Pierce Transit riders brace for major cuts this fall

TACOMA, Wash. -- Pierce Transit is making moves to prevent some major cuts, but it's still going to be painful for people who rely on the bus.

Right now, Pierce Transit buses run 417,000 hours a year, but by the end of September, that will drop to 300,000 hours -- a decrease in service of 28 percent.

Up until a few weeks ago, the cuts amounted to 34 percent, but several cost-saving measures were put in place and $6 million in federal grant money was received.

It was enough to keep some weekend service, but it'll be much less than before. Also cut is weeknight service after 7 p.m.

"I don't think it's fair for the people that work at night," said Penelope Adams.

Kathy Cox depends on the bus in Lakewood for everything she does.

"Weekends are bad because we do go out on the weekends," Cox said. "We go shopping."

But the voters narrowly turned down Proposition 1 last November, which would have raised the sales tax. State lawmakers are looking at a bill right now that would allow Pierce Transit to target areas where voters would likely approve a tax hike.

"That could present some new funding opportunities for us," said Lars Erickson with Pierce Transit. "But would take the legislature taking action and then potentially voters."

For people like Juanita Heavey, the cuts mean she'll be home-bound more -- especially Sunday morning trying to get to church.

"I love to go and it just means I have to stay home," she said. "I like to get out and it's hard on me."

But unless something drastic happens, come Sept. 29, a lot of buses in the bus yard are just going to sit and stay idle on nights and weekends.