Pierce County Transit to vote on bus cuts Monday

On Monday, the Pierce County Transit Board will vote on proposal to cut nearly every bus route in the system.

The cuts will reduce services by 28 percent, and would be effective Sept. 28.

The bus is a lifeline for those who don't own a car, especially for parents like Mary Hernandez-Alvarez, with two young kids at home.

"I was supposed to run to the Safeway to get my daughter milk cuz we ran out," Hernandez-Alvarez said.

Busses will come less often, maybe not as late into the evening, and in some cases--not at all.

It is essential for Rosemary Crump.

She's ridden Pierce Transit busses for 30 years.

"I use it for grocery shopping. I use it for doctors' offices, doctors appointments," she said. "With the cuts that they're doing. It's gonna jeopardize a lot of peoples' jobs and a lot of peoples' activities."

Pierce Transit managers say it's boils down to a basic cash-flow crisis.

"We feel the pain just as much as they do," Carol Mitchell said.

Sales tax pays for 70 percent of operations---and sales tax collections are down.

Voters in November rejected a proposed sales tax increase to pay for bus service.

"It's not easy to make adjustments to routes when you know it's going to have an effect on people's lives. Transit is an essential service," Mitchell said.

The state legislature could step in and help by changing the way Pierce Transit pays for itself.

Raising fares is not on the table.

And the agency says it's already cut plenty of fat: $111-million dollars and 84 positions--10 percent of its workforce in order to save $6 million.

"If they could get an income coming in, from some source or another, that'd be great," Crump said.

There's opportunity for more public comment at Monday's board meeting at 4 p.m.