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2016 Route Analysis:
Moving Forward

Pierce Transit spent most of 2016 conducting a comprehensive analysis of its existing bus service and gathering the public’s ideas for where Pierce Transit should prioritize transit investments. Of the responses received, the two most-requested improvements were increased frequency (having the bus arrive more often) and a longer span of service on weekdays.

Pierce Transit’s Board of Commissioners voted unanimously in favor of a restructured route network focused on efficiency. Under the new plan, riders will experience more frequent bus service, including 30-minute peak and mid-day service on all urban routes (except the Route 13), and more frequent service on many non-urban routes.

Riders will also benefit from having service later in the evening on weekdays, with nearly all urban routes and some non-urban routes having service until 10 p.m. The restructured system will also deliver more direct bus routes with faster service between locations, and fewer overlapping routes along the same path.

The service changes will be effective on March 12, 2017.

Routes with Disproportionate Burden on Minority Populations and/or Disparate Impact on Low-Income Populations

The table below outlines what routes are facing major changes relevant to Title VI and how Pierce Transit is working to mitigate the impacts. 14.3% of the population of Pierce Transit’s service area is considered low-income (at or below the Federal poverty level), while 35.3% is considered minority (non-white or of Hispanic origin). To learn more about Title VI visit our Public Documents page.

Route Description of Changes Mitigation
Lakewood / Tacoma
Shifted to serve South Tacoma Way corridor from Tacoma Mall Transit Center (TMTC) to SR-512 Park and Ride (P&R) Stops previously served by Route 3 will in most cases continue to be served by Routes 48 and 53
Pt. Defiance
East of N Proctor St, shifted to absorb most of Route 14 New route will mostly remain within 1/4 mile of existing Route 11; Peak and mid-day frequency improved to 30 minutes; Service extended to 10:00pm; Interlined with Route 41 for one-seat ride to Tacoma Dome Station
N. Proctor District
Absorbed by Route 11 between Proctor and Commerce Most stops will be served by Route 11
Portland Ave
New terminus of TMTC; Weekday frequency improved to 30 minutes mid-day; Service extended to 10:00pm Segment eliminated from Portland Ave between E 56th St and E 72nd St to be served by Route 54
Sheridan M St
Weekday frequency improved to 30 minutes mid-day; Service extended to 10:00pm Stops along Jefferson Ave and Steilacoom Blvd will be served by Route 3
Union Ave
Route eliminated due to low productivity Most stops currently served by Route 51 will continue to be served by Routes 206, 2, 53, 52, 57, 11, and 16, which will see improvements in span and/or frequency.
TCC Tac Mall
Appended to Route 55 Will create one-seat ride from TCC to Parkland TC; Extended to 10:00pm
University Place
East of S Tacoma Way, new routing to TMTC between S 66th St and S 48th St via S Oakes St; No service east of TMTC Peak and mid-day frequency improved to 30 minutes; Service extended to 10:00pm; Routes 1 and 54 fill coverage gap
38th St
Routing adjusted to serve more of S 38th St, Portland Ave corridors, 72nd St TC Peak and mid-day frequency improved to 30 minutes; Service extended to 10:00pm
56th St
Absorbed by Routes 41, 54 Stops previously served by Route 56 will be served by Routes 41 and 54 with improved span and frequency of service
S Tacoma Way
Route eliminated due to overlap with Route 3 and low productivity Gaps filled by shifting Routes 3, 48 and 53; GO Transit will provide access to JBLM via SR-512 P&R, Lakewood Towne Center

Tacoma News Tribune
Route redesign for Pierce Transit offers more bang for the buck

By Matt Driscoll - October 17, 2016

It’s like an episode of America’s Next Top Model, just for Pierce County’s bus service.

Two plans stand before us, but only one can be Pierce County’s mass transit future.

As ace News Tribune transportation reporter Adam Lynn reported Monday, months of work — including what Pierce Transit describes as a “a comprehensive analysis of its existing bus service” — have resulted in competing versions of what changes to the agency’s operations throughout the county may look like.

Now it’s up to us to weigh in, and the Pierce Transit board to ultimately decide in December.

With 35,000 additional service hours budgeted to go into action in March, Pierce Transit hired consultants from Nelson-Nygaard to come up with a plan for how it’ll all work, and how those hours will get added.

Perhaps for dramatic purposes, the consultants came up with two.

Only one is really worth considering.

The first plan is straightforward. As Pierce Transit service planning manager Peter Stackpole put it to me, it “basically took the existing (route) system and added 35,000 hours to that — what that would get us.”

The result is obviously an improvement, but not exactly a transformative one — especially when it comes to the two things that the Pierce Transit board and citizens, through a coordinated public outreach effort, have identified as top priorities.

They want more frequent service, and extended hours of bus service, which currently ends at 7 p.m. on most Pierce Transit routes.

Pierce Transit service planning manager Peter Stackpole on the potential of adding the additional 35,000 service hours to the existing route system

“We get some frequency improvements on some urban routes,” Stackpole explains of the first option, which would increase the frequency of several existing routes. “But it doesn’t give us enough to improve the span of service.”

To increase frequency and actually improve the span of service — which is transit speak for finding a way to run important buses later into the night — the consultants have recommended a redesign of Pierce Transit’s route system. This change would mean doing away with some underperforming routes (meaning low ridership), and consolidating some redundant ones.

Chris Karnes, the Tacoma chair of Pierce Transit’s Community Transportation Advisory Group, explains the restructure would “would simplify service and reduce route duplication in order to emphasize better peak and midday service frequency.”

“Instead of hourly service, half-hour headways would be available roughly between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. and service span with half-hour to hourly headways thereafter would be extended to 10 p.m. on practically all routes in urban portions of Pierce County,” Karnes writes on the Tacoma Transit blog.

It’s worth noting that such a route restructure will not come without its drawbacks for some. For folks who rely on a route that will get the axe — a number of routes that Pierce Transit spokeswoman Rebecca Japhet describes as “minimal” — it will take some adjustment. Stackpole says they may have to walk slightly further to catch a bus, or alter their schedules.

As Stackpole says, “Certainly there will be some people who are going to be negatively impacted. Those riders don’t just exist on paper, they’re real people.” He tells me Pierce Transit hopes to hear from those who may be impacted by the proposed changes at a series of upcoming public forums.

Still, he believes the overall increase in route frequency should go a long way toward alleviating these concerns. He’s hopeful the “alternatives that are provided will be far better.”

“It's huge,” Karnes tells me of the potential redesign. “There's a host of benefits to the restructure. Salishan gets direct access to the Tacoma Mall via 38th Street, and 38th Street (would have) a connection to Tacoma Dome. Yakima Avenue, which has seen a lot of new residential development, (would have) 15-minute service. South Tacoma Way is connected with UW Tacoma.

“Tacoma Community College students who take the bus will be able to take night classes again and get home. People who work at the Tacoma Mall will be able to use transit, even if they work an evening shift. It'll be possible to take local transit to get home after arriving on an evening 594 bus or Sounder,” he continues. “Today you simply can't do that.”

Putting the decision in these relatable terms is when the choice becomes crystal clear.

“I think that would be great,” says Benjamin Feldbush, vice president of legislation and records for TCC’s associated student body.

As a newly elected representative for TCC’s students, the 37-year-old Feldbush, who one day hopes to earn a PhD in sociology, says he routinely hears concerns from those taking night classes about the lack of transportation options.

Some night classes, he tells me, don’t get out until 10 p.m. — long after the buses stop running. To cope, many students are forced to walk or bike long distances, or schedule rides that can be unpredictable.

“I know students who are in a night class, and that’s their issue,” Feldbush says. “They don’t have transportation when they’re done.

“If they had later-running buses, it would make things a whole a lot better.”

It certainly would, for many.

Seattle Transit Blog
Things Are Looking Up for Pierce County Transit Riders


After a few years of steady but slow progress for Pierce Transit (PT), things are beginning to accelerate in a positive direction. After hemorrhaging service hours in the recession – with most routes cut to hourly service and span of service barely extending past dinnertime – PT is back with a bold new service proposal that restores a basic functioning grid of half-hourly service for most of Tacoma. It does so on the back of some route consolidation, reducing overall coverage, but while making remaining services far more useful. For a comprehensive review of the restructure proposal, check out Chris Karnes’ blog Tacoma Transit.

The two alternatives would use newly available service hours in one of two ways. Alternative 1 would bring the current network up to peak 30-minute headways while retaining hourly off-peak frequency and dismal span of service. Alternative 2 would bring most routes back up to 30-minute all day service, and extend span of service to 10pm. Route consolidation would be most strongly felt in Tacoma’s posh north end, including the Proctor District, where a spaghetti of hourly routes (10, 11, 13, 14, 16) would be consolidated into a half-hourly grid of Routes 10, 11, and 16. Service would also be rationalized in East Tacoma and along South Tacoma Way, straightening routes and better coordinating their schedules. If you are PT rider, you have 3 upcoming open houses to attend and make your voice heard.

In addition, PT recently announced a small $200k grant to partner with Uber, Lyft, and/or taxi companies to extend the reach of transit. The “Mobility on Demand Sandbox” grant from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) will allow Pierce Transit to:

Coordinate with Transportation Networking Companies and/or taxi companies to coordinate on-demand rides within certain areas though the use of app-based technology. The rides, funded by this grant, will get people to bus stops, select transit centers or Park & Rides, or – from select locations – to a rider’s final destination after Pierce Transit’s service hours.

In low-demand areas, fixed route transit sometimes just isn’t viable. This was shown with painful clarity by PT’s short-lived “Community Connector” program in Fife, Milton, and Edgewood, where Routes 503 and 504 averaged less than 1 rider per hour and costs per rider ranged from $100-$140 (page 24-25). If this new partnership succeeds, it would represent one of the better ways for transit and Uber-like services to partner for the common good. A partial or full subsidy of these rides would be an order of magnitude cheaper than the low frequency shuttles, and offer more convenient point-to-point service as well.

So things are looking up in Pierce County. By this time next year, let’s hope that they have a solid local bus network, an innovative on-demand partnership, and a successful Sound Transit 3 coming their way.

Tacoma News Tribune
Pierce Transit to roll out plans to increase bus service

BY ADAM LYNN - October 16, 2016

Pierce Transit will roll out proposals to substantially change some of its bus routes at three upcoming public meetings.

Riders and other interested people can get a look at the agency’s proposals:

  • Tuesday, 2:30-4:30 p.m., Wheelock Library, 3722 N. 26th St. in Tacoma. The site is served by bus routes 11, 16 and 51.
  • Wednesday, 6-8 p.m., Salishan Family Investment Center, 1724 E. 44th St. in Tacoma. The site is served by Route 41.
  • Oct. 25, 3-5 p.m., Pierce Transit Building 5, 3720 96th St. SW in Lakewood. The site is served by routes 48 and 300.

The agency, which operates buses throughout Pierce County and into parts of King County, has been analyzing its system and taking public suggestions for changes during the past few months.

“Of the nearly 1,000 responses received, the two most-requested improvements were increased frequency (having the bus arrive more often) and a longer span of service on weekdays,” Pierce Transit said.

Agency officials said they have heard that call and increased frequency and span of service on many routes.

Last month, Pierce Transit announced changes and expansion on 13 routes, including those along the Sixth Avenue-Pacific Avenue, South 19th Street-Bridgeport and Lakewood-South Hill lines.

Those changes are part of a plan to restore 59,000 service hours by the end of 2017. That would bring to 502,000 the hours of service the agency provides annually.

Pierce Transit provided 622,000 hours of service annually before the recession took hold and five cities left the agency's service area, drying up sales tax revenue and other sources of funding.

Planned System Map

interactive map

Use this map viewer to see an overview of the adopted System Map.

  • Click on a specific route for its identification information and its weekday span and frequency schedule.
  • Zoom in for a detailed look at the proposed routes to compare them to the current routes. At this level, the black dashed lines represent the sections of current routes that will be eliminated.
  • The black dots represent proposed bus stops.

The routes and bus stops are currently undergoing review with Pierce Transit to operate safely along the routes, and there may be changes to the displayed information when implemented in March 2017.

For an interactive map click here.

Want a better idea of how these changes might impact your trip?

The graphics break it down:

Click for enlarged route analysis of north tacoma

East Tacoma

Click to enlarge for North Tacoma

North Tacoma

Click to enlarge map of Lakewood


© 2017 Pierce Transit, All Rights Reserved. Site Design and Development by SiteCrafting.

Trip Planner Help

Trip Planner Tips - Entering Locations

To create a trip plan you need to enter both a starting location (origin) and an ending location (destination). For information about stops, schedules, or service at a specific location, you only need to enter one location.

The Trip Planner recognizes most street intersections and addresses as well as many landmarks in Pierce, King, and Snohomish Counties. If what you entered is not immediately recognized, the Trip Planner will offer you a list of options. You can choose one of the options, but if your intended location is not there, select the "Revise Original Entries" link to return to the entry page and change the entries you have already made.


  • You don't need to type in the city along with the address. The Trip Planner shows the possible city names as options if needed. City names are based on zip codes.
  • You don't need to type in St., Street, Ave., or Avenue, or similar street types. The Trip Planner shows the possible alternatives as options if needed. (Example: type 110 Jones instead of 110 Jones Boulevard.)
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  • You don't need to type in St., Street, Ave., or Avenue, or similar street types. The Trip Planner shows the possible alternatives as options if needed. (Example: type Conifer & Jones instead of Conifer Circle & Jones Boulevard.)
  • You don't need to type in the directional designations for streets, but if a direction name is part of a street name, you should include it. (Example: type 3rd & Main instead of 3rd S & S Main. But type 34th & West Viewmont for 34th W & West Viewmont Way W.)
  • Some streets are unknown to the Trip Planner. You may need to enter another nearby intersection or a landmark.


Government Sites: Pierce County Health Dept, Pierce Co Sheriffs Office, Tacoma City Hall

Major Commercial Sites: Tacoma Mall, Sheraton Hotel

Transportation Facilities: Sea-Tac Airport, Greyhound Bus Depot

Schools & Colleges: Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma Community College

Sports & Leisure: Cheney Stadium, Pt Defiance Zoo

Medical Facilities: Group Health, Tacoma General Hospital


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