Doris Jairala has been a faithful bus rider the past five years, taking the 53 route a few times a week to get to her housekeeping jobs.
Driving isn’t an option for the 62-year-old University Place resident. She suffers from seizures and isn’t allowed to get behind the wheel.
(To the left: Doris Jairala, of University Place, rides the Number 53 bus to her job as a housekeeper last month. The route will be eliminated in July as Pierce Transit reduces less-used routes such as hers. Joe Barrentine/The News Tribune)
So that means for her job, she hops on the bus to Lakewood, Steilacoom, UP and any other community in which her work takes her.
But she will be one of the thousands of riders who will have to find a new bus beginning July 12. Pierce Transit, squeezed by the economic downturn, opted to eliminate or reduce service on routes throughout the county that don’t have a high ridership.
The portion of the bus route that runs along Cirque Drive West in University Place will be gone.
In all, the changes equal about 300,000 individual trips that will be lost every year. The agency says it’s a relatively small chunk of the 15 million trips it services every year.
But for people such as Jairala, the reductions will make life tough. Instead of catching a bus outside her apartment complex on Cirque, she will have to walk to Bridgeport Way West for the nearest stop.
As a senior, the walk is difficult. “I don’t know what I’m going to do,” said Jairala, who caught the 7:45 a.m., bus today.
The cuts come as Pierce Transit recently installed a $35 million radio and computer communication system on its fleet. That money is tied to Pierce Transit’s capital expenses and doesn’t affect operations.
But don’t ask Jairala to be happy with it, not when her route is being eliminated.
“I think it’s a bunch of bull if you ask me,” she said. “They’ve got it in the paper, that they have all these fancy gadgets. How can they afford all that?”
Read more about this story later in the print edition of the News Tribune.