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When we say the safety of our riders and employees is our top priority, we mean it. As soon as COVID-19 hit we took immediate action implementing safety measures and precautions to keep our operators and riders safe and provide them with peace of mind. You’ll see our commitment to reconnecting you to life throughout Pierce Transit's service area. We want to point out some things that may look a little different next time you ride. These are in place for your safety, the safety of other passengers and Pierce Transit employees.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Pierce Transit has continued to focus on keeping our customers and employees safe while getting people to where they need to go. We are providing about 13,000 bus rides each weekday, plus rides on our paratransit vehicles. This is about 50 percent of our pre-COVID ridership levels.
Pierce Transit is Working Hard to Keep Our Customers and Employees Safe
Reconectandolo con la vida
- Pierce Transit is cleaning and disinfecting our buses regularly. About half our fleet is disinfected once per day, and half is disinfected twice per day.
- Our employees have PPE, including face masks, disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer.
During the height of the pandemic, Pierce Transit – like other transit agencies around Puget Sound – had suspended fares to reduce interaction between the driver and customer at the front of the bus. People were boarding buses from the back.
We have now installed health barriers around the operator area in all our buses to further protect drivers and passengers. With the installation of those barriers, we were able to restore fare collection on June 14, 2020. Whenever possible, we are still asking people to disembark the bus from the back to reduce interaction between people getting on and off the bus, and the driver. The Bus Shop customer service office at Tacoma Dome Station is open with limited hours 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday-Friday, with just on customer allowed in the lobby at a time to follow social distancing guidelines. Information by phone is still available 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Monday-Friday, at 253.581.8000, option 1, then 1 again or TTY: 711.
Face Coverings are Key
It is now a federal law to wear face coverings while waiting for transit, boarding or disembarking from transit, or riding transit. Passengers over age two must wear face coverings over nose and mouth throughout their entire transit ride.
We are helping amplify that message through signage at our transit centers; signs and audio messages on our buses; on Pierce Transit’s website; and on our social media channels. Our passengers are doing a great job, in fact a recent spot check showed a 99% compliance rate for wearing masks on Pierce Transit buses.
This is particularly important to our transit operators, who are around hundreds of people a day and then go home to their families. When customers cover their face, they help protect these essential workers.
We have provided masks to drivers and other staff, to give to passengers who don’t have one. All Pierce Transit buses are also equipped with mask dispensers near the front door. If you’ve forgotten your mask, please ask for one in order to board.
The following individuals are exempt from the requirement to wear masks onboard:
- Children under the age of 2
- People with disabilities who cannot wear a mask, or cannot safely wear a mask, because of the disability as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq.)
- People for whom wearing a mask would create a risk to workplace health, safety, or job duty as determined by the relevant workplace safety guidelines or federal regulations.
What Can you Expect Moving Forward
When the pandemic hit, Pierce Transit had to reduce service levels several times over just a few weeks, eventually cutting service by about one-third from pre-COVID levels. Six routes were temporarily suspended, and many were operating on vastly reduced schedules.
In May, Pierce Transit was able to restore some service, up to 80 percent of pre-COVID levels.
In September 2020, the agency restored service to about 90 percent of what existed before COVID.
All of these changes have had to occur quickly, responding to ridership levels, available revenues and doing whatever we could to provide as much service as possible.
Now that we have implemented the new service levels in September, we will begin planning for our next service update in March 2021. Our hope is that sales taxes, which are Pierce Transit’s largest source of funding, will begin to rise again, and we can restore more service.
On March 21, 2021 Pierce Transit’s service change takes effect. We are adding back many trips to our bus schedules, particularly on Sundays, to about 95 percent of what existed before COVID. To sign up for news and route-specific alerts HERE.
Helping our Community
- Pierce Transit is proud to continue serving our community after more than four decades of service, in both big and small ways.
- Since the pandemic began, our employees have donated 500 pounds of food to the Emergency Food Network (EFN), to help people in our community. Our employee volunteers have also repackaged thousands of pounds of bulk food into family-size portions at EFN's warehouse.
- In July 2020, employees held a socially-distant Adopt-a-Street event to clean up our adopted street in Lakewood near our agency headquarters.
- In August 2020, Pierce Transit employees will head to the Emergency Food Networks’ Mother Earth Farm, to tend to the gardens which provide food for local food pantries.