The summit opened with introductions, a description of the PCCTC, a list of existing programs and background about Pierce Transit. Walston and Reilly work on transportation issues at The Mustard Seed Project and are part of the PCCTC and KP partnership transportation committee, and provided background at the meeting about the joint effort.
The mission of the PCCTC is to develop and coordinate transportation services for people with limited transportation options in Pierce County, they said. A year ago, the PCCTC identified three focus areas: closing transportation gaps (geographic and demographic), closing awareness gaps (concentrating on policy makers and medical/social service programs about the need) and connecting the system (making it easier to connect as well as increasing awareness of users about what is available).
PCCTC decided to focus on the geographic areas of Bonney Lake/Sumner and the Key Peninsula. In preparation for the summit, the partnership surveyed the community. Nearly 200 people responded. Results from that survey revealed that most people drive themselves or get rides from friends and family, but 28 percent used community and public transportation. Thirty-seven percent were not always able to get where they needed to go, and 46 percent had missed an essential appointment, work or other activity because of a transportation challenge.
The summit participants broke up into small discussion groups to examine individual issues.
When the groups then came together to share their findings, a few themes emerged. One important conclusion was that truly versatile/accessible transportation is expensive (like calling Uber); lower cost transportation requires more organization. Also, although there are some community options in place on the Key Peninsula, more are needed and there are some opportunities that might be made available fairly quickly.
First, the group suggested that the School Bus Connects service might expand its route to go south of Evergreen Elementary School, so that the south end of the peninsula has better access.
Second, there is one Uber driver now on the Key Peninsula. Participants were interested in expanding such a transportation network company, developing a larger base of drivers and a call center for scheduling to find drivers instead of depending on a smartphone app, or to serve those without a smartphone.
Finally, Pierce Transit has two programs that could serve Key Peninsula residents: vanpool and vanshare. Many felt that residents could take advantage of those programs if they knew more about them.
Vanpool is a group of five to 15 people sharing the ride to work in a van. Pierce Transit has a fleet that includes 12- and 15-passenger vehicles and a limited number of minivans. These vans are assigned to approved groups and driven by volunteers making the same commute. Every vanpool group has a primary driver, backup driver and bookkeeper. Pierce Transit owns, maintains, manages, insures and licenses the fleet.
Vanshare is a service that bridges the gap for commuters who take the bus or train most of the way to work. It covers fuel, insurance, vehicle maintenance and reserved parking at a commuter station.
There is more information on vanpool and vanshare on the Pierce Transit website at www.piercetransit.org/getting-around/.
Walston and Reilly said the partnership transportation committee hopes to continue the work from the summit by providing a summary of findings on the partnership website at kphealthycommunity.org and via Facebook at www.facebook.com/KPPHC. The partnership hopes to encourage all interested residents to participate in planning, and to screen an edited version of a film recording of the summit in the near future.