Pierce Transit Service Cuts

The 212A, by raggiesoft

"The 212A", by raggiesoft

Pierce Transit’s July 12 service change (pdf) includes an overall 5% cut in service.  According to the News Tribune, that’s 33,000 service hours and about 300,000 boardings.  As one might expect, it’s due to a $10m revenue shortfall out of a $121m budget.

Apparently, the agency has decided to cut low-productivity routes, even though that cuts off some people from bus service entirely.  King County, fraught with subarea resentment, is still agonizing over that value judgment.

Pierce Transit has also worked all the cost-cutting gimmicks, like layoffs, dipped into reserves, and increased fares by a quarter.  Interestingly, their farebox recovery is only 13%, well below King County’s.

About Martin H. Duke

Martin joined the blog in Fall 2007 and became Editor-in-Chief in 2009. He is originally from suburban DC, but has lived in the Greater Seattle area since 1997. He resides with his family in Columbia City and works as a software engineer in Lower Queen Anne.




Comments

  1. Nathan from Tacoma says:

    As a patron of Pierce Transit that lives on one of the cut routes (501) I find the entire thing very irritating.

    Makes me want to buy a car…

    You know, I find the entire thing very frustrating. People approve more taxes for them, and they cut fares and reduce service. This impacts the very people that ride the buses in the first place.

    I for one say that it is time to make one giant transit system out of all these separate ones, and be done with it. As much as I hate to see jobs eliminated, maybe it is time to eliminate some redundant layers of management? Unify the dispatching systems?

    • That would be like combining 4 houses on one block. They each have their own administrative system (parents) and employees (kids)–so just save and combine them, one mom, one dad, and kids from four families. I mean, it’s not like the four households had different rules before, so they should blend together pretty seamlessly, right? And those other 6 parents won’t mind, will they?

      • I agree with Nathan, honestly. Merge all four systems under one management umbrella. You keep some regional headquarters for the purposes of localized expertise and institutional knowledge. These HQs would handle route planning and local service delivery. The overall management handles the top level stuff. I’d also look to merge other systems in down the road (Intercity, Kitsap, etc) to make Sound Transit a truly regional system for the whole puget sound area.

      • Which four are talking about? There are five systems within King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties.

        And those counties are served by four other agencies. So now we’re up to nine? Oh wait, WTA comes into Skagit and Jefferson comes into Kitsap – now it’s eleven?

        Jefferson Transit goes into Clallam and Grays Harbor counties. And then Grays Harbor has service from Pacific County, that also goes to Astoria. At what point does it end?

      • I really wish that Everett Transit and Community Transit would merge! The merger makes sense (much like Seattle and KC). It will be done over ET’s collective dead body:(. At least they are working more effectively than they used too (Swift).

  2. Mr. Bradford (Brian) says:

    The cuts presented here are but a small foreshadow of what is proposed if the tax levy fails to pass.

    You can’t have something for nothing. And because the public is moderating their spending habits, the sales tax revenues are falling, falling, falling.

    I’m just hoping that old lady Griffith is planning to research the history of PT’s roller-coaster service boom-bust cycle to put an end to it.

    Some varied thoughts:

    Most of the non-spine routes could operate every 60 minutes off-peak with little impact to the public. The most important thing to remember is to make the non-spine routes connect with the spine routes. The spine routes shouldn’t be made so long as to make their schedule a joke. This 1,2,3 nonsense has to be thrown out. Operating a system where all routes converge on transit centers is more efficient than running routes out and back.

    And of course, the lack of bus service to some parts of the taxing district is going to bite PT in the butt. DuPont residents will ask “Why should I support something I not only don’t use, but can’t use.”. NE Tacoma residents will say “I work in Kent and ride Metro to work, why would I fund PT?”

    Brian Bradford
    Olympia, WA

    • Ben Schiendelman says:

      The research is done. We need an income tax.

    • Jessica says:

      As for DuPont, it’s a joke. My Dad lives in DuPont and it’s a b***h (sorry for my French) to wait for a 592 or ask for a ride from the Steilacoom Ferry Landing on the 212

      • Chris Stefan says:

        While DuPont isn’t huge it is an important P&R pickup point for people commuting from South Sound to points further North. There is also a fair amount of employment in DuPont (at least relative to its size).

        At the very least some of the Olympia Express runs should pickup and drop off in DuPont.

      • PT tried doing that once by asking people who ride the 601 and 603A and people said No.

        I was out visiting my father for several months straight and I usually had to get a ride to the Steilacoom Ferry Landing or Lakewood Mall (Town Center) if I wanted to go somewhere, then catch the 592 back.

        I think what DuPont needs for now is to have all Olympia Express buses in both directions to stop at the Park & Ride. My Step-Mother usually goes shopping in Lacey so hopping on an IT bus into Thurston would make life much easier (hint to IT’s board: ORCA works wonders)

    • Just like some taxpayers whining that they are paying for schools when they don’t have any kids (or kids are grown)!

  3. Thanks for using my 212A pic :)

  4. JoshMahar says:

    I know we’ve been discussing this one forever but cutting out routes based on productivity really does make sense. I feel like its a smart growth tactic as well. If you want to use public transit, live somewhere that is conducive to effective transit. Don’t live way out in the exurbs and act as if its your right to have bus service.

    • Mike Orr says:

      I’m starting to think more the same. If it’s a choice between running the 15/17/18/28 at current levels vs running the 15 at Chicago levels (every 10 minutes till midnight, every 30 minutes owl), the latter would gain more riders. People will take a bus more, or walk further to it, or move next to it, if they know it will always be coming in a few minutes. It doesn’t help if the next bus stops a few blocks away because you don’t know if it will be on time or not, or if you’ll miss your current bus if you walk over to it and it doesn’t come.

      Although having grown up in the Eastside, I know that not everybody is there by choice. Some people are kids and can’t choose where they live, others have jobs in the Eastside, or a spouse who does, or have to live with their relatives because they can’t afford their own place, etc. A lot of people choose a house without regard to how far it is from transit, but others are simply stuck in unfortunate locations.

      And I suspect (although I don’t know for sure), that the people in the burbs clamoring for more transit are not mainly those living in low-density places like Sammamish. Instead they’re the ones living in the most transit-friendly parts they can find; e.g., NE 8th Street or Crossroads. And many of those in far-out places accept that they’ll have to drive to a park n ride, and are merely asking for larger park n rides that don’t fill up at 6am.

      • Thank you. Perfect example as my Dad lives at on International Place in DuPont (do a Google search as to how far away that is to either the Ferry Landing or the DuPont Park & Ride) and I’m coming all the way from the east coast when I visit, so I’m unable to bring a bike.

        Even something like Metro’s DART or Pierce’s Bus Plus connecting to the 212 or 592 would do the trick

      • Jessica says:

        I’m in the same problem as you are!

        My father lives by the elementary school and it’s not like I’m going to wheel down Palisade Blvd from the Park & Ride or the Ferry Landing (uphill? good luck in a manual wheelchair and downhill is dangerous)

        And since the 592 doesn’t run on weekends…

      • Community Transit addressed this in their long range plan last year (http://www.commtrans.org/Projects/Documents/SixYearPlan2008-2013.pdf)in that they have established transit emphasis corridors. If you build or move on a corridor that has not been identified as a transit emphasis corridor, it is unlikely you will get transit service. At least it was important enough to CT to devote 37 pages to this concept.

        Here is a brief paragraph from the beginning of the section on Transit Emphasis Corridors:
        “A vital message of this TDP concerns the link between land use, transit and the role counties and cities play in transit market development. Local jurisdictions have more control over transit market development than any transit agency. They do this by encouraging high-densities, transit, pedestrian and bike-oriented development, appropriate parking fees and transit-priority/HOV roadway improvements. It is our hope that by documenting our commitment to serve this network, Community Transit can send a signal to local jurisdictions that they might, with some confidence, integrate the
        network into their land use plans and work with us to develop transit markets in these
        areas.”

        I think this was a grand idea that CT had.

      • Wasn’t the 15 supposed to become a RapidRide route with that level of service?

        I am one of them Eastsiders wishing they could live in Seattle or have more transit. At least I live within walking distance of a park & ride and have the 255.

  5. Is taking the 207 out of The Bus Stops Here some kind of secrecy thing?

  6. For the most part, I’d say that the cuts actually make sense. The routes being cut are truly marginal, the density just isn’t high enough to generate much ridership at all. I’d have to agree with others though, that fares are too high. If we built the ridership with an Unlimited Access style (UPASS) program at all of the local colleges, we could build ridership over time and plug revenue shortfalls.

    Also, PT is going to be undergoing a complete redesign of the operating model over the next couple of months. We’re still in the dark ages operating off of a timed-transfer model. These changes had to be made… but there’s still so much left to do.

Sign in or create an account to save your credentials and make commenting faster.



You may want to read our comment policy.