that cross the bridge.
The hearing is part of the regular monthly meeting of the Board of Commissioners and takes place at 4 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 11 at Pierce Transit's Training Center, Building 5, 3720 96th St SW, Lakewood, WA.
Would this proposal affect your vanpool group? Tell us in the comments.