- Getting Around
Bus Stop Balancing Project
On Sept. 13, the Pierce Transit Board of Commissioners approved the Bus Stop Balancing project proposal, which authorizes removal of up to 214 bus stops – about 10 percent of our current stops – with the March 20, 2022 service change. Balancing bus stops increases safety, ensures buses run on time, can increase ridership and, with resultant cost savings, may give us the opportunity to add more service hours.
This yearlong project started with a thorough review of each Pierce Transit bus stop through several lenses, including safety, ADA, equity, proximity to other stops and other factors. We conducted extensive outreach inside our agency and with customers and received 415 comments on 260 individual stops.
A team of agency employees and a member of our Community Transportation Advisory Group reviewed every comment; we also conducted an equity analysis to ensure stop removals did not disproportionately impact minority or low-income populations. Initially the project was considering about 400 stops for removal, but after further analysis we settled on half that amount. Ninety-eight percent of all boardings currently occur at stops that will be retained, and removing lower-performing bus stops will speed up service and boost on-time performance.
Toward the end of this year, Pierce Transit will add signage to bus stops that are being removed so that riders will know where they can catch their bus and can plan trips accordingly.
We would like to thank all members of the public, as well as Pierce Transit operators and service support staff, who submitted feedback on the Bus Stop Balancing project.
Read below for more information about the project or watch this short video that explains why balancing bus stops is an important way to keep people moving in a transit system.
For closed captioning in other languages, Click the “YouTube” icon to watch video on YouTube, then click the “CC” icon to turn on closed captioning. Select “Subtitles” and “Autotranslate” to select your language.
Why balance bus stops?
When bus stops are too close together, it slows an entire transit system down. That can negatively impact ridership, as one of the primary reasons people don’t ride transit is because it can take longer to reach their destination.
It is typical for transit agencies to add more and more stops based on constituent requests, new destinations and other reasons. The more stops a bus has to make, the more time it has to spend:
- Pulling in and out of traffic
- Dropping off and picking up passengers
- Waiting while passengers pay their fare and get seated
- Getting caught at red lights
It is important for a transit agency to take a comprehensive look at all its bus stop locations and balance them to ensure stops are not too far apart, but also not so close that the entire system is slowing down. Looking at stops comprehensively from a safety perspective and through other lenses is also important.
How were stops identified for potential removal?
Guidelines suggest that bus stops should be no closer than 1/8 mile in dense urban areas, and no closer than 1/4 mile in other areas. One-quarter mile is about four blocks, or a 5 to 7-minute walk from stop to stop. This walking time is cut in half when someone is starting between the two stops. On many Pierce Transit routes, stops are much closer together than these guidelines suggest. On one route, for example, we have 21 bus stops within just over 1 mile.
Over the past several months, a team of Pierce Transit employees has conducted a thorough review of all 2,100+ bus stops in Pierce Transit’s system. They examined them through the lenses of:
- Safety, including pedestrian facilities, lighting and security, visibility, intersection traffic control and topography
- Accessibility for riders with mobility challenges
- Proximity to other stops
- Ridership at that stop relative to adjacent stops
- Key transfer points and major destinations nearby (e.g., hospitals, shopping, schools, etc.)
- Investments in each stop (shelter, concrete pads, lighting, etc.) and cost of repairs
Following this work the team identified stops throughout the system for potential removal with the March 20, 2022 service update.