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MESSAGE FROM THE CEO
New and Improved
Pierce Transit Runner Zones
Pierce Transit's on-demand, first and last mile connection service is now active in three areas: along Ruston Way from the Town of Ruston into downtown Tacoma, at specific locations into and on Joint Base Lewis-McChord (for riders with military and DoD identification), and throughout the Tideflats area. For people who live in areas with limited bus service, Runner provides a connection to other transit services, as well as point-to-point trips within some zones, all at the same fare as a regular Pierce Transit bus trip.
We are also planning a Runner service for early 2022 around Spanaway, Parkland and Midland to help people access regular bus services. Watch this website for updates.
Pierce Transit recently completed renovations at the Commerce Street Station, our major transit hub and bus turnaround facility in downtown Tacoma. The project included upgrading the HVAC system, replacing lighting with efficient LEDs, updating the interior break room for transit operators and redesigning the Theater Square public plaza above to allow more flexible community use. In addition, in cooperation with the City of Tacoma, we transformed our recently decommissioned Commerce Street "Waterwall" fountain and active pedestrian ramp into Mini-Tahoma, an immersive installation by local Tacoma artist RYAN! Feddersen with the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation. These renovations, along with the Waterwall art installation, represent steps Pierce Transit is taking to reinvigorate this important transit and cultural hub located in the heart of Tacoma. The work is informed by TRANSFORM, a planning project funded by the National Endowment for the Arts that worked with the community to improve the design, function, and programming of public spaces and streets in the Theater District.
Bus Rapid Transit
Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is an innovative, high-capacity, fast transportation option that combines the speed and feel of light rail with the flexibility, lower cost and simplicity of a bus system. Think of it as “light rail on wheels.” It is a powerful equity tool for communities it serves, as the primary beneficiaries are those who do not own a car, cannot operate a vehicle and/or face another barrier to private transportation ownership.
Pierce Transit’s BRT line will run 14.4 miles along Pacific Avenue/SR-7 between Tacoma and Spanaway. Many people along this corridor have lower incomes, experience higher unemployment and are almost twice as transit-dependent than the Pierce County average. This new transit option will serve the corridor’s equity communities well.
Pierce Transit's Route 1 currently serves the BRT corridor, which has traditionally had the highest ridership of any Pierce Transit route. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, there were nearly 3,500 boardings each weekday along the BRT portion of Route 1. This project is expected to deliver at least $170 million in state and federal grants, including $60 million in Sound Transit 3 investments, to the Pierce County economy. The Biden Administration includes the federal match, $75 million, in the 2022 Presidential Budget. The construction phase of the project could get underway as early as 2022, with expected completion in 2025 if the project achieves full funding.
In 2021, our agency continued to work closely with the community to get ready for BRT. Pierce Transit staff conducted outreach activities including door-to-door conversations, community meetings, and an online Open House. The BRT Team held community stakeholder meetings, worked with partners to plan utility relocations and get closer to our 60 percent design milestone, and started an expansion study to look at future BRT routes.
In 2021, Pierce Transit's Board of Commissioners selected the name "Stream" for Pierce Transit's entire BRT system, including this BRT line and future lines. Pierce County's own MultiCare is the sponsor of this first BRT line and will have naming rights for the line and several stations along it.
It Feels “Good To Give!”
Pierce Transit's "Good to Give" Committee, which manages the agency's charitable giving, continued to support our community in 2021 by showing up for our neighbors and kids in need. The committee continued its robust partnership with Emergency Food Network, gathering quarterly for the famous "Repack." Employees repacked nearly 50,000 pounds of macaroni, oats and other dried goods over the course of a year, which was sent off to food banks throughout the county.
Pierce Transit was also the first local organization to pilot the virtual food drive, as well as host an ongoing nut and protein food drive to help our neighbors. Pierce Transit once again participated in the annual "Stuff the Bus Campaign" hosted by Communities in Schools and entered a friendly competition with the Pierce County Council to spur competition and boost giving. We look forward to doing so again in 2022! Finally, the annual United Way Workplace Giving Campaign was a success, raising more than $26,000 in support of the lifeline services United Way deploys to our community every day. Pierce Transit is proud of this 20-year partnership!
Pierce Transit recognizes that transportation solutions go beyond our fixed route bus service and vanpool. The Community Van program offers passenger vans to community organizations and businesses to provide transportation to clients and customers.
These vans are provided for $1.07 per mile, and are owned and maintained by Pierce Transit, with fuel included. Our first partner this year was Children's Life Inc., a program based in Hilltop.
Pierce Transit received grant funding from the Washington State Department of Transportation to partner with Sound Transit and King County Metro on an "Affordability and Accessibility for Low Income Riders" project. The project's goals included:
- Expand access to discounted transit fare programs to low-income Puget Sound residents; and
- Provide regional transit benefits to low-and no-income riders.
During the project, Pierce Transit contacted 350 human service agencies serving Pierce County to notify them about the availability of free AllDay Passes for their eligible clients. The grant period ended July 31, 2021, with Pierce Transit distributing 71,300 passes.
Pierce Transit continues to provide All Day Passes and OneRide Tickets to qualifying 501(c)(3) human service agencies at 50 percent off retail prices. In turn, those agencies provide them at no charge to their clients to reach important destinations.
Our clients are generally either homeless or transitioning from homelessness to an apartment. Either way, they tell us that the bus passes are a lifesaver to get to jobs and interviews. They are also necessary for everyday things like grocery shopping and doctor appointments"
- Mary Beth Quinsey, Lenny and the DreamMakers
“This program has been a lifesaver.” Paula Anderson, New Hope
“This is like a wish come true for our children and families (and likely to many Human service agencies who get asked for bus tickets a lot).”
Kerri Pedrick, Communities In Schools
ORCA for Students
Pierce Transit works with local school districts and community colleges to provide transit passes to students.
We are proud to partner with Tacoma Public Schools, Puyallup Digital Learning, Bethel Acceleration Academy, Summit Public Schools, Pierce College, Bates Technical College, Tacoma Community College and Clover Park Technical College to ensure that students can connect to school, work and community resources.
2021 Pierce Transit Operators of the Month
Pierce Transit would like to recognize the 2021 Operators of the Month for their outstanding service to the community. Each month, one operator is selected for this award based on their exceptional safety record, stellar customer service and exemplary attendance.
Six new GILLIG zero-emission electric buses joined Pierce Transit's fleet in 2021. Alongside our three Proterra electric coaches, these GILLIGs help support Pierce Transit's sustainability goals by offering an environmentally friendly, low-emission transit option. Electric buses provide a smooth, quiet ride and serve various routes throughout our system. The buses were purchased with funds from the Washington State Department of Ecology Air Pollution Control Account and the federal Volkswagen settlement.
Responsibly Sourced Fuel
Pierce Transit has embraced the clean air benefits of compressed natural gas (CNG) for more than 35 years. Today, 80 percent of Pierce Transit buses operate on CNG, 13 percent are hybrid-electric, 5 percent are battery electric and just 2 percent are diesel. While operating most of our buses on CNG makes Pierce Transit’s fleet far cleaner than those that run on traditional fuels, there is still an environmental impact.
Beginning Nov. 1, Pierce Transit began fueling our CNG fleet with Responsibly Sourced Gas (RSG). Transitioning to certified, carbon net zero RSG means 80 percent of Pierce Transit’s buses are fueled by certified carbon neutral fuel. RSG is natural gas verified as meeting the highest standards and practices to minimize its environmental footprint through the Project Canary TrustWell RSG certification.
By using carbon neutral RSG, Pierce Transit’s carbon reduction equals a reduction of 101,370 pounds of coal burned or 230,496 miles driven by an average car each year.
Next, we plan to step up our sustainability game by using Renewable Natural Gas, ultimately making our transit service not just carbon neutral, but carbon net-negative.
Pierce Transit is governed by a nine-member Board of Commissioners that represent communities in the agency’s service area.
We have worked hard throughout the pandemic to keep customers and employees safe and healthy onboard and at our facilities. This has included thorough cleaning of buses each night and periodic cleanings during the day; clear barriers between the transit operator and customers; masks required onboard; and employee temperature checks when staff arrive at work. We continue to provide free rides to vaccine clinics and appointments, and our official app, Transit, allows riders to report the number of passengers on board their bus in real time so people planning trips can see capacity load. As we move beyond the pandemic, Pierce Transit will be here to serve our customers and get you – safely-- where you need to go.
GET ON BOARD!
How to Ride the Bus!
1. Visit Pierce Transit's online Trip Planner to find which routes to ride.
2. Download Passage Transit Ticketing app to purchase a pass or ticket.
3. Navigate to your bus stop at least 10 minutes before it is scheduled to arrive.
4. Put on your mask.
5. Show the driver your mobile ticket as you board.
6. Pull the cord to request a stop and exit via the rear door.