The mayors of Bonney Lake and Sumner are working together in an attempt to save the bus route that connects the former’s park and ride lot with the latter’s Sounder station.
Pierce Transit route 496, which runs seven in the morning and seven in the evening from the lot to the train, is scheduled to stop running June 8 as part of budget-cutting measures passed by the Pierce Transit board.
But the mayors of both cities are doing everything they can to keep the bus running up and down the Elhi Hill.
“I’m working very hard to save the 496,” Sumner Mayor Dave Enslow said Friday.
One idea being discussed is the city of Bonney Lake taking over responsibility for maintenance of the lot, something Bonney Lake Mayor Neil Johnson seemed open to.
“I think that’s a great solution,” Johnson said Thursday, adding that he has received more emails regarding the closure of Route 496 than the loss of all other transit service.
“There’s over 200 people that ride that train every morning from the Plateau area,” he said. “It’s really important we keep it.”
Enslow, who also serves on the Sound Transit Board of Directors, said many people on the Plateau use the Sounder to get to work and depend on that bus route because of a lack of parking in Sumner, whose lots reach their capacity almost every day.
“I feel a real burden to people who … want to get to that train to make their commute,” Enslow said. “It’s the right thing to do to make sure those guys get to work.”
Enslow, who proposed the idea to both Johnson and Sound Transit said it was presently being discussed at the board level.
“Bonney Lake would get a lot of the benefits of ownership without having to buy it,” he said of the lot, which the city would still be able to use for staging events, such as Beautify Bonney Lake, which uses the lot every September.
Enslow called the 496 “unique” because it is a route that operates outside of Pierce Transit’s newly redesigned boundaries, but connects with other regional transit, putting it in a no man’s land for service providers.
Enslow also said any decisions made would come from the Sound Transit Board, but he was hopeful he would succeed for the benefit of both cities.
Johnson said he was pleased to hear that Sound Transit might be interested in working to keep the route operational.
“It sounds like they’re open to ideas,” he said.