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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 service areas. 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 essential destinations. 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
- In addition to regular daily cleanings, Pierce Transit is cleaning and disinfecting our buses at five transit centers around our system, every time a bus arrives. This is taking place seven days a week, 12 hours a day.
- Our employees have PPE, including face masks, disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer.
- We have marked off seats throughout each bus and directly behind the driver to keep passengers distanced from each other and the driver.
- We are limiting the number of passengers on buses. On our busiest routes, we are operating “shadow buses” to follow behind buses and pick up passengers if a bus is full.
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. 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. We have reopened The Bus Shop customer service office at Tacoma Dome Station, with a limit of two customers in the lobby at one time to follow social distancing guidelines.
Face Coverings are Key
It is now a mandate in Washington State to wear face coverings in public places, including while waiting for a bus or riding transit.
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.
This is particularly important to our 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. Some buses are also equipped with mask dispensers near the front door. If you’ve forgotten your mask, please ask for one.
Our goal is that everyone riding a bus is wearing a facial covering.
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.
On September 2020, the agency will restore 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.
Once we implement 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 will take effect. As March draws near, watch for news and updates here on our website. You may also sign up for news and route-specific alerts HERE.
Helping our Community
- This year is Pierce Transit’s 40th Anniversary, and we are proud to have been serving our community for four decades, in both big and small ways.
- Since the pandemic began, our employees have donated 500 pounds of food to the Emergency Food Network, to help people in our community.
- In July, employees held a socially-distant Adopt-a-Street event to clean up our adopted street in Lakewood near our agency headquarters.
- In August, 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.