It’s with a sigh of relief I’ve learned today that one program that truly helps people is being maintained as governmental budgets continue to be slashed. One big example is the “Beyond the Borders” shuttle service that has been a life-saver in South County as Pierce Transit has canceled bus service in Graham and Spanaway, with more contractions rumored to be coming.
Beyond the Borders is a kind of piggy-back service whereby pre-existing paratransit vans and cars are utilized to transport folks to the nearest active bus station or to local medical appointments, work, or grocery stores. If not for the BTB I’d be walking, as this service is how I get around. For those who may not know, Paratransit is an off-shoot of Medicare and other federal health care programs to help get folks to the doctor and clinic appointments.
Now, it seems the BTB is expanding into those areas that have lost bus lines, such as Spanaway and Roy, and features a new kind of service – the “BTB Connector,” which is a scheduled public transit service for people with disabiltiies or social needs.
As with most bureaucracies, BTB is a little tricky to deal with, so if you have any problems with the County phone numbers or questions about how best to get the services you need, give me a call. -BAS – (360) 832-6248.
Here’s the press release issued today from Pierce County:
Free special needs transportation expands in rural Pierce County
Community Connections is expanding special needs transportation in rural Pierce County. The “Beyond the Borders Connector,” a four-month pilot project, provides eligible riders with a link to services in rural communities. The transportation program is administered by Pierce County and serves seniors, individuals with disabilities, and people with low incomes. The new routes are available in Sumner/ Bonney Lake/Prairie Ridge, as well as, Spanaway/Roy/Yelm, and connect with Pierce and Sound Transit stops.
The Beyond the Borders (BTB) Connector offers eligible riders transportation to work, medical or social services appointments, the grocery store, and other destinations at no cost to the rider. To ride the Connector, residents must call 2-1-1 to register and then complete an eligibility screening.
“Implementing the Beyond the Borders pilot project offers our special needs community mobility and access to services,” said Corey Lew, manager of the Community Connections Housing and Community Development Division. “During this four-month window, we will measure the transportation needs of seniors, low-income residents and people with disabilities in rural Pierce County.”
In the past, BTB took riders from home to the nearest bus stop. The pilot project expands BTB to include five routes served by wheelchair lift-equipped 13-passenger buses. The buses have timed stops along the routes, but can also deviate from the routes to pick up individuals who need a lift-equipped trip, if they live within a half mile of the route. Five routes are currently running seven days a week in four geographic areas:
Bonney Lake and Prairie Ridge, with service to Rhododendron Park and Ponderosa Estates
- Sumner, with connection Pierce Transit and Sound Transit
- BonneyLake / Sumner circulator, connecting routes in the two cities and the two transits.
- The Roy Y, with connection to Pierce Transit at the Wal-Mart on Mt Highway, and to Yelm, with connection to Intercity Transit
- Spanaway, with connection to Pierce Transit at the Wal-Mart on Mountain Highway, and the South Hill Transit Center on Meridian
Community Connections contracts with Paratransit Services to coordinate eligibility screenings, drivers, and vehicles for the pilot project.
“We are very excited to be working with Pierce County and our ride providers to implement this new routed service in rural Pierce County,” said Christine Scheffer, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Paratransit Services. “We know that transportation is essential to connecting people to work, employment and life-sustaining services making a difference in people’s lives.”
More details about routes, stops and schedules are posted online at www.piercecountywa.org/cc. All riders must complete an eligibility screening to take advantage of the service. There is no restriction to the number of times a rider can use the Connector. For more information and to register, residents should call 2-1-1 or 1-800-572-4357
Addendum, March 8, 2013, 1 pm
The Pierce County website giving details on the new BTB Coonector service is very difficult to understand and navigate. Worse, the maps and scehdules are virtually unreadable. I have asked the county to send the Mountain News legible maps and I have offered to post them here. So far, I haven’t heard back.