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2020 Report to The Community
DEAR COMMUNITY MEMBERS,
The year 2020 began with Pierce Transit celebrating its 40th year of service in our community. The rest of the year turned out to be something none of us could have expected. While the world was hunkering down, Pierce Transit needed to keep rolling, providing trips for essential workers and people who depend on public transit to get to medical appointments, grocery shopping, jobs and other critical destinations. Even at the height of the initial outbreak, Pierce Transit was still providing the residents of Pierce County with more than 9,000 rides each weekday, proving yet again that public transportation is an essential community service.
When the pandemic began, Pierce Transit acted quickly to keep our customers and employees safe. You’ll read more about those actions in this Report to the Community. We also acted swiftly to protect the agency’s finances, cutting back service to match demand, implementing furloughs, and putting many capital projects on hold.
We know people all across our service area have had a challenging year, especially in the service and hospitality industries. Our thoughts are with you as neighbors and friends. I am reminded, this year more than ever, of the gratitude I feel for Pierce Transit’s front-line employees. The 700-plus transit operators, supervisors, dispatchers, safety personnel, mechanics and facilities workers who report each day to act with perseverance and dedication. We are honored to be there for you, providing a safe ride to your destination. Together, we are #PierceCountyStrong!
Pierce Transit CEO
Pierce Transit – A National Safety Leader
In 2020, Pierce Transit earned the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) “Health and Safety Seal,” given to transit agencies committed to the highest levels of health and safety and the protection of riders and employees throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, in 2020 APTA awarded Pierce Transit its “Certificate of Merit” for Bus Safety, recognizing the agency as a top innovator in bus safety among midsized transit agencies across the nation.
Have You Ridden the Runner?
Meet the Pierce Transit Runner, a new kind of on-demand transportation service connecting the Tacoma waterfront with downtown, with transit connections at Commerce Street and Tacoma Dome Station. The Runner runs seven days a week, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., and costs the same as a bus fare. Its wheelchair-accessible vans are a great way to get to waterfront businesses, attractions and activities – car-free! Check out PierceTransit.org/Runner for more details and book your trip today.
Last spring most Pierce County schools moved to a virtual learning model, providing challenges for students without reliable Internet access.
In April, Pierce Transit stepped up to help by creating mobile Wi-Fi hot spots in Lakewood and South Pierce County in the form of two parked buses transmitting Wi-Fi around the bus. Students and their caregivers parked near the bus were able to get online and interact with teachers, upload or download assignments and complete their schoolwork.
Also in 2020, Pierce Transit continued working with school districts, colleges and universities to provide ORCA cards for students, including 7,900 Tacoma Public Schools students, some of whom are pictured below from our 2019 partnership kickoff.
Pierce Transit buses not only carry people to important destinations, they also serve as a resource during times of community need. After 40 years of serving Pierce County, we are still finding creative ways to be there for you!
*Photo taken pre-COVID
Essential Rides for Essential Workers
One of the things the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us is that transit is an essential service. During the height of the pandemic, Pierce Transit was still providing more than 9,000 rides each day. However, with reduced service, some transit-dependent essential workers were unable to use transit to get to work.
Protecting Our Employees and CustomersWhen we say the safety of our riders and employees is our top priority, we mean it. As soon as the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Pierce Transit implemented additional safety measures to keep our customers and employees safe.
When's the Next Bus Coming?
In 2020, Pierce Transit introduced Transit as the agency’s official mobility app. With Transit, riders can:
- Get step-by-step navigation.
- See nearby bus trip options and departure times.
- Track their bus in real-time.
- See how crowded the bus might be.
- Plan trips across multiple systems throughout Puget Sound.
- Text 253.533.7084 from their bus stop to see when the next bus will arrive.
- Use the Trip Planner at PierceTransit.org.
- Call Pierce Transit’s Customer Service team for help.
Pierce Transit is planning the South Sound’s first Bus Rapid Transit line between downtown Tacoma and Spanaway. BRT offers fast and frequent service; easier boarding; modern buses; and sheltered stations, rather than bus stops. The system is funded primarily through federal grants, bringing federal money back to our community. By 2020, this BRT line is expected to move 2.2 million riders a year.
In 2020, we selected “Stream” for the BRT system’s name and continued planning the line, reaching about 60 percent design. We also stepped up our community outreach, holding two online live-streaming public meetings, an online open house and briefing many groups and organizations. In 2021, we will begin some utility work, and begin construction in 2022. We expect to open the line in 2024.
It Feels Good to Give!Pierce Transit employees have always been generous members of our community, volunteering their personal time and donating to those most in need. As the pandemic hit our community hard in 2020, those efforts were even more important.
- 11 events
- 66 volunteers
- 2,145 volunteer hours
- $31,640 fiscal impact