The “Mountain” station design option (Pierce Transit)

Pierce Transit has released a new virtual open house for its bus rapid transit project, which is in the middle of final design. The bus rapid transit line will travel along 14 miles of Pacific Avenue (State Route 7) from Downtown Tacoma and Tacoma Dome Station to Spanaway, replacing the popular Route 1. The agency hopes to begin construction next year and open in 2023, which remains unchanged at the moment despite the pandemic and its financial effects.

The Pacific Avenue bus rapid transit line, which has not been named or branded yet, will take some cues from Community Transit’s Swift lines rather than RapidRide. Stations will be spaced a quarer-mile apart and feature off-board fare payment (including ticket-vending machines), allowing for all-door level boarding from its raised platforms. The buses will have on-board bicycle racks, more capacity than normal Route 1 coaches, and come at a frequency of 10 to 15 minutes.

The buses will also benefit from exclusive lanes and BAT lanes that run for about 7 miles in the south Tacoma section of the Pacific Avenue corridor. Transit priority signals are also in the works, which would provide overrides for buses and allow for the addition of queue jumps at intersections outside of the exclusive lane corridor.

The project is estimated to cost $150 million and will be funded by a mix of grants from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and Sound Transit, the latter part of the ST3 package for the Pierce County subarea. Sound Transit approved its $60 million share in August, while Pierce Transit has reportedly secured $30 million in other funding. This leaves a Small Starts grant from the FTA to cover the remaining $60 million, which Pierce Transit has already applied for.

BRT lane configuration and stations (Pierce Transit)

The BRT service will have 33 stations from Downtown Tacoma to Spanaway, mainly staying on the Pacific Avenue Corridor. A new transit center will be built in Spanaway with a small park-and-ride, but the service is otherwise meant to serve local demand. Buses will divert to serve Tacoma Dome Station and also switch to Market Street in Downtown Tacoma, which is two blocks uphill from the Commerce Street transit mall. Riders from regional services like ST Express and Tacoma Link will be able to transfer at Tacoma Dome Station and the north end of the Commerce Street transit mall, where BRT buses will loop around and terminate.

Buses will generally run in mixed traffic on sections of the route in Downtown Tacoma and on the south side of State Route 512, totaling 7.5 miles. A BAT lane will be used around the Military Road junction in Spanaway and on S. 26th Street near the Tacoma Dome. The section between S. 121st Street and S. 34th Street will have buses serving stations in the median of Pacific Avenue, alternating between mixed traffic (1.3 miles) and exclusive median lanes (3.9 miles in total). The street’s overpass over State Route 512 will feature a bi-directional exclusive median lane for buses to compensate for the limited width on the bridge.

The use of stations and exclusive lanes in the median is a fairly new concept for BRT in the Puget Sound region, but has a proven track record nationally. The Emerald Express (EmX) in Eugene, Oregon, uses a network of exclusive median lanes, which also includes specialized signals for turning traffic. The median option is feasible for suburban streets as wide as Pacific Avenue, which is generally 80 feet with five lanes. However, Pierce Transit will be removing some street parking and expanding the street’s right-of-way to make room for the exclusive BRT lanes.

The Suspension station design (Pierce Transit)

As part of this month’s survey, Pierce Transit is also asking for feedback on two station designs that are inspired by local landmarks.

The Suspension design, pictured above, is an obvious reference to the county’s bridges. While the Tacoma Narrows Bridge is the most famous in the area, the station concept uses a cable-stayed design similar to Tacoma’s SR 509 Bridge. The preliminary design has a small bench integrated into the column.

The Mountain station design (Pierce Transit)

The Mountain design is inspired by the silhouette of Mount Rainier and is painted in blue with a light green accent. It has two columns, one of which is slanted in a manner that would be ideal for leaning, and a separate bench.

All station designs feature a real-time arrivals sign, ticket vending machines, ORCA card readers, and prominent lighting for visibility. The survey includes a section where other features are ranked, from noise buffers and seating to parking. A third option, called “Ripples”, was brought up at community meetings in March but is absent from this survey.

Pierce Transit is taking feedback on station designs, station amenities, and bus features via its website and its normal customer service hotline.

42 Replies to “Pierce Transit’s first bus rapid transit line to split between mixed and exclusive lanes”

  1. Excellent. Public health permitting, will finally be able to visit North Lights Coffee, corner of C Street and Garfield in Parkland, with a fast bus ride from Tacoma. One-block walk from the upcoming Rapid Ride.

    Expanding my transit-easy Tacoma Espresso District from its present configuration, which for six years has included Corina Bakery, Bostwick Cafe, and most transit-friendly of all, the Anthem Cafe just over the bridge from the Glass Museum.

    All a ten minute streetcar ride from transit-futured Tacoma Dome Station meaning that in addition to Intercity Transit, its ST 574 Sea-Tac Link transfer that takes my ORCA card expansively Regionwide as we speak. PiercePolitics(tm)? The Chinese are in Israel working on a vaccine as I write.

    Mark Dublin

  2. Some of those median loading segment concepts are pretty funky — I mean creative.

    It appears to stop lots of times too. I’m not sure what’s so “rapid” about the entire line composed of stops closely spaced.

    The awnings are cool though. It’s nice to see a modern design with character (as opposed to what often gets built which is blandly “clean”).

    1. They aren’t that closely spaced. Most bus stops in the U. S. are really close together (200 meters — sometimes even closer). Outside the U. S., they are typically 400 to 600 meters. At around 6 blocks apart, that works out to 530 meters (give or take), which is on the high side.

      It is aggressive, wide stop spacing, and if anything, is a bit too widely spaced. It assumes that there will never be a crossing bus on 48th, for example. Other than that, though, I don’t see any flaws. It manages to hit all the major connecting bus service, along with potential future ones. I think they got the stops just right.

    2. The spacing is like RapidRide, not Swift. Swift stations are every 1/2 to 1 mile. RapidRide stations are 1/4 to 1/2 mile. These stations are all 1/4 mile. This makes them like Metro’s recent standard: the E in Shoreline and 80th-105th; the 10 from 4th to Broadway; University Way and 15th in the U-District). That’s further apart than Metro’s legacy stops every two blocks. The international standard for local routes is 0.25-0.33 miles and sometimes up to 0.5.

      I never expected more in Pierce County because it’s a suburban area with less volume and congestion and public expectations than in Seattle. The primary ridership market is downtown to Parkland, then Parkland to Spanaway, and finally downtown to Spanaway. So the issue is, is the downtown-Parkland and downtown Spanaway travel time acceptable? That’s relative to Piercians’ expectations and the needs of working-class travelers. Downtown-Parkland is a similar distance to Aurora Village-105th, and that takes 25 minutes. Downtown-Spanaway we can’t compare to the E because of the E’s express segments, so let’s compare it to the A. If the A were extended to TIB that would be a comparable distance. That would take 50-55 minutes by my estimate.

      Travelers prefer trips within a 30-minute window, and when it approaches an hour that starts getting long. But there are express alternatives in Lakewood via ST Express and Sounder. Those aren’t the exact same neighborhoods but they’re the same distance, and in a suburban context they may be acceptable.

      The main point is that this is better than Pierce Transit’s existing bus network.

      1. I think Bruce is wrong for two reasons (and these are quibbles). The stop spacing is more like RapidRide, but it isn’t a quarter mile either. It is more like 1/3 of a mile. It is aggressive, but well within international standards. In short, it is excellent.

  3. Looks to me like the stop-scheme is well-designed to fit the needs of the route. Spacing being more of an art, than tape-measure practice.

    But for a line like this, same for operations themselves. For lanes, stops, and signals, major element of design intent is that the bus stops only at bus stops, never red lights in between.

    One of the Missions a permanent pro-transit political lobbying group is really well suited for. Transit Riders’ Union? Transportation Choices Coalition? Doctors certainly agree that responsible Social Spacing surely covers Essential lobbying without leaving home.

    And as for everything in the system, operator training could well be the most important design element of all. Nothing against driving “By The Book.” Rules have their place. But especially for express service like this, a good coach-operator drives mainly by The Feel of the Wheel.

    Extra training time starts paying itself back in efficiency soon as trainee first puts the Rubber to the Road. And certainly including mask and spacing compliance, a road-confident driver carries their own passenger-compliance in his or her every motion.

    Mark Dublin

  4. I’m not a fan of the detour to the Tacoma Dome. That doesn’t exist now, and I think lots of riders will object to an extra 8 minute delay* getting to downtown. There is really nothing at the Tacoma Dome worth the detour.

    The 590 and 594 go to downtown Tacoma, so there are only two connections, Sounder and the 574. Here are some ridership numbers (the numbers for the 574 are for both directions, boarding and alighting, combined):

    574 — 900 riders a day
    Sounder — 2,400 riders a day
    Pierce Transit 1 — 5,300 riders a day

    At most Pierce Transit should run an extra bus along Pacific right to the Tacoma Dome during rush hour, specifically to serve Sounder riders. It could even cherry pick the most popular stations, and run as an express. But people headed to downtown Tacoma — or those who just want more frequency in general — should be able to avoid the detour. It is bizarre to think that it is quite possible that lots of existing riders will suddenly have a much slower ride to their destination after spending money on “BRT”.

    * The 8 minute delay is based on a 7 minute drive without traffic (https://goo.gl/maps/aPbHVTeK8qH6fZEw7) along with another minute for the two extra stops. In reality it will probably take 10 minutes during rush hour, since it will be running in mixed traffic the entire time.

    1. With you 100% on the Tacoma Dome detour, Ross. Two minute streetcar ride to Pacific Avenue. Only a few minutes more to variety of comfortable “waits” in the middle of Downtown Tacoma.

      Considering the number of people already riding the existing route, shouldn’t be hard to generate a correction long before service starts. However, how ’bout this for a cure:

      Give the expresses privileged access to the fully-reserved, signal-preempted streetcar right of way the whole length of Downtown. Pacific Avenue platform stop could be given a bus-extension to take care of the floor-level difference.

      And where needed, any track that’s not bus-shareable -grooved rail, Make It So. Really sorry I don’t vote in Tacoma. But given how little civil structure would really have to be modified, any ROW or stop-conversion should pay for itself in cured delays in the first month.

      Any suggestion whom I can contact?

      Mark Dublin

    2. Yeah, that detour is bad. I could see it if the 594 didn’t serve downtown Tacoma, but it does.

      Detours like this are the kind things that make start thinking about anything, anything I can do to avoid it, including paying for an Uber ride. To put into perspective, if a road closure forced a detour like that on people’s car commutes, they’d be working 24/7 to get it fixed and reopen the road ASAP.

      1. What if the 594 were also given streetcar-access paving, platform, and preemption privileges?

        As a former Metro driver and a years’-long Tacoma visitor, and IT, ST, Sounder and Tacoma Link passenger, this all looks both easy to do and magnetically appealing to transit, passengers, and the public alike.

        While my contacts aren’t many, outside chance I might also be able to get Pierce County Councilmember Pam Roach back the admittance to the Capitol that her fellow Republicans deprived her of and made sure the closing door hastened her departure from behind.

        CO(R)VID providing (those birds are really legendary), I’ll treat her to espresso at the Anthem first opportunity.

        Mark Dublin

    3. Seems like PT should commit to one or the other. Go directly into downtown without the detour, or just terminate at Tacoma Dome. Either way, the streetcar and other routes can take care of the ‘last mile’ for for the destination not directly served.

      I don’t have a strong opinion, but Ross’ suggestion makes good sense. Downtown should be an all-day destination, while Tacoma Dome will be peak oriented because of Sounder.

      You could have two routes that run the full length of Pacific Ave south of this ‘junction’ during peak times, to provide strong frequency along most of the corridor, with one terminating at Tacoma Dome and another serving downtown directly. Off peak the Tacoma Dome route goes away, providing a natural drop of frequency outside of of peak.

      As Ross suggests, this “Tacoma Dome” route could be an express overlay. Would perhaps looks a bit like the SWIFT Blue and the 101, if the Swift route wasn’t all day?

    4. I think serving TDS is inevitable. For the past several years, Pierce Transit was promoting 10th and Commerce as the main transfer point. But with more service to transfer to being at TDS now (and much more in the future, considering that Tacoma Link is being expanded and Central Link will terminate at TDS), it makes much more sense to shift the main transfer point to TDS, and 10th and Commerce can be served with overlapping frequency by “tails” of routes that terminate in Tacoma, plus T-Link.

      I feel like they could make the loop a little better. The route as depicted has an excessive amount of turns and is more circuitous than it could be. The problem is that S 25th street is one way. One thing that would improve the loop greatly is to remove parking from 25th by TDS, and use the space to move the general purpose lane to the curb, and stick a contraflow BRT-only lane in between the GP lane and the tracks. Both directions of BRT could loop clockwise and make use of the dedicated lane. The BRT already will use 25th to get to Jefferson anyway, so that works well. The A street stop would simply be moved to south 25th street.

      Since this is BRT, there is already more willingness than usual (zero) to make people angry by removing parking, but in this case it’s not very difficult at all to reserve 10 or so spaces in the giant Sound Transit parking garage right across the street for Freighthouse Square use.

      1. Alex, what I’m proposing will serve Tacoma Dome Station a lot better than the traffic-choked bus diversion now in the plans.

        Easy visual: call up Tacoma on google-map, and zero in on the visible streetcar tracks as they slalom from Convention Center station to the main Pacific Avenue car-stop at the Anthem Cafe and its attendant museums.

        What a streetcar can handle, add grooved rail pavement an so can both the 594 if still wanted, and the new express buses. Signal and stop-light preempt comfortably included. Like what I see in drivers aboard both Pierce Transit and Link.

        So as driver and really loyal passenger, that loop’s an expensive mistake that needs to be fought.

        Mark Dublin

      2. For the past several years, Pierce Transit was promoting 10th and Commerce as the main transfer point. But with more service to transfer to being at TDS now …

        There are multiple transfer points within the Pierce County system (https://piercetransit.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=5e122c82aab449f9acf4ce14b596d394).

        But what about people who have no interest in transferring, but simply want a bus that goes on the main corridor (SR 7) right into downtown? This is huge detour, and very few riders will benefit.

        If we want to talk about transfers, you simply can’t fight basic geography. If you are headed north, or northwest — where so much of Tacoma is — then the Tacoma Dome is a detour. Keep in mind that Pierce County’s most popular bus — by far — is the 1, which goes on Pacific, does a dogleg on 9th, then heads west on 6th. It carries 5,300 riders — more than all the Tacoma Dome ridership combined. The northwestern part of that line will be split. That is inevitable. But forcing those riders to also detour is not just an arbitrary transfer option, it is an extra ten minutes *on top of* the transfer. Likewise, the 2 is the second most popular Pierce County bus. It has about half the ridership of the 1, but still has about 1,000 more riders than every other bus in the system. It runs on 19th — again, a bus that heads westward from downtown. Someone trying to get from their apartment on Pacific to the dialysis clinic on 19th doesn’t really care where the transfer point is — as long as it doesn’t involve a huge detour. Unfortunately, with this change, it will.

        It matters, geographically, where the transfer point is. You don’t want the transfer to involve lots of backtracking. You wouldn’t someone from Aurora, for example, to have to go all the way down to SoDo, then all the way back before they can get to First Hill. Unfortunately, this is what is in store for Tacoma.

        It is perverted, and clearly intended to prop up the fundamentally weak transit options provided to Tacoma by Sound Transit. Pierce County will be forced to either ignore what is otherwise a very good bus line, or see their most popular line bastardized. That is a very tough choice for an agency struggling to make ends meet, and one that could be eliminated if they simply had the bus continue straight.

        I honestly don’t know what I would do, if I was a planner for Pierce Transit. It seems crazy to keep running the 1, and yet it would be substantially faster for a lot of riders. Meanwhile, you still have to backfill the service on 6th. Maybe you run a smaller version of the 1, truncated at … PLU maybe? It’s tough.

        On the other hand, imagine if this “BRT” bus just kept going on Pacific, right to downtown. In that case, it would be easy. Just run a bus on the northern part of the 1, and have it overlap, but then go to the Tacoma Dome. That gives you yet another bus to the Tacoma Dome, and a reasonably popular one at that.

        Of course, bus routes can be corrected. But as this stands, don’t be surprised if bus ridership actually goes down after this relatively large investment in otherwise outstanding bus infrastructure. Oops.

      3. The Tacoma Dome deviation is just restoring a lost Stop. The 1 used to serve the Tacoma Dome Station but was cut to allow PT to keep more frequent service on the on due to budget cuts. and with the move from Pacific to Market the deviation will like only be about 5 minutes not 8. it will also Connect the Businesses on Market with the Tacoma Dome making routes 41, 500 and 501 more appealing for commuters in to Downtown Tacoma

    5. I think that the ultimate solution would be for the second Link station proposed to be east of Tacoma Dome to instead be west or northwest of Tacoma Dome (or add a new station) so that Tacoma Dome isn’t the end station. That gets expensive though.

      A fallback would be to push the Line 1 Tacoma Dome Link end station slightly west, say under I-705. That would put a Pacific Avenue only a few hundred feet away so that the BRT route jog wouldn’t be needed. That could then also allow for cross-platform to Line T if that connection was also better thought out.

      Of course, without a good station transit access master plan, every agency is left trying to make the best Incremental decision on stops and routing of a suboptimal situation. That’s the default way this is playing out. It’s akin to putting individual rooms for a house on a larger piece of property as separate buildings without thinking about how they should work together.

      1. Much longer term, but yes I see a Link station at 25th and Pacific which resolves all of this. But I’m not sure it make sense to pull the initial Link station away from the Sounder/Amtrak station, b/c isn’t that a key destination itself?

        With stations at Pacific and Freighthouse Square, stop spacing would be comparable to ID and Pioneer Square stations. Looking at Tacoma’s long term plans, the Brewery District is a distinct neighborhood from the Dome and having three stations with close stop spacing (including East Tacoma station) seems appropriate for the 2nd largest urban core to be served by Link.

        You could pull the station west of D street, but then you lose much of the station’s prime walk-shed to 705, effectively making the station a freeway alignment albeit perpendicular to the freeway. If there wasn’t the freeway, sure you could split the baby and put the station a reasonable walk to both destinations, but with the freeway there I think it would be better to serve both destinations directly and thereby better support TOD.

        You really think the planning staffs at PT and ST don’t talk to each other? I know commentators like to believe none of the cities or agencies have long term plans and ST is just politicians with crayons, but page 35 clearly marks Pacific Ave as the north-south multi-modal corridor and the Link/Amtrak/Sounder/Greyhound transfer node several blocks east of 705, as of 2015
        https://cms.cityoftacoma.org/Planning/OneTacomaPlan/1-12Downtown.pdf

        Following 2.3G.1, I hit up Google and found PT’s Destination 2040, and sure enough all the diagrams show a north-south corridor on Pacific Ave and the intermodal station over at Freight-house Square. So someone put together a 66 page long term plan for PT and no-one bothered to move the Link station or the BRT route.

      2. They talk to each other but it’s curious why the bus bays are in such a godawful location. The line is making a U-shaped turn into it, on the side away from downtown. Every bus coming down from Commerce or Pacific Street, which is most of them, will have to do this. Shouldn’t it have been the first priority of the BRT to put the entrance on the west side? Maybe it will change later, but it’s disturbing that PT thinks it’s good enough for this stage.

      3. Yeah I don’t have thoughts on the specific alignment, I’m not familiar enough with the area to know if there is a better way to send the buses in and out, and there’s presumably room for improvement this early in the process. The Link station design is also at 10% so specifics will evolve on that end so PT doesn’t even have a fixed station location to plan against.

        In that senses Al’s metaphor is right, insofar as these two rooms are being designed at the same time so you don’t yet know where to put the door.

      4. The entire transit center is being redesigned for Link, the 1, the Tacoma Link upgrade, Sounder improvements, and the Amtrak station relocation (if that’s still happening). The BRT project should be specifying what it needs and expects in the redesign, not just plugging in the existing transit center and letting ST make the decisions without input.

      5. Or maybe — call me crazy now — just accept the fact that a minority of transit riders are not trying to go to a different city, but are actually trying to travel *within* that city. Run a handful of rush hour express buses to commuter rail lines, or even run an additional rush hour express bus directly from Pacific Avenue to downtown Seattle, if you think it will get decent ridership. But stop trying to pretend that everyone in Tacoma just wants to get out of town.

      6. The key word in my comment is “incremental”.

        Tacoma Dome was set up as a bus-train transfer hub years ago before anyone ever thought Link would go there. Then, Tacoma Link was laid out. Then Link in ST3 was laid out. Then this BRT project is now laid out.

        With each step, the prior siting decision was “fixed”. No one sat back and said “we need a comprehensive plan for transferring pedestrians” that considered whether to move an existing feature to accommodate a new one. No one dared to demand an alternative that moved T-Tacoma platform to be a 20-foot level walk from a Line 1 platform by changing that stop location, for example. Station site for Tacoma Dome Link were actually tossed because they were too far from existing bus bays — rather than consider moving the bays!

        It was incremental decision-making that led to the terrible layout at Mt Baker. It was incremental decision-making that led to the eventual FHSC inane operation with streetcars stuck in traffic. It was incremental decision/making that will make every Link rider transferring to a bus in Downtown Bellevue walk across 110th Ave NE and Stride having to be split into two lines there.

        Now there is nothing wrong when the investment is low-cost to do things incrementally — but when we are dropping hundreds of millions of dollars on a Link station. A more comprehensive look is appropriate. After all, the riders will have to likely live with the results for 50-100 years.

      7. Agreed, Mt Baker is a good counter example. The TC should have been moved when Link was put in, or at least an investment in better integration with the Link station for seamless transfers. Back then, ST was probably excessively budget conscious and was penny wise, pound foolish to not invest in better KCM facilities.

        Today, ST not only have much healthier financials and broader public support for investing beyond their narrow mandate (hello, WSDOT interchanges), they are actually funding much of the PT project itself. So hopefully there is a much bigger appetite to do things like move the Transit Center.

        Is there another example of ST moving an existing transit center for better integration? For major nodes like Lynnwood and Bellevue, the Link-Bus transfer design seems solid but ST basically designed around the existing bus bay location. 185th street will sorta displace the Aurora TC, but that’s different b/c the old TC likely won’t go away.

        I’ll still be optimistic and say that PT and ST staff simply haven’t gotten this granular in their project designs yet and some of these issue you are anticipating will be identified in future workshops.

        I wonder if the underpass of G street is considered important by the planners? A simple design would be to have the BRT but use D street as their turnaround and use the existing 574 bus stop, but I’m wondering if planner are discounting that because they don’t want to bus delayed by the at grade rail crossing. Basically, is this design saying that the longer loop to the existing TC mitigated by avoiding a direct conflict with the rail?

      8. Downtown Redmond Link station seems to include a relocated transit center. The layout shows new bus bays right at the bottom of the stairs/escalators with one level change. I’d point to its layout as generally more optimum in several ways.

        As far as Tacoma Dome site planning goes, each recent decision is incremental even now. It’s certainly possible or even hopeful that someone in power will advocate for a more comprehensive look — but that seems unlikely without a pushy advocate. The molds are already built and won’t be tossed in later designs unless forced.

        All it takes is a willingness to “un-fix” each transit mode from the station flow planning. Maybe this BRT layout challenge will spur a multi-agency interest in doing that.

        If the effort to rethink bus circulation is made, the way that the station will be accessed from express buses on the freeway system could also be included. That could even help improve ST’s tarnished Pierce County image.

      9. “Tacoma Dome was set up as a bus-train transfer hub years ago before anyone ever thought Link would go there.”

        Rapid transit to Tacoma Dome and Everett Station and TBD Redmond were the primary motivation for the creation of Sound Transit. Sounder was not the motivation; it was low-hanging fruit that was recognized early. You can say that in the early 1990s Tacoma Dome and Everett Station were just placeholders pending further study because the station decisions wouldn’t be made for decades, but at the time they were considered the most likely stations. As to why existing P&Rs were chosen, that was the mindset then; it’s the same reason Northgate Station and Shoreline South/145th Stations are where they are. Partly because it was assumed most people would drive to the station, and partly because the land was already publicly owned for transit so it would avoid acquisition costs.

      10. FWIW, I see the basic flaw to be the “choice” to leave the bus bays at 24th/ Puyallup and G. It’s reasonable to have had that when it was to be park-and-ride loading, but with Sounder and especially with Line 1 Link to Seattle after 2030, it’s lost that utility for the most part. There is almost nothing worthwhile adjacent to it. It’s not what I would call a stand-alone huge investment either and seems easy to relocate. It’s a legacy facility that will be an albatross because it forces buses to drive extra blocks to serve a place that will no longer be functioning as it was intended.

        I’d much rather see the buses moved to be on and south of 25th between 710 and D Streets. The T-Tacoma Streetcar tracks could be shifted north or south as needed. Then the Pacific Ave buses as well as other local buses would only have a to jog only a few blocks out of direction — saving several minutes of making a longer circuitous déviation like shown in the BRT Route map. By taking the parking lot between 25th and the tracks, there appears to be over 100 feet of width to work with.

        In sum, I would like to see PT/ ST move the bus transfer center.

      11. Good call, Redmond is a good example. There they just tucked the bus bays under the station, which made good sense given the natural circulate of Cleveland & 76th.

        The current preferred alternative places the station directly over 25th, between Freight house Square and the garages. Could then convert 25th to transit & pedestrians only, and just place the bus buys directly underneath the station, akin to Redmond? Handicap parking would need to be relocated, but then you have 3 lanes to work with – bus lane (either inbound or outbound), streetcar, and bus bays, and the bays can alternate with support columns if space gets tight.

        Another good design may be to turn D street between 25 and 26 into the transit center, akin to how Bellevue TC is basically a re-purposed 6th street. But having the track at-grade right might be a safety issue?

        Parking lot you point out is a good option, too.

        Regardless, all of these designs are still very much on the table this early in the design process. Certainly good to be a squeaky wheel in the public comments, though!

  5. A piece of advice from a Swift/CT user to Pierce Transit: focus more on practical-use when designing the stations rather than architectural aesthetics. Our Swift stations are beautiful but useless as they offer almost zero protection from the wind and rain. This has been a common complaint from both customers and Swift ambassadors and has been taken into consideration when designing stations for the Orange and Red lines.

    1. That reminds me of the time I was at a public netting on a BRT proposal — and several riders showed up to beg for the glass shelter walls to protect them from the prevailing chilly wind. They commented that every minute standing at the stop felt as long as three minutes in a sheltered environment.

      It’s what happens when designers aren’t regular riders.

  6. One thing that worried me is the bi-directional bus lane. It seemed like a cost-saving measure that would reduce the reliability of service. However, (as long as they don’t make a habit of this) I don’t think it will be a problem. Looks like at most it will cost the amount of time it takes a bus to drive across a bridge across the freeway (in a completely dedicated lane, so it’ll be quick). Realistically the alternative would have been to run the buses with general traffic across the bridge, which is worse. The desire to not rebuild the bridge to be wider is understandable given the disruption and very high cost per lane-mile of BRT this would be.

    And a positive side effect of this is that it will push for barriers and obvious signage to stop drivers from using the bus lane, and drivers who are inclined to cheat in this way will probably not want to be caught stuck waiting at the bi-directional lane. I’m curious what the signaling will be like here.

    1. Yes, I think this could be a huge problem. It all depends on how porous the lanes are — so bus drivers can move out of the lane if needed. Still, if one platform is boarding riders in both directions it’s going to get quite messy.

      It also matters how long these lanes will be used. The amount of bidirectional lanes in the current proposal seems excessive for smooth operations. It’s viable for a few blocks — but the longer the segments are, the more operational disruptions will occur at an Increasingly exponential rate.

      1. There is not going to be a stop on the bi-directional lane. Since the bi-directional lane is just there to get buses across SR-512, then it should (not totally sure it will be) be a short lane with a comfortable amount of space between the adjacent stops (the diagram makes the 112th stop look much closer to the freeway than it actually is).

      2. Isn’t the bidirectional lane only 0.1 miles?

        Indianapolis’s new BRT lane has much longer bidirectional lanes for some segments, and they seem to make it work fine, though I don’t think they have frequencies higher than 10 minutes at any point during the day.

  7. The bridge design looks like Tacoma’s bridges. The mountain design doesn’t look like a mountain; it just looks crooked. To look like a mountain you’d have to fill in the inside and maybe round out the sharp points.

  8. Call up Tacoma on the Google Map. Zero in on Pacific Avenue and S. 25th Street. Find the streetcar stop a block east on 25th.

    12 minute headway to Tacoma Dome Station? Tolerable wait, since due to reserved lane and preempted signal, Link is generally on time. Also, check out how the rest of the car-line routes through Downtown Tacoma.

    At 6th Avenue in the Theater District, swings uphill past Wright Park. Often thought that climb might merit wire all the way from Spanaway, but that’s Crimean mountain streetcar blood talkin’.

    And see how easily those tires could follow grooved rail across past the Art Museum on their way to Convention Center Link Station and , say, 10th and Commerce. Lot of “haul” in a straight, crowded line.

    Same way I consider the Death of Downtown Seattle(tm) a little bit hasty of a call, not convinced that action plans for Tacoma Dome Station are going to eclipse Theater District.

    Ranging back the 46 years since I first saw Tacoma- still alive as it population broke and ran for the Mall- my call is it’s here to stay. Done right, Rapid Route 1 is a good omen.

    Mark Dublin

  9. Also meant Crimean trolleybus blood. Route 7 through the Tunnel and out I-90 to Ellensburg…12 million dollars. Only 12 million dollars. Oh, the Humanity!

    Mark Dublin

  10. Albuquerque’s center running BRT has been a disaster. People and cars getting hit, bi-directional lanes causing pedestrian confusion, no barrier to cars just turning across. I blame most of it on poor engineering, but with a new design, you have to pay attention to the details.

    Getting off both the 574 and Sounder, it seems like 90% of riders just head to the parking structure. And boy are there a lot of parking structures around there. I’m guessing that’s the reason for siting it as a hub.

    Maybe there is data out their to refute it, but I didn’t see a whole lot of folks looking to transfer to other transit.

    1. I’m sure there are lessons to be learned from ART (for example, don’t buy buses from BYD), but there’s always a learning curve with new infrastructure. Roundabouts always confused and upset people when they are built and studies show it takes 6~8 months for drives to adjust to the new traffic patterns; I’d imagine center running BRT is similarly disruptive. PT will need to have a strong outreach/communication/education plan to have a successful opening.

      Most of the Sounder ridership is probably P&R now, but any growth will need to come from transfers b/c the parking is full and no more is planned. ST’s feeder routes for other stations in Pierce work well, no reason Tacoma Dome would be any different.

    2. The Cities along Pacific have been looking putting a median down Pacific and as frequent driver of Pacific Ave it is desperately needed so hopefully it will happen

  11. re stop spacing, RossB seems correct. the other factor is underlying local service; CT provides it; Metro does not, except for some overlap due to street grid.

    re off-board fare payment, the objective should be all-door boarding and alighting; the first six RR lines use off-board fare transponders at the busiest stops; to me, the better system is used by TransLink on Route 99B and all of SF Muni: transponders on the buses. on Route 99B, there are two transponders at each rear door, allowing a snare drum tap, tap, tap of two columns of riders at all stops.

    the STB discussion of deviation is important. PT and ST could design a network of routes together. to have each route (e.g. routes 1, 574, and 594) serve all major transfer points is transfer adverse and forces through riders to sit through the deviations. does each route have to serve Lakewood, Commerce Street, and TDS? the more frequent the network, the less transfer adverse the network can be. note that decades ago, PT provided a local network with timed transfers; but due to traffic congestion and unreliable travel times (before social separation) that could not be done any longer.

    does this phrase have a typo: “S. 121st Street and S. 34th Street”?

    note that the Eugene system limits headway.

    south of the Tacoma city limits, does not SR-7 have some sidewalk issues? is someone funding sidewalks? (also see Aurora Avenue North on the E Line between North 115th and 145th streets).

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