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Bus Stop Balancing Project

Pierce Transit is conducting a “Bus Stop Balancing” project. The goal of this project is to speed up trips on Pierce Transit bus rides. We’re doing that by conducting a thorough examination of each bus stop and consolidating, removing or relocating stops, based on specific criteria, at the March 20, 2022, service change. The project also aims to increase safety, ensure buses are running on time, increase ridership and potentially give us the opportunity to add more service hours with the cost savings.

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
  • Equity
  • 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.

How can customers and the community offer their input?

Pierce Transit posted signs at each stop identified for potential removal and sought public input from early March through mid-April 2021. The agency also reached out to riders and community members in many other ways, including through digital communications, virtual meetings, information onboard buses and a host of other communications. As of April 16, the agency had received more than 416 comments. About 60 percent disagreed with the proposal to remove a stop, while 30 percent agreed. The remainder were general comments.

The comment period is officially closed, but if a member of the public would still like to offer input, they may call Pierce Transit Customer Services at 253.581.8000 (option 1, then option 1 again) and leave a comment.

What happens next?

A panel of experts consisting of Pierce Transit staff and a member of the agency’s external Community Transportation Advisory Group reviewed the comments and rated stops, considering the feedback received, mobility, equity, safety concerns and other factors. Follow this review, the list of stops being considered for removal dropped from 19 percent of existing bus stops to about 10 percent. Stops no longer under consideration for removal were marked as such with signage at the stop. 

The Pierce Transit Board of Commissioners will be asksed to consider and approve the final stop removal plan at its Aug. 9, 2021 board meeting. Once the final decision is made about which stops will be removed, Pierce Transit will post signs at each of those stops letting riders know they will be removed.

The agency will conduct another large public communications campaign before the identified stops are removed March 20, 2022.

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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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