Transit riders in Pierce County will see a major bus restructure in March, which includes a whopping 35,000 additional service hours. This comes on the heels of a half-year process to develop a community-driven transit plan. Pierce Transit, the local transit agency, whittled down options for the service change to two, which included an alternative to the restructure that would have retained routes as-is and only bumped up frequencies on select routes instead of increase span of service. Last year, Chris Karnes summarized the chosen–though then proposed–service change saying that:

The proposed restructure would simplify service and reduce route duplication in order to emphasize better peak and midday service frequency. Instead of hourly service, half hour headways would be available roughly between the hours of 6am and 6pm and service span with half hour to hourly headways thereafter would be extended to 10pm on practically all routes in urban portions of Pierce County.

Restructured Pierce Transit system effective after the March service change. (Pierce Transit)
Restructured Pierce Transit system effective after the March service change. (Pierce Transit)

The proposed service change plan sought to make improvements to much of the route network, including: Routes 10 (Pearl St), 11 (Point Defiance), 16 (University of Puget Sound-Tacoma Community College), 28 (12th St), 41 (Portland Ave-38th St), 42 (McKinley Ave), 45 (Yakima Ave), 48 (Sheridan-M St), 52 (Tacoma Community College-Tacoma Mall-Parkland), 53 (University Place), 56 (56th St), 57 (Downtown Tacoma-Tacoma Mall), 202 (72nd St), 206 (Pacific Hwy-Fort Lewis), 212 (Steilacoom), 214 (Washington), 402 (Meridian-Federal Way), and 500 (Tacoma-Federal Way). By and large, these routes will be impacted by the service change, which goes into effect on March 12th. But the changes go even deeper.

North Tacoma Changes

Highlighted changes in North Tacoma. (Pierce Transit)
Highlighted changes in North Tacoma. (Pierce Transit)

In the northern portion of Tacoma, significant changes will be made to Routes 10, 11, 13, 14, 16, and 28. These include:

  • Route 10: The route will have its alignment adjusted to serve denser ridership districts and to provide more direct service. On weekdays, the span of service and frequency will be bumped up to provide 30-minute headways between 6am and 6pm; service will also continue until 10pm.
  • Route 11: This route will have its alignment adjusted to serve denser ridership districts and reduce duplication. On weekdays, the span of service and frequency will be bumped up to provide 30-minute headways between 6am and 6pm; service will also continue until 10pm.
  • Route 13: Saturday service on this route will be eliminated, but will remain intact on weekdays with hourly service between 5.40am and 7.22pm.
  • Route 14: This route will be eliminated.
  • Route 16: This route will have its alignment adjusted to serve denser ridership districts. On weekdays, the span of service and frequency will be bumped up to provide 30-minute headways between 6am and 6pm; service will also continue until 10pm.
  • Route 28: On weekdays, the span of service and frequency will be bumped up to provide 30-minute headways between 6am and 6pm; service will also continue until 10pm.

With the adjustment of Routes 11 and 16 to serve St. Helens Ave. in downtown Tacoma, the schedules will be aligned to provide staggered 15-minute frequencies through downtown Tacoma, the Stadium District, and the Proctor District.

South Tacoma Changes

Highlighted changes in South Tacoma. (Pierce Transit)
Highlighted changes in South Tacoma. (Pierce Transit)

In the southern portion of Tacoma, significant changes will be made to Routes 41, 42, 45, 52, 53, 54, 56, and 57. These include:

  • Route 41: This route will have its alignment adjusted to provide more direct service and reduce duplication. The consolidate route, taking over some of Route 56, will operate on weekdays until 10pm extending overall service. On weekday middays, frequencies will be improved to provide 30-minute headways.
  • Route 42: On weekdays, the span of service and frequency will be bumped up to provide 30-minute headways between 6am and 6pm; service will also continue until 10pm.
  • Route 45: On weekdays, the span of service and frequency will be bumped up to provide 30-minute headways between 6am and 6pm; service will also continue until 10pm.
  • Route 52: On weekdays, span of service is extended until 10pm. One new trip will be added to Sundays, which will require adjustments to the overall schedule.
  • Route 53: This route will have its alignment adjusted to serve denser ridership districts and reduce duplication. On weekdays, the span of service and frequency will be bumped up to provide 30-minute headways between 6am and 6pm; service will also continue until 10pm.
  • Route 54: This route will have its alignment adjusted to reduce duplication. On weekdays, the span of service and frequency will remain at 30-minute headways between 6am and 6pm; span of service will be extended to 10pm.
  • Route 56: This route will be eliminated.
  • Route 57: On weekdays, span of service is extended until 10pm. Two new trips will be added to weekend service in the Tacoma Mall direction.

With the adjustment of Routes 45 and 48 (details of service change below) to Yakima Ave between S 38th St and downtown Tacoma, the schedules will be aligned to provide staggered 15-minute frequencies.

Lakewood Changes

Highlighted changes in Lakewood. (Pierce Transit)
Highlighted changes in Lakewood. (Pierce Transit)

In the the Lakewood area and points south of Tacoma, significant changes will be made to Routes 3, 4, 48, 51, 55, 202, 206, 212, 214, and 300. These include:

  • Route 3: This route will have its alignment adjusted to serve denser ridership districts and reduce duplication.
  • Route 4: to serve denser ridership districts and reduce duplication. On weekdays, span of service is extended until 10pm.
  • Route 48: This route will have its alignment adjusted. On weekdays, the span of service and frequency will be bumped up to provide 30-minute headways between 6am and 6pm; service will also continue until 10pm.
  • Route 51: This route will be eliminated.
  • Route 55: On weekdays, span of service is extended until 10pm. On Sundays, two new trips will be added with one departure at 8.45am from Parkland Transit Center and another at 6.15pm from the Tacoma Mall Transit Center.
  • Route 202: On weekdays, span of service is extended until 10pm.
  • Route 206: This route will have its alignment adjusted. On weekdays, the span of service and frequency will be bumped up to provide 30-minute headways between 6am and 6pm; service will also continue until 10pm. On Sundays, service will be improved to 40-minute headways.
  • Route 212: On weekdays, span of service is extended until 10pm.
  • Route 214: On weekdays, span of service is extended until 10pm.
  • Route 300: This route will be eliminated.

New Route 15: Point Defiance Express

On top of all of the other restructures and service improvements, the Pierce Transit Board of Directors opted to add a seasonal route between downtown Tacoma and the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium. The seasonal summer route will operate between June 2nd and September 3rd providing service every 30 minutes between 10.30am and 8.30pm on weekends and Fridays. The route will traverse from downtown Tacoma starting near the Convention Center and then heading via Schuster Pkwy and Ruston Way along Commencement Bay before heading to the zoo and aquarium by way of Ruston.

The alignment of New Route 15. (Pierce Transit)
The alignment of New Route 15. (Pierce Transit)

Other Minor Changes

Pierce Transit will make other modest adjustments to routes:

  • Route 1 will get adjustments to run times;
  • Route 400 will get an extra afternoon roundtrip on weekdays;
  • Route 402 will get improved midday frequencies on weekdays to 30-minute headways;
  • Route 500 will get midday frequencies on weekdays to 30-minute headways and have span of service extended through to 11pm
  • Route 501 will get adjustments to run times.

With the new restructure being launched, Pierce Transit will provide free introductory service from March 12th through March 18th to entice riders to try out the major network overhaul. The next few months will be critical in determining if the changes are paying off with increased ridership or faltering with fewer.

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