Sumner citizens hear from South Transit manager

The public had the chance to speak with representatives of Sound Transit at an open house Thursday at Sumner City Hall.

The public had the chance to speak with representatives of Sound Transit at an open house Thursday at Sumner City Hall.

Mike Bergman, Sound Transit manager of service planning and development, said the once-rising gas prices and the current economic state led to more commuters using public transportation and service is being increased to accommodate the demand, which was up 21 percent from the same period in 2007.

Voters approved Proposition 1 in November, calling for more light rail, commuter rail and bus service.

In the wake of the proposition’s passing, 36 miles of light rail are being added to the system between downtown Seattle and Sea-Tac Airport, with other extensions planned. Commuter train service is also receiving improvements between Lakewood and Seattle and there is to be a 17 percent increase in Sound Transit Express bus service.

Initially improvements are planned during existing routes during off-peak times, with new buses being delivered and new services added during high-demand periods on weekdays.

Bergman said the changes in service will start June 1.

New bus routes include Route 578, called “Sounder Shadow,” which provides service in the early evenings from downtown Seattle to the Federal Way Transit Center and the Auburn, Puyallup and Sumner stations.

Changes expected in February 2010 include a new boarding location for Route 564, which would then be boarded in Puyallup or Sumner with a transfer to express bus service at Kent Station.

Bergman said this should alleviate traffic congestion on state Route 17.

To alleviate parking problems, park-and-ride capacity will be expanded in Puyallup and Sumner starting in February 2010.

Bergman said commuters using satellite parking – leaving their vehicles at a park-and-ride lot and being shuttled to the station – will help improve transportation in the future.

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