Letters to the Editor

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BUSES: East Pierce could contract for service

Letter by Chris Karnes, Tacoma on May 25, 2011 at 1:15 pm with 8 Comments »
May 25, 2011 1:33 pm

Re: “Ballot-shy Pierce Transit risks vicious cycle of cuts” (editorial, 5-24).

The editorial presumes that East Pierce County would not see transit service ever again after Pierce Transit’s service cuts in October. I don’t buy the argument. Cities can and do contract out for transit services all the time.

For example, Auburn’s Sounder connector bus (Pierce Transit Route 497), is provided by contract with the city. In Bellingham, Sunday service is funded using a voter-approved transportation benefit district (TBD). In Olympia, late-night service to The Evergreen State College is even funded by student-approved contributions.

It’s possible that the communities affected by Pierce Transit’s cuts, after de-annexing, could create a TBD and collect sales taxes to contract out to a non–profit or private company. Communities like Bonney Lake would then receive a commensurate amount of service for the money they put in, as well as have more local control over routes and destinations.

The flip side of this would be that Pierce Transit then would not have to appeal to voters who rejected Proposition 1 by 2 to 1 margins. In this way, East Pierce’s withdrawal from Pierce Transit may be better for both suburban and urban in the long run.

Leave a comment Comments → 8
  1. live4fish says:

    Except for all the money that PT would lose from all the people who pay for the service and don’t get any. I would think that PT would really be sucking after they annex.

  2. alindasue says:

    Actually, I think it’s a good idea. The taxes from the affected areas only account for 4% of Pierce Transit’s income, yet the routes to those areas are the most expensive to run. If the local communities provide for their own transit services, then it’s just a matter of creating a few transfer points to connect them to the web of other transit systems throughout the region.

    It would be a win-win situation for everyone.

  3. itwasntmethistime says:

    I think that sounds like a good idea as well. People won’t like having to change buses between systems, but if they want public transportation in the outlying areas that’s what they are going to have to do.

  4. truthbusterguy says:

    I would pay a fee to support a private bus company to compete against PT.

  5. alindasue says:

    itwasntmethistime said, “People won’t like having to change buses between systems…”

    People change buses between systems all the time. When I go to Seattle, I ride a Pierce Transit bus downtown to catch a Sound Transit bus. When I go to Poulsbo with my son, I ride that Sound Transit bus up, catch a Washington State Ferry Across the Sound, and then ride a Kitsap Transit bus to Poulsbo.

    If you want to, you can hop your way through the interlocking web of transit systems to go places like Bellingham, Aberdeen, Forks, and beyond.

    truthbusterguy, I did some looking a while back and discovered that they only successful “private” transit systems were ones that were heavily subsidized by a public entity. They might as well put their money directly into a public transit system rather than subsidize some private company’s profits.

  6. Publico says:

    Just who in East Pierce would back a tax measure to pay for contracted transit service? Warning, idiots at large.

  7. alindasue says:

    “Just who in East Pierce would back a tax measure to pay for contracted transit service? Warning, idiots at large.”

    Who would vote for contracted transit service or starting their own transit service? People who want bus service that caters particularly to the needs of their community rather than being a distant arm off Pierce Transit.

    It’s very expensive to run service to Buckley out of Tacoma, but if they contract with a closer system, like Metro for instance, it might give them better service for less money. Another possibility would be for them to run their own local transit system catered to their own community and include a few stops that connect them to one or more other transit systems for more distant travel.

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