PT 223 in the Dome District
Route 500 is among several Pierce Transit routes slated for frequency improvements on March 12.

After approving the restoration of 59,000 annual service hours in April of last year, Pierce Transit took a long and hard look at its existing route network, with some help from the public. The result is a service change scheduled for Sunday, March 12, which will affect 31 routes and add 35,000 service hours that were cut during the recession, building upon a service change from September. Some routes will be deleted and replaced with re-aligned routes, while others will see frequency bumps and later weeknight service. To make sense of the overhaul, Pierce Transit has released an interactive map of major changes that can be sorted route-by-route or by the type of service improvement; individual routes also have dashcam videos (example: Route 53), showing the drivers’ view of modified routes.

With Pierce Transit lagging behind peer agencies to the north, and a real need for better transit service to serve Pierce County’s growing population, the change will be yet another leap forward in our regional transit system. Pierce Transit is also jumping on new transit technologies, mostly funded by FTA loans, like rideshare partnerships, on-board Wi-Fi, electric buses, and better security. An additional 10,000 service hours could be added in the September 2017 service change, to complete Pierce Transit’s goal of 59,000 restored service hours in 2016 and 2017.

The full list of changes is below, after the jump.

  • Route 1 (6th Ave–Pacific): Weekday and Sunday running times are improved on trips using Pacific Avenue on the new Interstate 5 overpass.
  • Route 3 (Lakewood–Tacoma): The route will replace Route 300 on South Tacoma Way, with direct service between Downtown Tacoma, Tacoma Mall and Lakewood. New connectivity will be added at SR-512 Park & Ride.
  • Route 4 (Lakewood–South Hill): Buses will use 100th Street SW between Lakewood Transit Center and SR-512 Park & Ride instead of 108th Street SW. Weekday evening service will be extended to 10 p.m. via three new trips.
  • Route 10 (Pearl Street): Buses will no longer serve N Vassault Street, with all trips instead staying on N Pearl Street. On weekdays, mid-day trips will run every 30 minutes, and evening trips will be extended to 10 p.m.
  • Route 11 (Pt. Defiance): Buses will be re-routed in North Tacoma to reduce duplication with other routes and replace all of Route 14. On weekdays, mid-day trips will run every 30 minutes, and evening trips will be extended to 10 p.m. On weekends, a new round-trip will be added in the morning. On St. Helens Avenue, Routes 11 and 16 will combine for 15-minute frequency between the Stadium District and Downtown Tacoma.
  • Route 13 (N 30th Street): The Proctor District terminus will be modified with a new loop using N Union Avenue.
  • Route 14 (Proctor District): Route 14 is eliminated in favor of service from Route 11.
  • Route 15 (Downtown to Pt. Defiance Trolley): A new seasonal trolley shuttle will run every 30 minutes from June 2 through September 3, between Downtown Tacoma and Point Defiance on Ruston Way. It will be the first such service on Ruston Way since 1991.
  • Route 16 (North End): Buses will no longer serve N Stevens Street and N 11th Street, in favor of serving higher-ridership areas on N Pearl Street and N 26th Street. On weekdays, mid-day trips will run every 30 minutes until 6 p.m., and evening trips will be extended to 10 p.m.
  • Route 28 (S 12th Street): On weekdays, mid-day trips will run every 30 minutes, and evening trips will be extended to 10 p.m.
  • Route 41 (S 56th Street–Salishan): Buses will no longer serve the 72nd Street Transit Center, instead continuing west on S 56th Street to the Tacoma Mall. On weekdays, mid-day trips will run every 30 minutes, and evening trips will be extended to 10 p.m. On weekends, trips will begin on Commerce Street instead of terminating at Tacoma Dome Station.
  • Route 42 (McKinley Avenue): On weekdays, mid-day trips will run every 30 minutes, and evening trips will be extended to 10 p.m.
  • Route 45 (Yakima Avenue): On weekdays, mid-day trips will run every 30 minutes, and evening trips will be extended to 10 p.m.
  • Route 48 (Sheridan–M Street): Buses will use Yakima Avenue instead of G Street (serving Hilltop), and Steilacoom Boulevard in Lakewood (serving Clover Park Technical College). On weekdays, mid-day trips will run every 30 minutes, and evening trips will be extended to 10 p.m. On Yakima Avenue, Routes 45 and 48 will combine for 15-minute frequency north of S 38th Street.
  • Route 51 (Union Avenue): Route 51 is eliminated due to low ridership and performance, as well as overlapping routes. Route 206 will provide service to the Springbrook neighborhood of Lakewood.
  • Route 52 (TCC–Tacoma Mall): Weekday evening service will be extended to 10 p.m.
  • Route 53 (University Place): Route 53 will no longer run from Tacoma Mall to Downtown Tacoma, which is covered by other existing and modified routes. On weekdays, mid-day trips will run every 30 minutes until 6 p.m., and evening trips will be extended to 10 p.m. Some weekday trips will continue from Tacoma Mall as Route 55.
  • Route 54 (S 38th StreetPortland Avenue): Buses will continue on S 38th Street instead of serving S Yakima Avenue and S 48th Street. On weekdays, mid-day trips will run every 30 minutes, and evening trips will be extended to 10 p.m.
  • Route 55 (Tacoma Mall): Weekday evening service will be extended to 10 p.m. Two new trips on Sunday will be added.
  • Route 56 (S 56th Street): Route 56 is eliminated in favor of service on Routes 41 and 54.
  • Route 57 (Union–S 19th Street–Hilltop): Weekday evening service will be extended to 10 p.m. Three new trips on weekdays and two new trips on weekends will be added.
  • Route 101 (Gig Harbor Trolley): Season service returns for the summer, from June 1 through September 4. Possible detours on Route 100 (TCC–Gig Harbor–Purdy) may impact service on Route 101.
  • Route 202 (72nd Street): Weekday evening service will be extended to 10 p.m.
  • Route 206 (Pacific Highway–Tillicum–Madigan): Buses will serve the Springbrook neighborhood of Lakewood in place of Route 300. On weekdays, mid-day trips will run every 30 minutes, and evening trips will be extended to 10 p.m.
  • Route 212 (Steilacoom): Weekday evening service will be extended to 10 p.m.
  • Route 214 (Washington): Weekday evening service will be extended to 10 p.m.
  • Route 300 (S Tacoma Way): Route 300 is eliminated in favor of service on Routes 3 and 206. Service to Joint Base Lewis-McChord will be provided by the base-operated GO Transit shuttle.
  • Route 400 (Puyallup–Tacoma): Two new trips will be added on weekdays.
  • Route 402 (Meridian): On weekdays, mid-day trips will run every 30 minutes.
  • Route 500 (Tacoma–Federal Way): On weekdays, mid-day trips will run every 30 minutes, and evening trips will be extended to 11 p.m.
  • Route 501 (Milton–Federal Way): Departure times will be adjusted.

The service changes will restore a decent grid of 30-minute frequency bus routes across most of Tacoma and to major cities in the county, as seen in the map below. To celebrate the service change, Pierce Transit will provide free service from March 12 to March 18.

Map of Pierce Transit routes by mid-day weekday frequency, as of March 2017. (Pierce Transit)

20 Replies to “Pierce Transit Debuts Improved Frequency and Routes on March 12”

  1. I used to live near Brown’s Point and think it is sad that none of the service that Pierce Transit used to provide to NE Tacoma is being returned. It never was very good being a very difficult layout now with a lengthy freeway needed to route around the Port of Tacoma but it was my neighborhood. I guess it has more in common with King County than Pierce.

    That said – I am happy to see Pierce Transit finally recovering from the downturn.

    1. Currently most NE Tacoma service is provide by KC Metro number 903. I assume the two agencies have some kind of agreement to give Metro NE Tacoma and PT Edgewood, Milton & Lakeland Hills.

      1. Correct. Pierce Transit is funding route 903 west of 49th Ave NE, and it only goes to NE Tacoma during peak hours (and it follows most of the route of the old route 61, and the same route as the west portion of the old 62), and it has a times connection to the 63.

      2. The Lakeland Hills Route (PT 497) is jointly funded by Sound Transit, the City of Auburn, Pierce Transit, and King County Metro. The City had the insight to pursue the creation of this route several years before Auburn Station parking was filling to capacity each morning. The route currently serves bus stops and residents in both counties. Operation of 497 has nothing to do with Milton or Northeast Tacoma; the partnering agencies fund the costs of the route and pay PT to operate it. Logistically for riders, it would make a whole lot more sense for Metro to operate it, from a standpoint of transfers, but I believe that PT’s operating costs are lower, making the PT arrangement a better bargain for the funding agencies.

      3. Also that area Lakeland hills in the pierce county portion of auburn is covered by pierce transit. That’s the only bus in town, so it makes sense from PT’s perspective to run it.

  2. One thing I would have hoped would have happened is that PT would reorganize local Lakewood/Steilacoom service around SR 512 PR instead of Lakewood Transit Center. Either that, or have Sound Transit reorganize Seattle service (594/592) around Lakewood Transit Center. Right now local routes and Seattle routes go to two completely different locations within Lakewood, which is unacceptable.

    1. Nine routes (eight local routes and the 574) converge on the Lakewood Mall TC. The 512 Park-and-Ride doesn’t have the space for that. Plus, access is pretty difficult coming in from Pacific Highway having to turn left against traffic coming north on South Tacoma Way from the McChord gate. There would be a nasty backup of buses at the pulse times. Likewise, I don’t think you’d have enough bay space at the Lakewood Mall TC for the 592/594s. You also have the issue of 512 P-R being a key transfer point for Olympia Express riders to transfer to the 592/594.

      1. But still, something needs to be done; it’s a huge problem for people trying to get from the Lakewood region to the 592/594. You’ve pointed out that it’s somewhat difficult to address, but it doesn’t justify this fundamental lack of connectivity.

      2. Really, a lot of the problems would be fixed if the 594 went to Lakewood TC instead of Lakewood Sounder Station, exactly like the 574. Peak is a bigger challenge because 592 continues south and doesn’t terminate in Lakewood.

        But as far as off-peak is concerned, that’s easy. Move the 594 to Lakewood TC. I don’t believe for a second that Lakewood TC is so strained by PT’s amazing ultra-frequent service that two extra buses per hour (plus layover space for one bus) will push it to any sort of breaking point.

    2. @AlexKven With some minor expansion, I think the Local PT routes should be re-organized around Lakewood Station myself. 512 P&R is slated to go away if/when the I5/512 I/C is ever rebuilt, plus its an older and more limited facility with difficult access. Lakewood station however could have the platforms extended or a 2nd set built for local service. The same situation applies to Tacoma and Puyallup as well. Sound Transit hubs service at TDS in Tacoma, yet all the local buses are on pacific avenue, which is not an easy and quick walk if LINK isn’t running, and in Puyallup, much like Lakewood you have a Train Station, two park and rides, and a PT Transit Center. Personally, I think by consolidating facilities in Lakewood and Puyallup you could realize a significant cost savings by being able to share out the costs for facility maintenance, security, etc. In addition to convenience to the riders who which to go regionally. Also, not to mention the roughly 30 minutes saved each round trip from the 574s not having to go to the mall. This brings up an interesting point about PT/ST connections vs. KCM/ST connections. In counties to the north, everyone uses common facility’s for major transfer points. The former transit centers and P&Rs in the king county suburbs have been reduced to secondary facilities, and the newer ST facilities made the primary facilities, whereas PT has kept the same model since the early 1980s with their many transit centers at shopping malls, etc. with the ST facilities being the secondary in the county. It would be a radical change for Pierce county, but long term to get out of those leases and into more favorable agreements with ST I think would have been the better way to go, but not until the next system redesign project in how many ever years.

      1. Here Here! as a Olympian, I get annoyed that 512 is the primary focus of inter-city’s transit service even though the 594 serves both the lakewood station and 512… Espeically considering the “mid-day” sounder runs that now run, it seems sensible to focus on the nicer, amenity filled station (that actually shields you from the rain on all platforms) instead of a janky transit center amongst fast food.

      2. “The former transit centers and P&Rs in the king county suburbs have been reduced to secondary facilities, and the newer ST facilities made the primary facilities, whereas PT has kept the same model since the early 1980s with their many transit centers at shopping malls, etc. with the ST facilities being the secondary in the county.”

        I’m not sure this is true. The transit centers and P&Rs I use most were all built without ST: Bellevuue, South Bellevue, Northgate, Aurora Village, Mountlake Terrace. Bothell P&R, UW Bothell. ST just uses them if it has service in the area.

        ST may have been involved in moving Federal Way TC and building Issaquah TC, and I’ve never understood the changes at Overlake Village (first a P&R opened then it closed and moved?) And I don’t think Lynnwood really had a transit center before ST, just the 44th P&R which may or may not have been on the same place.

        So when I see PT P&Rs at Tacoma CC, Tacoma Mall, Lakewood, and Parkland, they’re not that much different from King County’s, and they’re in the right places: at the neighborhood centers where you can go somewhere while you wait and if that’s your destination you don’t have to transfer. The problem is more where the ST stations are. But that was constrained by the BNSF track, which is not at city centers. I’ve thought on and off about Tacoma Dome station’s isolation, the inability of north-south buses to reach it without detouring, or a 19th Street bus to serve both it and downtown. I haven’t come up with any good answers except Tacoma’s plan to put housing in the area, which I hope will be extensive.

      3. “PT P&Rs”

        PT transit centers. Transit centers should be in neighborhood centers like streetcar-suburb stations used to be. Park & rides should be outside neighborhood centers to keep cars away. An extra station at a P&R is better than a P&R in a neighborhood center.

        Also, Northgate and Southcenter transit centers used to be inside the mall parking lot next to the Bon Marche entrance, but in the 1990s they were moved out to the street or to the next block. That was without ST though.

    3. The DuPont to Tacoma main line, even with added Amtrak service, doesn’t have that many trains. If something along the lines of a Stadler GTW (see New Jersey RiverLINE) were put into service there every half hour off-peak then that could be the main trunk line, separated from I-5, for service all the time.

      1. Problem with that is that it’s Sound Transit on the rails, not Pierce Transit. Which means that people have to pay two fares or use ORCA. Also, I don’t think that there’s enough mid-day demand out that way to support even a bus. Notice that the farthest that way any bus goes is the north shore of American Lake. The base also gets once an hour service to the logistics gate and what looks like Madigan.

      2. Demand for Dupont certainly exists. However, Dupont is not in PT’s service area, and there really aren’t many places to go to down there that aren’t in Dupont.

      3. Du Pont Sounder station is in ST3. Due to the lack fo buses I’ve never been to the town ot Du Pont or the JBLM entrance so I’m not sure away they are from the nearest station or TC. But even if Du Pont town and Thurston County are outside the ST district, we need to get over putting a station right inside the districts edge and just do it. It would help regional transit as a whole to have it, and it’s a natural step toward extending ST service to Olympia someday. (I didn’t say Thurston joining the ST district. Any entity in Olympia can pay for bus/train extensions without necessarily enlarging the district.)

    4. I think what st wants is consistency. Since 592 and 594 essentially serve the same purpose it makes sense for them both to cover the same path through lakewood. Miss the last 592? Gotta walk from Sr 512 park and ride to the sounder station if you parked there.

  3. Amazing that their review had nothing in it for connector buses at Pierce County Sounder stations. How much revenue does PT lose by ignoring what is potentially thousands of bus users?

    Why are they ignoring Sounder riders? They’ve had 15 odd years to align timetables with the trains, yet buses still pull away out of Sounder stations as the train arrives.

    1. Connector buses from where? There are not a lot of sizeable P&R lots in Pierce County, and the ones there are, are served by ST. Most of them are very small, under 75 cars, in comparison to the 2-300 car lots ST builds. That would be a LOT of service added for not a lot of additional spaces.

      This is a little bit more complicated issue than it appears. Yes, I agree integration should be a LOT better than it currently is, however in order to meet all the trains the connections at the transit center’s would have to be broke, which would cause difficulty for the existing ridership base who depend on these services. Also, in order to meet the trains a LOT more service would have to be added to meet all the trains. And by the way I agree with you, there is much work to be done in that area, starting with consolidation of facilities and moving on to add frequencies to meet trains.

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