Pierce Transit bus service now serves Sumner business district

Businesses in the Sumner area expect to get a boost from a new Pierce Transit route.

Starting Feb. 9, Pierce Transit Route 409 began making two morning trips and two afternoon trips connecting the North Sumner industrial area to the Sumner Transit Station. The 409 connects with trains and buses to Tacoma, Puyallup, Seattle, and Bonney Lake from the Sumner Sounder Station.

Efforts to try this service have been underway for years between the City of Sumner and Pierce Transit. Lack of any public transportation option was a top concern of businesses in the area. In 2008, Pierce County joined the effort after County Business Retention and Expansion program staff began hearing increased worry from Sumner businesses that a lack of transit service was making it difficult to hire and retain qualified employees that relied on transit to get to work. The Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County heard similar concerns.

The City of Sumner, Pierce County’s Economic Development Division and Pierce Transit teamed up to focus on addressing this challenge. A survey to determine specific transit needs in the area confirmed that 73 percent of respondents reported their employees had lengthy and expensive commutes, and a majority were concerned about employees’ inability to afford vehicle expenses. Over 90 percent of respondents said they would provide information and encouragement to their employees to ride a bus if it served the area.

“We heard loud and clear that the absence of transit service was a concern for North Sumner companies,” said County Councilman Shawn Bunney, whose District 1 includes Sumner. “One of the Pierce County Economic Stimulus Report’s recommendations called for enhanced bus service to this vital area. Thanks to the responsiveness of Pierce Transit, this partnership will directly support the county’s goals of retaining businesses and keeping family-wage jobs in our community where they belong.”

Pierce Transit reviewed underperforming routes and was able to reallocate service hours for this project to give the 409 a more effective route within its existing hours. Route 409 will now include service to the north Sumner industrial area, which is home to businesses that employ approximately 7,000.

“Pierce Transit is pleased to offer innovative service to Sumner businesses and their employees,” said Lynne Griffith, Pierce Transit CEO. “I extend special gratitude to Pierce County’s Economic Development Division for coordinating these efforts with the City of Sumner.”

The new route is also a pilot for a new method for catching the bus. To catch the bus, riders can just stand along the route and wave their hand, or use a red blinking light that Pierce Transit will provide, to flag down the bus similar to hailing a cab. The driver will stop as soon as is safely possible.

“I am very glad to see this service adjustment, and I’m proud of the partnerships that made it happen,” said Sumner Mayor Dave Enslow. “The businesses kept giving us feedback, and we were able to work with Pierce Transit and then also Pierce County to help relook at the 409 and make it work better. Now we need people to ride it so that we can keep the service to this area.”

For more information on service to the north Sumner industrial area (Pierce Transit Route 409), call Pierce Transit’s Customer Services at 253-581-8000 or visit online at http://www.piercetransit.org .