Transportation grant will provide more public transit

NORTH BEND - If you supply the transportation, they will ride.

That's the philosophy Ruth Tolmasoff is placing on a new two-year demonstration program that will find North Bend residents with one more option for public transportation.

Tolmasoff, who oversees operations at the Mount Si Senior Center, played a key role in securing the $232,000 grant that will bring a smaller King County Metro Transit bus to the area to serve those residents without transportation. While the bus - essentially a larger van that is wheelchair accessible - will work in conjunction with the two other senior center vans and be based out of the site, Tolmasoff said the service will be open to all residents.

What Tolmasoff is trying to establish with the program is a reliable mode of transportation that over the two-year period will build up a solid clientele. If that happens, Tolmasoff said, Metro would need to take notice.

"We feel like this is an opportunity to show Metro that [North Bend residents] would use [Dial-A-Ride Transportation] if we had it," said Tolmasoff.

According to Sandy Stutey, supervisor of accessible services for King County Metro, the success of the program could result in more Dial-A-Ride-Transportation (DART) service - the kind in which users schedule service times on an individual basis - but it would take a serious increase in ridership throughout the entire Valley to result in an increase in daily bus routes. She added that Metro was supportive of a possible increase in DART service if supported by the community.

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