McCarthy, Enslow aim to save Bonney Lake-Sumner commuter service

Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy and Sumner Mayor Dave Enslow today announced a proposal for Sound Transit to preserve bus service between the Bonney Lake Park-and-Ride lot and the Sumner Sounder Station. The new service, ST Express Route 596, would replace Pierce Transit Route 496, which Pierce Transit will discontinue in June.

“If approved by the full Board on Thursday, our proposal would enable Sound Transit to continue serving Sounder train commuters who rely every day on connecting bus service between Bonney Lake and Sumner,” said Enslow, who also serves on the Sound Transit Board. “Since ST Express Route 596 would be the only connector route serving Sounder riders who commute from the Plateau, maintaining dedicated feeder bus service is essential to supporting our riders’ ability to continue using Sounder to get to and from work.”

“We are pleased to have developed a proposal that can continue connector service for Sounder riders from Bonney Lake, Buckley and Enumclaw,” added McCarthy, who serves as chair of the Sound Transit Board.

Parking demand at Sounder stations in Pierce County and South King County is already over capacity, according to McCarthy and Enslow. High-quality bus connections to stations are critical to meeting the needs of riders from eastern Pierce County.

The new ST Express Route 596 mirrors a previously-operated Sound Transit connector bus route approved by voters in the 1996 Sound Move ballot measure. That service, ST Express Route 582, operated between Bonney Lake and Tacoma until 2010. Pierce Transit began Route 496 service in 2007. The route proposed by Mayor Enslow today would function as a fast, limited-stop service for passengers making long-distance regional trips, with direct connections to commuter rail and other transit modes. If funded, the service would begin June 9 with schedules timed to meet morning and afternoon Sounder trains at the Sumner Station.

If approved by the Sound Transit Board on Thursday, the proposal would amend the Adopted 2012 ST Express Transit Operations budget from $102,308,773 to $102,561,773. The $253,000 amendment would fund the operation of ST Express Route 596 and associated maintenance costs at the Bonney Lake Park-and-Ride lot through December 2012. Bus service and maintenance costs would be funded by allocating unused Pierce County subarea capacity. Future service and maintenance costs would be built into the Service Implementation Plan and annual budgeting process.

If the budget amendment is approved, Sound Transit would enter into an agreement with Pierce Transit to operate Route 596 under contract, using Sound Transit buses. Sound Transit is currently in discussion with the City of Bonney Lake and Pierce Transit on the ownership and maintenance of the Bonney Lake Park-and-Ride lot.