Public comment period begins for Puyallup connector service

Transportation: Based on community feedback, an innovative shuttle service demonstration project could begin June 2014

of the HeraldDecember 18, 2013 

The Pierce Transit Board of Directors has approved more than $30,000 for public outreach and design on a proposed demonstration community connector service that would start in Puyallup next June.

The proposed year-long project would conclude in June 2015, and it’s just one of several tailored service solutions Pierce Transit plans to roll out.

“In July 2013, our board set the agency on a new course with a new business philosophy, and that philosophy focused on innovation and tailored solutions,” said Carol Mitchell, a spokesperson for Pierce Transit.

The agency’s board is anticipating a 3 percent increase in revenue next year, and 70 percent would come from local sales tax. Pierce Transit provided 417,000 service hours in 2013.

Mitchell said a 3 percent increase would be equivalent to about 12,000 service hours.

“Based on an increase in service hours, those hours are being dedicated to demonstration projects like the one in Puyallup,” she said.

A community investment team began the discussions in September of what the community connector service would like in Puyallup. The team included representatives from the City of Puyallup, MultiCare Good Samaritan Hospital, Puyallup Main Street Association, Puyallup-Sumner Chamber of Commerce, Puyallup Senior Center, Pierce College, Washington State Fair, Senior Housing Assistance Group and the South Hill Mall.

The first four months of the Puyallup Community Connector, from June 8 through Sept. 27, will include seasonal hours in addition to its regular daily operation from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. On Thursdays, for example, the service, which will span from South Hill to downtown Puyallup, will be available until 9 p.m. in order to accommodate events like Concerts at Pioneer Park.

Additionally, Saturday service will begin at 9 a.m. to accommodate the Puyallup Farmers’ Market and other downtown activities.

From Sept. 28 through June 6, 2015, the service hours are expected to be from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.

Steve Vermillion, a Puyallup City Council member who sits on the Pierce Transit board, was part of the community investment team. He said those who live in Puyallup will have an opportunity to share feedback during several public meetings between now and the end of February to help shape the design of the demonstration project.

“I’ve encouraged Pierce Transit in their surveys and public hearings to include me as a point of contact,” Vermillion said. “I’m here as both a Pierce Transit board member and a city council rep. I can always sit down with a small group of people, do a quick slideshow.”

Vermillion said he would like to establish a $1 adult fare for the first six months to entice ridership. Under Federal Transit Administration guidelines, special rates cannot be established other than for six-month test windows.

“If we find ridership really increases at $1 fare, then we will be looking at it ahead of time and asking how we would like to create an offset between the $1 and $2 fare,” Vermillion said.

Shuttles will be 25 feet long and wrapped with a colorful graphic that depicts Puyallup landmarks, such as the clock tower or other downtown locales.

Following the public-outreach period, Pierce Transit’s business development office will go to the board with an established design, based on public comments. The board is expected to approve the design in March.

To Learn More

Steve Vermillion, a Puyallup City Council member and Pierce Transit board member, can be reached at 253-906-2938 for more information about the Puyallup Community Connector Demonstration Project.

Reporter Andrew Fickes can be reached at 253-552-7001 or by email at andrew.fickes@puyallupherald.com. Follow him on Twitter, @herald_andrew.

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