Pierce Transit changes leaving vulnerable residents in the cold

SEATTLE -- Later this month, a disabled mobility program called SHUTTLE will stop running in several Pierce County neighborhoods, leaving some of the county's most vulnerable residents with no way to leave their homes.

A broken back has kept Greg Hornick off his feet for the last six years. His already limited mobility will soon take another hit when SHUTTLE stops serving his neighborhood.

Earlier this year, Hornick's South Hill neighborhood was part of unincorporated Pierce County that backed out of Pierce Transit coverage to save money money on tax bills.

"They're only looking at money. Let's look at the other side of the coin," Hornick said.

For Hornick, the 75-cent bus rides are his lifeline to the rest of the world.

"That's my only way of getting out of here," he said. "To go shopping, to go get my meds, to go to the doctors."

Pierce Transit officials say they're stuck.

"It's been a very difficult process for Pierce Transit. This wouldn't be what we would desire," said Pierce Transit CEO Lynne Griffith.

Griffith said buses and shuttles can't go to cities that aren't part of Pierce Transit

"It's not because of the budget that we're cutting," she said.

Whatever the reason, Hornick will soon be in a difficult situation. Instead of door-to-door service, he'll have to take sidewalks for more than a mile and half to catch a shuttle.

"It's going to be rainy weather pretty soon. That's going to be a problem," he said.

Pierce Transit is pushing for a tax increase this fall, but even that won't help the Shuttle situation for people like Hornick. The service won't expand to areas such as Sumner, Orting, Buckley, Bonney Lake and DuPont because those areas opted out of Pierce Transit.