Pierce Transit extended the Beyond the Borders Connector in Sumner and on the Spanaway-South Hill route through 2015.
Ridership influenced the decision to keep the routes. More than 1,750 people rode the Sumner route during the trial period, which ended Sept. 30. Almost 1,500 rode on the Spanaway-South Hill route during the same time.
“We’ve worked hard to build that ridership,” Sumner Mayor Dave Enslow said.
The city worked to inform everyone about the service, he added.
The route is “filling a hole that we needed filling,” Enslow said.
At the program’s inception, Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy said, “A program like this is a way in which we can meet a need in the community.”
The canceled routes had less than half as many riders.
Canceled routes include the Bonney Lake Circular, Bonney Lake-Sumner Express and Spanaway-Yelm Circular.
The trial period was from March through September.
“We’re going to stretch our money to keep these routes,” said Scott Kinney, special adviser for Pierce County.
Although Pierce Transit kept the routes, it did cut the hours. Each route has been cut to six stops at each location a day – three in the morning and three in the afternoon. It is now limited to weekdays.
The transit agency sent a letter to riders to inform them of the decision in early September.
The letter also informed of the Demand Response service in rural Pierce County. Those who need transportation to dialysis, employment-related classes or transportation for work-related trips are eligible.
The buses also can pick up people up to half-mile away from the set routes. Only two deviations can fit in the time allotted for each route, though.
If a rider needs a deviation from the route, he or she must place a reservation at least a day in advance.
To check eligibility for a bus route, call 2-1-1 or 1-800-572-4375.Jesse Major is a freelance reporter for the Herald.