Transit gaps look to remain

Council offers little support for additional service to replace Pierce's cuts
Council offers little support for additional service to replace Pierce's cuts The Olympian

OLYMPIA - A majority of the Olympia City Council prefers that Intercity Transit not expand its Olympia Express service to Pierce County to make up for coming service cuts from Pierce Transit along the same corridor.

The council didn’t take a vote Tuesday night, but council members mostly expressed their preference that service not be expanded. If it is, council members said, it should be expanded in a minor way to fill service gaps. Even then, council members said that expansion should be first to be cut if necessary.

The Intercity Transit Authority is expected to decide tonight whether to expand the service. The board will meet at 5:30 p.m. at its headquarters, 526 Pattison St. S.E.

Pierce Transit plans to reduce service from 16 one-way trips each weekday to eight, starting June 12. The cut is due to declining sales-tax revenues during the economic downturn and the defeat of the Pierce agency’s February sales-tax ballot measure that would have raised sales taxes 0.3 percent.

Intercity Transit now makes 32 daily express trips on the corridor to Pierce’s 16 trips, for a total of 48.

Intercity Transit is considering three alternatives – the first of which the council endorsed, the second of which it would grudgingly support.

 • Option one would maintain existing Intercity Transit service but adjust some schedules and change some route numbers at an estimated cost of $12,644 per year.

 • Option two would add two express trips in each direction to address service gaps in addition to the first option, at an estimated cost of $153,531 per year.

 • Option three would replace all eight trips that Pierce Transit will eliminate at an estimated cost of $393,762 per year.

Nobody spoke in favor of Option three. Councilman Stephen Buxbaum said it’s “somewhat of a stretch.”

Councilman Steve Langer said, “I definitely support Option two, where we would pick up some of this. We’re doing this for our own ridership.”

He said that he saw this “as a stopgap measure right now rather than as a permanent change.”

Councilwoman Rhenda Strub said she favored the first option.

“I do not understand why the Pierce County voters said they do not support mass transit,” she said.

Council members Jeannie Roe, Craig Ottavelli and Mayor Doug Mah also said they preferred the first option. Councilwoman Karen Rogers, who sits on the Intercity Transit board, said she would accept the second option at the most.

Matt Batcheldor: 360-704-6869 mbatcheldor@theolympian.com