Editor's Note: This is a press release from the City of Sumner:
Mayor Dave Enslow today announced that he is looking for ideas from the public for providing shuttle service to the disabled and elderly in the wake of Sumner being outside the Pierce Transit district. Enslow is asking for creativity and innovation and stresses that there are no bad ideas.
As of May 8, Sumner is officially outside the Pierce Transit service district. Before leaving the district, Sumner service had been cut back already by the Pierce Transit board of directors. The 496 shuttle to Bonney Lake had been eliminated as had the 408. The 409 bus was cut back to only go into Sumner’s Sounder Station and not through town. The SHUTTLE service provides trips to the disabled but only serves those within three-quarters of a mile of regular bus service, which meant that it was no longer offered to residents of eastern and northern Sumner. Pierce Transit’s Sumner Service Summary indicated that the SHUTTLE service provided 3,452 trips per year, and Sumner businesses collected $1,965,866 in sales tax each year for Pierce Transit.
Enslow had been elected by the Sumner City Council to represent the city at the Public Transportation Improvement Conference, whose only purpose was to consider Pierce Transit’s service boundaries.
"I was hoping to talk about the problem with these extreme service cuts," said Enslow, "but when Pierce Transit wouldn’t let me and only asked me whether Sumner was in with such little service or out, I chose out so that we could pursue transportation options that really work for us."
Following these cuts, Enslow and Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy proposed that Sound Transit, an organization completely separate from Pierce Transit, take over the eliminated 496 route between Sumner and Bonney Lake. The Sound Transit board approved this proposal, and the new Sound Transit 596 will continue to connect the two cities at commute times starting on June 11. Sound Transit could not have made such a move if Sumner had remained within the Pierce Transit district.
Read a joint editorial from McCarthy and Enslow on the new bus route .
Enslow has recently been publicly criticized by two Sumner councilmembers, primarily about the loss of Pierce Transit’s SHUTTLE service. Read councilmember Nancy Dumas' Letter to the Editor regarding Enslow's interactions with Pierce Transit .
"I definitely care about the people who relied on the SHUTTLE service, but it didn’t provide service to our entire community," said Enlsow. "Plus, I don’t think that paying $2 million in taxes for 3,400 trips is the best use of our money. Each trip cost our citizens and our businesses $579. There has to be a better solution.”
At the on March 15, Enslow and Bonney Lake Mayor Neil Johnson asked citizens to start thinking about their transit needs and how the communities could provide for those needs in a more efficient way. Since then, Enslow has heard some comments and suggestions but would like more.
Comments have included stories about communities in Arizona where volunteers work through local non-profits to drive shut-in neighbors to their doctor’s appointments. Enslow also hopes to talk with local churches, service organizations and senior facilities about possible partnerships.
"We need to get people where they need to go," said Enslow, "but I just have to believe there’s a better way to do that than asking everyone to fund $579 per trip."
The revenue collected in Sumner came from 6/10 cent sales tax designated just for Pierce Transit. By being outside the Pierce Transit boundary, Sumner’s sales tax rate is lowered by that amount. It could not be transferred to any other organization, including the City of Sumner, for alternate transportation providers. Sound Transit will fund the new 596 route.
Future transit deas can be sent to Mayor Dave Enslow at email@example.com or mailed to City of Sumner, attn. Transit Ideas, 1104 Maple Street, Suite 200, Sumner WA 98390.