Friday, June 19, 2009

Bad move by Pierce County Transit

I mentioned way back in one of my early posts that taking public transportation here in Tacoma is much tougher than back in Boston. My mom and sister, who returned yesterday to Cleveland and New York City, respectively, after their visits here, commented about the public transit difficulties they encountered when they tried to tour Seattle--ironic, since Seattle is generally considered a very green city.

I do quite a bit of traveling on the bus here in Tacoma, which can get me to many places I want to go. However, there is only one bus line in walking distance from my home, and it runs once an hour during the week, and not at all during weekends and holidays. So generally, if hubby has the car (which is most of the time), he drops me off at a mall that's a 10 minute drive from our home (but about an hour walk), where I can catch a bus that runs every 15 minutes, and delivers me to my job and many other key locations in Tacoma.

Yesterday, I took the bus that drops me near my home, and the driver told the passengers that Pierce County transit is planning to drop the line. This means that for a major section of my community, we would have NO public transportation service. This means I would NEVER be able to go anywhere without a car. My husband can still drop me at the mall 10 minutes away, but what if he's not available? (His job requires a lot of travel). Again, my neighborhood is ranked at 7% walkability by the Walkable Neighborhoods score, with only a school, a golf course/park and an apple orchard within two miles from my home. And don't suggest biking: I haven't owned a bike since I was 14, Tacoma is extremely hilly, and my neighborhood has neither sidewalks nor bike paths. So biking for me would not be safe.

The bus driver suggested calling Pierce County Transit to complain, which I will do. I hope it helps.


Update: I called Pierce Transit the next day to voice my opinion. The woman I spoke with was very sympathetic, but said that discontinuing this route and several others was a tough decision they had to make based upon the current state of the economy. She said there were several public meetings held last year (when we were newly arrived in Tacoma and knew very little about the local scene) at which people got to advocate for their routes, and they used the information the public provided to make their decisions.

She said something else, too--one of the reasons for her sympathy is that her kids go to school along that route, and she knows that without it there is no bus service in the area. I thought about that--this bus passes right by my town's only junior and senior high schools. When my nephews were still here, the one in elementary school caught a school bus, but my husband and I spent a month driving my older nephew to high school, because the bus ran so infrequently. So how can you discontinue a bus route that serves a municipality's only schools for this age range--thousands of young people too old for school buses, but who may not be old enough to drive, and might not have cars even if they could?

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