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2020 Annual Report

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Pierce Transit improves people’s quality of life by providing safe, reliable, innovative and useful transportation services that are locally based and regionally connected. Never has this been more apparent than in 2020, when the world was faced with an unparalleled challenge to every facet of daily life. With nearly all systems as we knew them grinding to a halt, Pierce Transit kept going. This is the story of how our agency moved forward to support our community, together.

sue-300x500When 2020 began, Pierce Transit, like so many other organizations, had a strong vision and strategy for how we would serve our community throughout the year. While things didn’t turn out as planned, I am happy to report that Pierce Transit was instrumental in keeping the economy moving in 2020 – and in new and unexpected ways.

As the pandemic unfolded, we were buoyed by the opportunity to provide the essential service of mobility to the people of Pierce County. Even at the height of the pandemic, we were providing more than 9,000 rides a day to people getting to essential destinations, and to essential workers getting to their jobs. This report details many of the ways Pierce Transit kept our community safely moving forward in 2020.

Despite COVID-19, Pierce Transit also continued planning on key projects, including our Bus Rapid Transit line that serves Tacoma to Spanaway, scheduled to open in 2024.

In 2021, as we move beyond COVID-19, we are restoring service lost during the pandemic and talking with the community about the level of service Pierce Transit may provide in future years.

Finally, I wanted to thank you for the opportunity to serve our community as Pierce Transit CEO. I am retiring in 2021 after a 30-year transit career. It has been one of my highest honors to serve in this role, and I wish Pierce Transit and Pierce County all the best in the years ahead.

Be well,

Sue Dreier
Pierce Transit CEO

 
 

Message from the Board Chair

mayor-woodardsThe role of public transportation in keeping our communities open, connected and accessible was made more apparent than ever as we all navigated the pandemic. It became apparent early on that transit was essential for getting our workers to their jobs, appointments, groceries and other necessary activities.

As the Chair of the Pierce Transit Board, I am so proud of the dedicated workers at this agency for their courage and grit to show up every day and provide the high-quality, safe transportation services our county deserves. As we look to the future, I am excited about the opportunities to increase access to all that our region has to offer.

Victoria Woodards
Board Chair
Tacoma Mayor

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Keeping Pierce County Moving – Safely

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Pierce Transit put everything it had into keeping the community, riders and employees safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. In March 2020, the agency began a series of aggressive measures to ensure a safe ride:

  • Disinfecting buses several times a day
  • Marking off seats for distancing
  • Installing bus driver barriers
  • Screening employees for illness
  • Upgrading building air filters to hospital grade
  • Eliminating fares and boarding from the back to keep operators and customers distanced
  • Holding transit center mask giveaways
  • Distributing masks on every passenger vehicle

Supporting our Community During COVID

Rides for Essential Workers

Because of pandemic-related impacts, Pierce Transit joined other agencies worldwide in reducing service levels in early 2020. In an effort to assist transit-dependent essential workers whose regular bus service was temporarily suspended, we offered a special reservation-based service to help those individuals get to work and keep our economy moving.

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Shadow Buses

To ensure social distancing on board vehicles, we added “shadow service." Empty buses were dispatched when buses in route reached capacity so that passengers waiting at subsequent stops could still make their trip.

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Wi-Fi Buses for Students

Pierce Transit collaborated with Pierce County Emergency Management and local school districts to provide a bus in Lakewood and Spanaway, the areas of greatest need, to act as Wi-Fi hotspots. Families were able to park near these buses and students logged on to interact with teachers, conduct research and download and submit assignments. Family members also used this resource to participate in virtual meetings and attend important online appointments. The Wi-Fi buses were available from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays from April through May 2020.

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Giving Back to the Community

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Pierce Transit employees went the extra mile for our neighbors in 2020 through our Good to Give Committee, conducting food drives, Adopt-a-Street litter clean-up, packing food at Emergency Food Network and tending gardens at Mother Earth Farm to grow food for neighbors in need.

In 2020, the Good to Give Committee jumped in to help with 11 events, donating a total of 2,145 volunteer hours.









 


 

Are You Ready to Stream?

streamOur Bus Rapid Transit project planning and community outreach teams made great progress in 2020. The Board of Commissioners selected the name Stream for the overall BRT system, and approved the preferred station design and lane treatments for our first line. We also contacted property owners along the 14.4-mile route regarding potential impacts. Our Sales and Outreach Team quickly pivoted to take information-sharing virtual, meeting with business owners, public agency staff, neighborhood councils, service clubs and advocacy groups to update them on the project and encourage them to get involved. Our Virtual Open House in December had 115 attendees.


Our Commitment to Transit Equity

transit-equityFor many people in Pierce County, public transit shapes the path to a rewarding life. Equity has been a required component of publicly-funded transportation for many years. It is now time to move forward and see equity as an integral part of making Pierce Transit service better for all who ride.

To this end, Pierce Transit will engage in the intentional work needed to bring about more equitable options in our diverse communities. Research to determine areas of potential impact is underway, and the next year will provide many occasions for engagement on the topic. Community members, elected leaders, public organizations and businesses all play a role in planning equitable transit that better meets public needs.




 
 

Going Virtual

Transit app Campaign imagePierce Transit is committed to providing an informative and easy-to-use service, with the help of the latest technology.

For example, the agency partners with Transit app to provide passengers with the tools they need to ride while practicing safe physical distancing. Transit app features:

  • A map showing the real-time locations of buses along their route
  • A step-by-step navigator that enables riders to report current passenger loads on their trip
  • In-app predictions showing each vehicle’s load levels over the course of its route, depending on the time of day

Pierce Transit has also introduced a new online, regional Trip Planner with improved features:

  • Ability to see your bus in real time on a map
  • Option to pin ‘to’ and ‘from’ locations on a map rather than entering exact addresses
  • Ability to view and print bus schedules from your desktop browser
  • Lookup tool with preloaded destinations, including landmarks and businesses
  • Step-by-step tutorial

Pierce Transit also provides real-time bus information on screens at transit centers. Passengers at bus stops along their routes can call or text to find out when their bus will arrive. Finally, Pierce Transit offers customers the ability to pay their fares by phone through the Hopthru app.


Pierce Transit's Funding

pt-funding-chart051221In 2020, when the pandemic hit, Pierce Transit reduced service several times to better align spending with reduced revenue and decreased ridership.

The agency also cut costs by temporarily laying off or furloughing 10 percent of our workforce and spending only on critical items.

These moves, combined with some federal relief funds, helped Pierce Transit end 2020 on solid financial footing.


What's Next?

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In March 2021 Pierce Transit restored bus service to about 95 percent of pre-pandemic levels.

As our economy reopens and more people get back on transit, Pierce Transit will be here to get the people of Pierce County where they need to go.

The agency will also look to the future with continued planning for our Bus Rapid Transit line and other projects, such as the delivery of six new zero-emission buses in the spring.

 
 


Pierce Transit 2020 Board of Commissioners

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Click here for a list of 2021 Board Members.

If you would like more detailed facts and data, please see our Key Performance Indicators section.

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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.

Addresses

  • 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.)
  • 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 1000 Main instead of 1000 S Main. But type 1000 West Viewmont for 1000 West Viewmont Way W.)
  • Some streets and addresses are unknown to the Trip Planner. You may need to enter another nearby location, such as an intersection or a landmark.
  • You should not enter the suite number or apartment number.  Just the house number and street name (Example: type in 401 Broadway instead of 401 Broadway Avenue Suite 800).

Intersections

  • The "&" symbol is the only character used between two street names to show an intersection. (Examples: 1st & B, James & Madison)
  • You don't need to type in the city. 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 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.

Landmarks

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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