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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.

Click here for a map indicating which bus stops will be closing March 2022.

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
  • 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.

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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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