PT 224 on Pacific Avenue

Beginning tomorrow, September 11, Pierce Transit will improve midday frequency and expand weeknight service on 13 of its routes. This is the second major expansion of the system since the Great Recession, during which the agency cut much of its service, withdrew from several cities, and failed to pass two ballot measures. Pierce Transit joins Metro, Sound Transit and Community Transit in adding service this weekend, during a coordinated region-wide schedule change.

The system’s busiest corridor, route 1 on Pacific Avenue and 6th Avenue, will see midday frequency restored to 15 minutes. Route 2, serving Lakewood and University Place, will see midday frequency boosted to 20 minutes. Route 51 will be revised to terminate in the Springbrook area of Lakewood instead of the Lakewood Sounder station. Other routes are receiving additional trips to extend service later on weeknights.

A full list of changes is available after the jump.

• Route 1:  6th Avenue-Pacific Avenue. On weekdays, more mid-day trips are added to improve connections: six new trips from Tacoma Community College and seven new trips from SR-7/Mountain Highway. Mid-day frequency improves from 20 minutes to 15 minutes.

• Route 2: S.19th St. & Bridgeport. On weekdays, more mid-day trips are added: Four from 10th & Commerce and five from Lakewood Transit Center. Mid-day frequency improves from 30 minutes to 20 minutes.

• Route 4: Lakewood-South Hill. Weekday evening service is extended until 9 p.m. Two trips are added from Lakewood Transit Center, and one trip is added from South Hill.

• Route 10: Pearl St. On weekdays, evening service is extended until 8 p.m. Three trips are added from Point Defiance, and three trips are added from Tacoma Community College.

• Route 13: N 30th St. On weekdays, evening service is extended until 7 p.m. with the addition of two trips from N. 24th & Proctor, and two trips from the Tacoma Dome Station.

• Route 14: Proctor District. On weekdays, evening service is extended until 8 p.m. with the addition of two trips from N. 24th & Proctor and one trip from Tacoma Dome Station. On Saturdays, trip times are adjusted and one trip is added from the Tacoma Dome Station.

• Route 45:  Yakima. On weekdays, all trips leaving 10th and Commerce depart five minutes earlier, creating better connections with Route 4.

• Route 51: Union Ave. Route 51 now travels to McChord Dr. & Bridgeport in the Springbrook neighborhood, providing connections to the Lakewood Transit Center. Route no longer travels to the Lakewood Sounder Station.

• Route 54: 38th St. On weekdays, three evening trips are added from 56th & Portland, and one evening trip is added from the Tacoma Mall Transit Center.

• Route 100:  Gig Harbor. On weekdays, schedule times are adjusted in both directions of travel.

• Route 202: 72nd St.  On Sundays, schedule times are adjusted in both directions of travel.

• Route 425:  Puyallup Connector. On weekdays, trips from the Puyallup Sounder Station are adjusted. On Saturdays, scheduled are adjusted in both directions of travel.

• Route 500: Federal Way. On Saturdays, mid-day service is increased to 30-minute frequencies with the addition of seven trips in each direction.

Additional service expansions are scheduled for March and September 2017. By the end of next year, an estimated 59,000 service hours will be restored to bring Pierce Transit over the 500,000 annual service hour mark, short of the 622,000 hours provided prior to the recession.

43 Replies to “Pierce Transit Restoring Midday and Night Service”

  1. Fun with numbers: With Link Light Rail projected to reach ca. 19 million boardings this year, and Pierce Transit struggling with just 9 million boardings a year, PT is about to get lapped by a single train line.

    Fun with talking points: Remember when the Washington Policy Center pointed to Pierce Transit as an example of what King County Metro should do in response to the recession?

    1. Metro lost a LOT of street cred by crying WOLF for years, and just before they were going to cut and restructure service the money suddenly appeared and the plan tossed in the bin and life carried on. they also lost a LOT of opportunity to clean up, streamline, and reprioritize where their service went. Everyone else in the region had to make cuts, painful cuts, to service and staff. But Metro, through the graces of god and politicians who don’t think transit exists anywhere outside of king county got their added taxes and extensions to scrape by through the recession. I sure as hell hope the next time it comes – and it will – they get bit good by it and have to make up for crying WOLF all these years.

      1. So crying “WOLF” is the same thing as warning the people of king county of imminent service cuts? Just because people approved tax measures to save metro doesn’t mean that metro didn’t have serious butget problems from the recession. Crying wolf assumes that there is no real problem when in fact metro’s potential cuts were both very real and problematic. It’s easy for people who either ride the bus by choice or not at all to say “it was metro’s fault, just cut the buses” but for the hundreds of thousands of people who actually rely on the buses to survive those cuts were a huge deal. Restoration of service is not proof that the taxes were unnecessary; all that proves is the recession is over and now transit agencies can turn their attention to expansion (metro transit) or start digging their way out of the hole the Great Recession left (pierce transit).

      2. So you have a crystal ball that could reliably predict how soon the recovery would come and how strong it would be? The Wall Street traders don’t have that,. the news analysts don’t have that, the president doesn’t have that, the King County council doesn’t have that, so why do you? The county was responding to what the economy was doing then, not what it would do in the future. Then there was a loss of sales-tax revenue which drained Metro’s cash reserves.

        “they also lost a LOT of opportunity to clean up, streamline, and reprioritize where their service went.”

        Do you know even a little bit about what you’re talking about? Metro eliminated long-term planning. standby buses to take over when a bus breaks down or gets stuck behind a wreck, it delayed fleet replacement, made administrative cuts, cut everything else to keep the buses running. The route cuts came because finally that wasn’t enough.

        “Everyone else in the region had to make cuts, painful cuts, to service and staff.”

        The state in 2012 gave King County authority for a two-year supplemental tax to postpone the cuts while the state worked on a long-term stable funding mechanism (which it never did). They did not give this to any other transit agency. Lawmakers at the time said they did it for Metro because they were impressed with Metro’s performance in implementing previous audit recommendations and becoming more efficient.

        As for what “cleaning up, streamlining, and reprioritizing” it could have done, I can’t respond to abstractions or guess what changes you mean. If you list specifically what you think Metro should have done, then I might be able to say whether that’s reasonable or feasable.

      3. politicians who don’t think transit exists anywhere outside of king county

        What does this mean, exactly? King county politicians thought transit in King County was important enough to find some revenue for, so they did. Are you suggesting they should have given some of that revenue to Pierce and Snohomish county, out of the kindness of their hearts? I expect that would have been unpopular with the people who elected them, and rightly so.

      4. I took a transportation theory class in college. My professor started off the class saying that no one can predict the future, we can only plan on it based on trends and knowledge of the past. He said that if anyone in the class thinks they can predict the future, to walk out the door, book a flight to Vegas and become a billionaire, because this profession won’t make them very much money.

        So, MrZ, clearly you have the ability to predict the future (or maybe just have 20/20 hindsight) and should consider a lucrative career as a professional gambler.

      5. I do think Metro gained street cred for prioritizing protecting their best-performing routes and runs, in the aftermath of the No vote, when some of the weakest-performing services got cut.

        Metro gained a lot of street cred for ORCA LIFT. (And so did the Transit Riders Union.)

        I also think the trains-are-better-than-buses crowd lost whatever street cred it had by opposing a bus-service-only measure, with the result of cutting a lot of express service.

        A lot of politicians also lost a lot of street cred by sitting on the sidelines.

        Ed Murray gained a lot of street cred by coming through to save a lot of Seattle bus service that would have been cut, and provide more service where routes were bursting at the seems, instead of just preserving the status quo.

      6. I can only speak from what I saw. Metro got special authority from the state for the $20 car tab tax to help them by, while all the time crying “WOLF” that they would have to make major cuts when the authority ran out. Meanwhile, other agencies across the state who did not get this special funding were going through rounds of layoffs, and service cutbacks. Pierce Transit went through three rounds of layoffs, and two major rounds of service cuts if memory serves all the time while trying to pass the remainder of the .3 of the taxing authority they had available, and were unable to and the last time by 700 some odd votes, most likely in my opinion due to ballot placement. Sure metro made cutbacks too, and stopped training new operators in anticipation of a major service cutback and restructure package. And than at the last minute, through a combination of luck, and the good graces of the Seattle taxpayer tax revenues picked up at the same time as the SDOT funding kicked in and where did the major cutback plan go? Really, where did it go? it went away. Gone. Away. Never heard of it again. Everyone else though, who drew down their reserves, made structured cutbacks, layed off hundreds of good, hard working people that (now they are having trouble replacing). I don’t know where this “Crystal Ball” business came from, I only know what I have seen. And I was not impressed when only King County (and possibly community I forget now) got the special authority to raise car tabs by $20 to fund transit. Even though other agencies had been managing their resources in my opinion much more responsibly, they are the ones who got the special authority and no one else did. That’s the way I saw it, and i’m not a king county taxpayer so my views may be a bit jaded. As a side note, now that the economy is improving on its own, and it now costs that much more to have to restore service lost in the cutbacks. New operators have to be hired and trained, new equipment purchased and outfitted and the costs have just become that much more expensive to restore what was lost. Of course anything I say is my opinion and is the way I saw things.

      7. Seems like you’ve already answered your own question: the massive cutback plan you speak of disappeared when the new tax revenue you speak of appeared.

        What would you want them to do? Make the cutbacks anyway, even after the new revenue appeared?

      8. Metro got special authority from the state for the $20 car tab tax to help them by, while all the time crying “WOLF” that they would have to make major cuts when the authority ran out. Meanwhile, other agencies across the state who did not get this special funding were going through rounds of layoffs, and service cutbacks.

        It seems to me your problem is with the legislature (for not providing the car tab option for other transit agencies) or with the politicians from those jurisdictions (for not fighting to be included in that funding source in Olympia). Unless King County actively lobbied for other jurisdictions to not be included, which seems unlikely and you’ve provided no evidence for, your frustration here is clearly misplaced.

        The “crying WOLF” nonsense has been dealt with by others, but ignored by you: what you call “crying WOLF” is actually just “not knowing the future, so budgeting conservatively about it.” If you can’t see why it makes good sense for public service agencies to not take risky gambles with budget planning, I don’t know what to tell you.

      9. MrZ, Let’s start with why we have transit and what the agencies should do. We have transit because it’s in the interest of the county’s citizens, economy, health, and cultural life that people have mobility between their homes, workplaces, and other desired destinations. The agencies should provide comprehensive transit within their limited resources, keeping a predermined balance of ridership-based and coverage-based service. But what is the right level of resources? I disagree that the right level is whatever the actual level happens to be. Transit remains a need both in boom times and bust times. Ridership declines in bust times but does not go away. The financing scheme should reflect this constant need, but Metro’s funding is based on sales tax that follows the boom-and-bust cycle. So when a recession hits, all transit agencies should get supplemental funding, or better yet, the state should give them stable funding sources in the first place so this wouldn’t happen.

        The state authorized Metro a 2-year supplement. (I almost said “gave” but the state didn’t give Metro any money.) You say other agencies handled their resources more responsibly, but the state lawmakers said the opposite, that Metro handled its resources more responsibly, and that’s why they gave Metro the supplement.

        You seem to be saying that Metro should have gone through the full cuts and recoveries like the other agencies did, but the fact that the transit needs still exist contradicts this, and your statement that that it harms the agencies to lay off and rehire drivers also contradicts it.

        As to what cuts occurred, there were four phases. Only the first phase went into effect, in September 2014. The other three were scheduled over the following year but the county council canceled them. Metro lost drivers, which is now creating an acute shortage. It also caused would-be drivers to turn to other professions. It also threw two years of cut planning down the drain. Metro’s planning efforts should be focused on improving and expanding service, not on politically-based boomerang cuts (political because it was forced by the state’s funding policies).

      10. @djw its my opinion they have hurt their credibility and possibly the credibility of other agencies by crying wolf and at the end of the day nothing happened. Next time the market goes down, and it will, I don’t know when – but I know it will, we are going to be back in a situation where cuts have to be made. Now, the agency is going to be completely serious about this, however someone is going to remember what happened this last time, and say “look at what happened back in the early to mid 2010s, they said they would have to cut, and all of a sudden did not have to” opponents of other agencies may say the same thing, and add well metro did not have to do it. so no one is going to take it seriously. they also lost a good opportunity to restructure and streamline service that would help keep the limited funds directed at productive services. So when cuts have to be made, it will be an even bigger dismantling of the system than what could have ever been thought of this time.

      11. @mikeorr First off, the fact metro got special dispensation from the state legislature bothers me. I know other agencies did a hell of a lot better job of handing the situation than metro did which their idea was going nearly full steam ahead as the money was running out. They should have been making cuts at the same time as everyone else. Meanwhile everyone else had gone through layoffs, position eliminations, position vacancies, cutting service on the street, and basically pulling the system down. Meanwhile, Metro kept sailing at full speed ahead and hoped like some gambler at the casino they spent all their money, all the “bridge” money and hoped at some point in time they would strike it rich and problem solved. Fortunately it worked for them. For everyone else who took a more conservative approach they lost.
        Secondly, Metro should have modified the restructure plan , implemented it, added back service in Seattle and King County to suit and moved on with a streamlined and optimized system.

      12. its my opinion they have hurt their credibility and possibly the credibility of other agencies by crying wolf and at the end of the day nothing happened.

        It’s possible this may turn out to be true, as an empirical prediction. I don’t know.

        But the idea this Metro’s fault, rather than the fault of politicians (for funding a service we want and need to be consistent with a boom and bust funding mechanism) or the public (for not understanding the difficulty of economic forecasting and/or the need for conservative assumptions about future revenue in transit planning).

        What you seem to be suggesting is that Metro should look at their projections, and if those projections say “with slow to normal economic growth, we’ll have to cut service, but if growth is historically awesome, we won’t” and *not* warn the public of impending cuts, but instead just cross their fingers and hope for strong growth. But surely you can see the danger here–we saw a version of it with Island Transit. When a transit agency has to cut service suddenly, without warning, they look grossly incompetent and irresponsible, and rightly so. You can’t seriously be claiming taking that reckless risk would have been the prudent thing to do–can you?

  2. What’s interesting is that on weekdays, route 500 is only half-hourly during peak hours (hourly other times), but on Saturday, route 500 is half-hourly midday as well.

    1. Assuming most people in that area are at work in the midday, that makes a lot of sense.

      Of course, I’ve no idea whether that’s the case, but it’s an interesting point that I think Metro could consider in some areas (e.g. NE Seattle).

      1. Yeah but most people are at home Saturday. It’s just a weird service pattern (e.g., you don’t see the A-Line running every 10 mins on any weekend). And it’s not like Link where there are big sporting events and conventions every weekend.

      2. That’s not that unusual for suburban routes (to have light midday service and stronger Saturday service). The assumption is that people in the suburbs have jobs that they are not at home in the midday for. The Saturday service is for running errands. Also, there may be parallel service that operates on weekdays which is missing or running less frequently.

      3. Calwatch, I can assure you that Pierce Transit’s system is such a skeleton of a system that there are no “parallel” routes.

    2. It used to be every 15 minutes back in the early 00s. I still think a joint extension of Rapid Ride (maybe ST3 funds until LINK is built?) to Tacoma would be a good proposition.

  3. Still no usable service to the zoo though.

    Maybe the money pegged to build a new parking garage could be better spent on some bus service out there…

    1. And to think route 10 used to loop through there, route 11 used to run every 20 minutes in late 80s/early 90s and it now ends by 8 at night. Which new parking garage are you talking about?

      1. Route 10 could loop Point Defiance if it otherwise went directly on Pearl instead of all those silly diversions into housing developments.

      2. Route 10 actually used to, 11 never did, that ended post I-695 I think it was. The old “bayliner” route also went through the zoo, but that ended in 1993.

      3. @MrZ

        Apparently they are considering building a new parking garage for the zoo “because everyone drives here anyway”

    2. There is a pilot project “trolley” service to Point Defiance starting, to go for three months.

  4. Considering the economic cycles of the last 25 years, we need to plan ST-3 with enough “flex” to be able to adjust service as smoothly as possible to changes in money and political energy available.

    I think that approach of transitioning DSTT from bus-only to joint-use to rail-only stemmed mainly from the need to give all our subareas some Tunnel service early on.

    But I also think that by building the hardest, most expensive, and most critical part of the project first, and designing it for future regional service, we were able to maintain our heaviest service through the cyclic worst, and also be able to continue the project as the economy came back.

    To me, the method of fully-reserved busways consciously designed for conversion to rail is our best approach. Low-floor buses and trains that can do 60 make transition easier than last one. But cross-street-free Tunnel itself shows value of 100% reserved structure.

    Tempting to think about doing second DSTT like this- but very different political and operational conditions. But we should keep checking out all possibilities.

    Still think southbound transit lane between Northgate and Downtown would make the Lynnwood and Everett subareas a lot happier faster however long rail takes to get there.

    Considering the planet’s own business cycle, it would also be good to design lanes and stations to handle rescue work and machinery in steep, crowded areas. System should be able to handle gondola cars (not the ones in the Alps, except if they can carry a lot of rubble). Maybe keep some cars and locomotives around after construction is over.

    Maybe sudden tectonic changes in terrain can put transit years ahead, on both schedule and expense.

    Mark Dublin

    1. “I think that approach of transitioning DSTT from bus-only to joint-use to rail-only stemmed mainly from the need to give all our subareas some Tunnel service early on. ”

      The trains-only policy is ST2, not ST3. It’s being driven by extending Link to Lynnwood and Redmond, which will be 12 trains/hour off-peak and 24 trains/hour peak. Even if a few buses can run in between them without getting in their way, it only takes one bus opening its wheelchair lift or being fully packed or breaking down to through them off schedule. And ST2 does not give Pierce tunnel service.

      Buses require a breakdown lane, which precludes center platforms, which makes the stations less efficient and is a bane to passengers switching to an opposite-direction bus, deciding they don’t have time to go to their original destination so they go to another instead, or going down the wrong stairway. it also makes the stations wider than they’d otherwise be, for those who think small is beautiful.

      “the method of fully-reserved busways consciously designed for conversion to rail is our best approach.”

      Are you talking about the second downtown tunnel or busways elsewhere? Where else can we put a busway?

      1. Sorry I didn’t make that clearer, Mike. My main thought is that given inevitable delays beyond our control over 25 years, it’s a good approach to build our new system so that every segment can start carrying passengers as soon as possible. Longer voter life expectancy, more pressure on ST-3.

        But I don’t think any place in the region, starting with Second Avenue, approaches conditions that created the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel.Space constraints through Downtown Seattle required a subway graded and curved to handle regional light rail. For which suburban subareas, and Kemper Freeman’s taxes, would have to help pay.

        Portland and San Francisco were born with silver rail-spikes for pacifiers. Added to terrain and waterways, our stingy inheritance of existing right of way made freeway buses with trolleypoles our only choice. No hybrids in 1990. Still surprised that so many non-Seattlites agreed, and for 26 years next Thursday, never “bailed.”

        Excuse or not, retrograde platforms and similar owe to accurate call on how long we’d need buses. Conversion- we lucked out. 2005 saw both low-floor buses and railcars that could do regional speed. Price for platform raising or wheelchair lift continuing…don’t go there. Subprime operations? As inexcusably retrograde as they are repairable.

        Second Avenue tunnel- not even close. But ST-3 features many miles of rail, with some surface operation, which can possibly do (real) bus rapid transit ’til trains arrive. Maybe letting us leave ideology fight to help the US Congress let Zika solve the world population problem. For us, any special approach a case-by-case decision.

        Main point- especially when we’re on the phone bank to voters- is to convince Lynnwood and Everett they’ll be spared the health-risks of rush hour driving long before their exercise and eating habits kill them.


      2. The ST3 tunnel is under Fifth Avenue. Previous studies had Second but at some point Fifth won out.

  5. Some corrections: We failed 2 ballot measures, one in 2010 I think it was, and the other narrowly in 2012 (Its my firm belief that if we had a better spot on the ballot we would have passed). Route 51 still continues through the Lakewood Transit Center, and instead of ending at the Sounder station had its “tail” flipped the other direction to serve the neighborhood in-between JBLM.

  6. Thanks for the word on the Tunnel route, Mike. But both avenues are equally unlikely ever to have buses running under them.

    I really think that one reason operations never got tightened up was that everybody misjudged how long the buses would really be needed.

    The real core of the DSTT was a rail tunnel, which temporarily had to carry buses. At serious expense and complication. To be avoided if at all possible. In our case, it wasn’t possible. We were lucky, though, that Pine and Third Avenue connected fairly easily with I-5 and I-90 at the portals.

    So I’d never say that every rail right of way on either side of the ground be configured for buses. Pretty much the opposite, that every high speed busway be designed for eventual conversion to rail- since passenger loads will eventually require coupled vehicles.

    Another possible example I’ve mentioned is building out the southbound bus lane between Northgate and Downtown, and other measures to get passengers service that will start adjusting development so as to be ready when the buses get replaced with trains.

    But serious criteria: as much as possible, every service phase should be designed to lead smoothly into the next one.


    1. Struggling to figure out the relevance to improvements on the Pierce Transit system. Nope, still not seeing the relationship.

  7. Next Pierce Transit needs to do a complete overhaul of its North Tacoma routes. While the street network is mostly a square grid, the PT routes run every which way, making some pretty bizarre turns. I’d like to see straight-line routes on 30th, 21st, and possibly one on N 11th, rather than the existing 11,13,14,16.

    1. Now that the tunnel is gone and larger vehicles can go that way, it would be interesting to see what would happen with a Ruston Way express that connects downtown with some convenient point that could act as a transit center.

    2. Route 13 used to run all the way to Pearl Street, and years before that the 13B used to run on 26th all the way to Pearl. Route 11 had its 100+ year old routing until 2010/2011 when it got straightened out and connected the north end with the 6th Ave business district instead of having a transfer and the 16 got a more straighter route. At the same time the 13 was shortened, and the 14 was created taking over the end of the 16 that would have been left unserved. As I understand it, the north end is a very transit friendly area, but they just don’t ride the bus.

  8. With 4 years of hindsight, seems that shrinking the service area was a bad move. It didn’t pass any funding measures, and leaves these idiotic service gaps in east Pierce County, and this bizarre situation where these cities are included in ST but not Pierce. I wonder if these communities would go for a ST-PT swap, where they simultaneously leave ST and join PT.

    1. The service boundary is a direct result of the cities wants and wishes. The Public Transportation Improvement conference was formed, and each city got a vote on if they wished to stay in or not. Pierce county had a representative on the council and the county area was a direct result of what this representative wanted. I was there when each city chose to stay in or leave the district. The vote was binding and that one person had the authority to stay in or leave. As I recall, everyone expected Sumner to stay in, and that’s even what they talked about. But at the last minute, Dave Enslow their representative on the PTIC chose to leave the PTIC and just like that they were gone. The only way for them to come back in is a vote of the people. I think this has since been changed. As for a “swap” I find that highly unlikely. The cities and areas that left were not well served by PT, although most don’t have much ST service either. However, most of the people in those areas do not need local bus service, but can use regional service to commute to jobs. This also created an interesting situation and somewhat of a hardship in Bonney lake, where PT wound up selling the P&R lot to Sound Transit, and Sound Transit assumed operation of what’s now the 596 for Sounder Riders to get to Sumner, a line PT was going to abandon because it was now outside the service area.

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