Puyallup Connector starts this weekend

Two 25-foot long vehicles will shuttle passengers to medical centers, recreation and shopping

Staff writerJune 4, 2014 

Pierce Transit will start its one-year demonstration of the Puyallup Connector Route 425 service this Sunday — an innovative service solution that was started by a group of Puyallup stakeholders last fall and put into motion by an approval of more than $30,000 from the Pierce Transit Board of Commissioners.

The Puyallup Connector is the fourth demonstration project approved by the board.

“Citizens who lack reliable transportation now have a quick, reliable and affordable means to reach the destinations necessary in their daily lives,” said Steve Vermillion, Puyallup council member and vice chair of the board. “With sustained ridership, the opportunity will be available to add routes, giving our citizens more choices in destinations they desire to reach.”

Beginning at 10 a.m. this Saturday at the Puyallup Farmers’ Market in Pioneer Park, representatives from Pierce Transit and the city of Puyallup will host a ribbon cutting and grand unveiling of the Puyallup Connector Route 425. Puyallup Mayor John Knutsen will speak, as will Vermillion and Pierce Transit CEO Lynne Griffith.

Shelly Schlumpf, president and CEO of the Puyallup-Sumner Chamber of Commerce, will lead the ribbon cutting ceremony beginning at 10:15 a.m.

The ceremony will be located between the Pioneer Park Pavilion and the Puyallup Public Library.

Carol Mitchell, a spokesperson for Pierce Transit, said up to 17 people on a first-come, first-serve basis will be invited to take a one-hour tour of the route aboard one of two 25-foot long vehicles.

Artwork and graphics that will wrap the vehicles, Mitchell said, will reflect the history of Puyallup.

“It will be a very cool vehicle,” Mitchell said.

The connector will provide connections to existing Pierce Transit routes 400, 402, 409, 410, 495 and 503.

From this Sunday through Sept. 27, the frequency of service at select destinations will be every 30 minutes between the hours of 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. On Thursdays during this four month period, hours of operation will extend until 9 p.m. to accommodate concerts in Pioneer Park. On Saturdays, hours of operation will start at 9 a.m. to accommodate the Puyallup Farmers’ Market and other downtown activities.

Beginning Sept. 28 through June 6 of next year when the demonstration will conclude, hours of operation will be from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Sunday.

Select destinations for pick-up and drop-off will be the Puyallup Sound Transit Station, the Puyallup Public Library, MultiCare Good Samaritan Hospital, Puyallup City Hall, Wildwood Park, the Senior Housing Assistance Group, Group Health Medical Center, and the Mel Korum YMCA.

Fares are $2 for adults, 75 cents for youth 18 and younger and 75 cents for discounted card holders.

Tina Lee, Pierce Transit’s service innovation administrator, said the agency’s goal for the connector service from June through November is to reach 10 passengers per service hour.

“Then, our goal is to grow ridership to 15 passengers per service hour for the second half of the demonstration period from December through June 2015,” Lee said. “We also established a cost recovery and net cost per passenger goal, which we also hope to grow through the demonstration. We are going to track this weekly for the first eight weeks of the demonstration, then start reporting and monitoring on a monthly basis.”

Mitchell said if goals are met or exceeded during the demonstration period, then the Pierce Transit Board of Commissioners will have reason to continue the service.

Vermillion said the public shouldn’t get too caught up in the numbers.

“Pierce Transit certainly expects peaks and valleys in ridership, depending on weather and community events,” Vermillion explained. “I would encourage citizens to use the connector service to meet their needs rather than worrying whether or not the ridership numbers are achieving the desired goals. The Pierce Transit staff will work closely with the community to make interim tweaks in routing and/or destinations to work toward meeting the desired ridership levels.”

To learn more

For a route map and more information about the Puyallup Connector, visit Pierce Transit’s website at www.piercetransit.org/puyallup/.

Andrew Fickes: 253-552-7001 andrew.fickes @puyallupherald.com Twitter: @herald_andrew

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