Route 596 between Bonney Lake and Sumner made official

It’s official: The bus between the Bonney Lake Park and Ride lot and the Sumner Sounder station will keep on rolling.

First announced last week, the Sound Transit board on Thursday unanimously approved a plan to create a new Sound Transit route to replace Pierce Transit route 496, which will be discontinued June 8.

The new service, ST Express Route 596, begins operation June 11.

The new route was championed by Sumner Mayor Dave Enslow, who serves on the Sound Transit board of directors, and County Executive Pat McCarthy, who serves as chair of the board.

“I am pleased that the Board has approved funding for this critical feeder service,” Enslow said in a press release. “This is a great solution for everyone. Commuters get a convenient connection to excellent regional bus and train service while Sumner avoids getting more cars trying to park in lots that are already over capacity. And, we all benefit from a few hundred cars remaining off our freeways every day.”

According to the press release from Sound Transit, the route serves 290 boardings each day and will be timed to meet morning and afternoon Sounder trains.

“We are thrilled by the Board’s action to save this much-needed connector service for Sounder riders from Bonney Lake, Buckley and Enumclaw,” McCarthy said in the release. “Thanks to Mayor Enslow’s leadership and initiative, we have created a win/win solution that will benefit Pierce County residents who use Sounder every day to commute throughout the region.”

The board’s action amends the Adopted 2012 ST Express Transit Operations budget from $102,308,773 to $102,561,773. The $253,000 amendment will fund the operation of ST Express Route 596 through December 2012. Service and bus maintenance costs in future years would be built into the Service Implementation Plan and annual budgeting process. Service and bus maintenance costs will be funded from unused Pierce County subarea capacity.

ST Express Route 596 resurrects a previously operated connector bus route that voters approved in the 1996 Sound Move ballot measure. Known as ST Express Route 582, that service operated between Bonney Lake and Tacoma. It was gradually phased out when Pierce Transit began operating Route 496 service in 2007.

Bonney Lake Mayor Neil Johnson said he reminded McCarthy earlier this year about the origin of the route and is excited to see it continue.

“It’s something we’ve been working on,” Johnson said, calling Enslow a “great help.”

“It’s a great deal for Bonney Lake,” he said.

Under the agreement, Bonney Lake will take over operations and maintenance of the Park and Ride lot, something that will be formerly worked out during meetings this week with Sound Transit.

“I’m glad we’re able to come up with a solution… and keep a very popular route going,” Johnson said.