Message from the CEO
Elections in 2023 will be held on February 14, April 25, August 1 and November 7. Find out how to register to vote, where to drop off your ballot or how to change your address at piercecountywa.gov/328/elections or by contacting Pierce County Elections:
- 2501 S. 35th St. Suite C, Tacoma, WA 98404-7410
- 253.798.VOTE (8683)
- Follow on Twitter for updates! @PierceCountyAud
Serving South Pierce County
Spanaway Transit Center
In a ceremony attended by elected officials and local dignitaries, Pierce Transit broke ground on its new Spanaway Transit Center in October. Located at 20702 Mountain Highway East in Spanaway, it will serve as the southern terminus for the current Route 1 and the agency’s first Stream Bus Rapid Transit line, which is at about 60 percent design. This will be Pierce Transit’s first new transit center since 1998, recognizing the increased need for services to support the significant growth in South Pierce County.
Residents of south Pierce County will use this facility to make local and regional transit connections to the greater Puget Sound area and beyond. The on-site Park & Ride will allow commuters to drive fewer solo miles to work as they will be able to catch the bus or a vanpool at the Transit Center.
The facility will be built in two phases and is funded jointly by WSDOT and the Federal Transit Administration. Phase 1, which began construction this fall, will feature a bus turnaround, a 38-car Park & Ride lot, comfort station for bus drivers and passenger drop-off area. Phase 2, currently in planning, will increase parking to 250 stalls and include enhanced entrance/exit infrastructure.
The Spanaway Runner, launched in August, provides on-demand transportation to the public, connecting students, workers, seniors and those with limited mobility to and from community resources, appointments, school, work and transit hubs within the Spanaway Runner zone. The suburban sprawl and rural properties in Midland, Parkland and Spanaway do not support full-fledged bus service, making it difficult for residents to get where they need to go. Runner uses smaller, wheelchair-accessible vehicles to provide trips when and where needed, and to make it easier to reach local and regional transit options. Runner has the same fare as riding a Pierce Transit bus and service runs seven days a week.
New ORCA rollout and retail network expansion, app
ORCA is the Puget Sound's all-in-one transit payment card that makes it easy for hundreds of thousands of transit riders across the region to move seamlessly between systems and modes and get where they need to go. The first ORCA card rolled out in 2009, so it was time for a new system that caught up with today’s technology. In May 2022, Pierce Transit joined with regional transit partners to launch the new and improved ORCA card, a new website, a smartphone app, and real-time value card loading. The launch involved many Pierce Transit employees working hundreds of hours to prepare for the improvements, including updating software, installing new card readers on vehicles, placing vending machines at transit centers and conducting public outreach through Street Teams to help customers learn about new features. In the Fall the region doubled the number of retail locations where customers could purchase and load ORCA cards. More features will be coming soon, including a “tap-to-pay” feature. ORCA on!
Free Youth Transit Pass
Pierce Transit celebrated the start of the school year by offering free fares for youth ages 18 and under on all Pierce Transit modes. The Free Youth Transit Pass allows young people to ride free on regional transit systems, too.
Many young people need transportation to participate in after-school activities, to get to jobs and volunteer opportunities. This pass helps them learn how to ride transit, and connect to their community, at no cost to them or their families. The free transit pass reduces barriers for youth to access jobs and other life-enriching opportunities.
The Free Youth Transit Pass was made possible through the Washington State Legislature’s Move Ahead Washington transportation package.
Pierce Transit welcomed many new team members in 2022, and they got right to work providing safe and reliable transportation options for our neighbors. We are still hiring, especially for bus drivers, mechanics, public safety officers and facilities personnel. We have other jobs, too, that you would see at any typical large company – accounting, payroll, human resources, information technology and others.
Our training programs are second-to-none, including a Journey Level Mechanic apprenticeship program and an award-winning driver training program that uses new technology such as virtual reality. With benefits including health insurance and retirement, if you’re looking for a family-wage job and a career in the transportation industry, consider applying today! Visit PierceTransit.org/Careers to learn more.
Good to Give
Pierce Transit’s “Good to Give” employee team kept up their momentum in 2022 by showing up for our community in a variety of ways. The Adopt-A-Street Team gathered to clean up Pierce Transit’s sponsored stretch of South Tacoma Way, supplies and goods were collected to support kids returning to school, and the United Way campaign expanded with new donor opportunities including gift wrapping and a gift basket silent auction. Helping those in our community facing food insecurity remained top of mind, too, with continued group events at Emergency Food Network. The Good to Give committee and Pierce Transit employees are honored to help lift up the Pierce County community and looks forward to serving in new and exciting ways in 2023.
An award-winning workplace
Pierce Transit is an award-winning workplace. Recently the agency won a “WellCity” award from the Association of Washington Cities, recognizing Pierce Transit for meeting the nine best practice standards for promoting employee health. This happens in many ways, such as through an active Wellness Committee, Wellness Fairs, onsite employee exercise areas, and a robust Employee Assistance Program that covers everything from legal assistance to finding help caring for elderly family members. At Pierce Transit, we are committed to keeping our employees happy and healthy, which means even better service for our community.
Safety Program A National Leader
At Pierce Transit, we have embedded safety into our culture – and that translates into a safer ride for you. The agency’s bus safety program was recently named one of the best in the nation, recognized for the positive effect it has on the safety of drivers, passengers, pedestrians and others in the transit environment. In 2022, Pierce Transit added to the strength of its bus driver training program by adding a Virtual Reality training component, giving bus operators another tool for mastering safety inspections, road hazards and routes before getting out on the open road. We honored the operators who joined our Million Mile Club, each celebrating having driven one million accident-free miles. We have the best, safest drivers out there, and will not stop in our quest to keep it that way!
SERVING OUR COMMUNITY
What our Customers are Saying
From a recent customer survey:
- 75% of regular riders say they would recommend Pierce Transit to friends, colleagues and family members
- Why are they riding? Work, shopping, medical appointments, recreation and social events, school, dining out
- Most customers use an ORCA card to pay their fare
- 77% of frequent riders say “Pierce Transit is an agency I trust.”
- More than half of frequent riders do not have access to a personal vehicle.
- More than one-third of frequent riders’ households earn less than $30,000 a year.
Pierce Transit supports community wellness in many ways, including providing free rides when and where needed. During several weeks this summer, Puget Sound experienced unusually high temperatures. To help underserved people who needed access to transportation to get out of the heat, Pierce Transit worked with the Pierce County Department of Emergency Management to provide free bus rides, and SHUTTLE paratransit rides to those who were paratransit eligible, to cooling centers around Pierce Transit’s service area. The free round-trip rides were made available throughout each high-temperature day for passengers traveling to or from a cooling center.
In partnership with Pierce County Councilmember Jani Hitchen and ForeverGreen Trails’ 6th annual Pierce County Trails Day July 30, rides on Pierce Transit buses, SHUTTLE paratransit, and Runner on-demand transportation were fare-free, helping people more easily access Trails Day events, or their local trails or parks. Trails Day is an annual countywide celebration of outdoor active recreation, mobility, and stewardship focused on all types of trails.
Throughout 2022, we continued to provide free rides to COVID vaccination centers and vaccination appointments.
In May, vanpool commuters transitioned to one of six flat rate fare options based exclusively on their daily round trip commute miles. This new permanent, part-time rider service gives hybrid commuters the ability to join a vanpool group. Part-time riders pay a daily rate based on the daily round trip commute miles of the vehicle.
Vanpool commuters now have a predictable and consistent fare, regardless of how many people are in their group or how many days per week they commute.
This is especially important to commuters with commute subsidies offered by their employer, as they must often identify what their vanpool fare is going to be months in advance when submitting subsidy choices.
Pierce Transit also launched a flexible daily rider service that allows commuters with a fluctuating in-office work schedule to reserve open seats on qualifying vanpool groups.
Our SHUTTLE paratransit service implemented a new call center plan which incorporates employee incentives and recognition as customer service goals are achieved.
This year, SHUTTLE provided over 500 trips to and from the Washington State Fair for those who could otherwise not access the event.
As of Nov. 4, 2022
Standard SHUTTLE trips provided: 173,484
Same day/on-demand CHOICE trips provided: 2,520
As our community and the world move beyond the COVID-19 pandemic and riders continue returning to transit, we are excited about what the future holds for the state of public transportation in Pierce County. Here are some projects on our plate for 2023 that will help us provide even better service to you, our customers:
- We’re electric! By early 2022 Pierce Transit had nine battery electric buses (BEBs) in service, providing clean, quiet public transportation to our community. Mid-year the agency received a federal grant to purchase three more BEBs, plus related charging infrastructure and funds to train employees to maintain them. Pierce Transit already has one of the cleanest bus fleets in the nation, with about 80 percent running on clean, compressed natural gas. Another 13 percent are hybrid-electrics, 5 percent are battery-electrics, and just 2 percent of the agency’s bus fleet runs on diesel. Pierce Transit’s goal is to convert 20 percent of its fleet to zero emissions by 2030.
- Improving our base to serve you better. Pierce Transit’s base in Lakewood is 34 years old, and is in real need of safety and modernization upgrades. We are expanding our battery electric fleet and need room for more charging on base. We will also need new maintenance bays to service the Bus Rapid Transit vehicles arriving soon, as well as double-decker vehicles, and require technology and safety upgrades to properly service today’s complex fleet. A multi-year base upgrade project is already underway and will bring the agency’s base up to today’s standards.
- Bus Rapid Transit plans moving forward! Planning continues for the South Sound’s first Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line, which will run 14.4 miles between downtown Tacoma and Spanaway. The project is right around 60 percent design, and in late 2023 we expect initial utility work to begin along the corridor. While we plan the first line, we are also studying where we might place future BRT lines into a connected system called “Stream.” Watch for updates throughout 2023 at PierceTransit.org/brt/.
2022 Pierce Transit Operators of the Month
Pierce Transit would like to recognize the 2022 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.
Pierce Transit is governed by a nine-member Board of Commissioners that represent communities in the agency’s service area.
Marty Campbell, Chair
Pierce County Council
Kristina Walker, Vice Chair
Tacoma City Council
Mayor of Tacoma
University Place City Council Represents Cities of: University Place and Fircrest
Term Began Dec 2022
Mayor of Edgewood Represents Cities of: Edgewood and Puyallup
Term ended Nov. 2022
Deputy Mayor of Puyallup
Represents Cities of: Edgewood and Puyallup
Mayor of Fife Represents Cities of: Fife, Milton, Pacific, Auburn, Ruston, Steilacoom and Gig Harbor
Mayor of Lakewood
Pierce County Council
Tacoma City Council