According to the Pierce County Beyond the Borders program, access to transportation helps makes healthy communities. This is why starting this month, Beyond the Borders is expanding into the Sumner and White River school districts with a pilot transportation program for low-income families.
“This came about as a collaboration between the Sumner and Bonney Lake Coalitions for Families and the White River Families First Coalition,” said Jerri Kelly, a transportation specialist with Beyond the Borders. “A need was identified for low-income families of students who were having difficulty accessing life-line and essential services in their communities.”
The program will allow residents of Sumner, Bonney Lake and Buckley to request rides to food banks, family support centers, medical centers and other destinations the program would determine as essential services.
The program can deliver residents anywhere in the Sumner and White River school district area, and even to the Plateau Outreach Ministries in Enumclaw.
Trips that require residents to leave the transportation area will be transported to the neatest bus stop connection.
While Kelly said the program was originally for families of the Sumner and White River school districts, it has expanded to include low-income residents and families, seniors, and persons with disabilities, whether or not they have a student in those school districts.
According to the school districts, 30 percent of White River School District students receive reduced-price or free meals, which is how the district tracks low-income families. Approximately 33 percent of Sumner School District students also receive reduced-price or free meals.
Residents can request up to three round-trip rides per month with the program, and the rides are free of charge.
To request a ride, residents can call 211 to ask for a referral. Once residents are approved, they can make ride reservations directly with the Beyond the Boarder program.
“Transportation is important for day to day necessities,” Kelly said. “Things like having food or medication or being able to get to school appoints for your children just makes healthier communities.”