A white, blue, and green bus runs with a not in service sign.
Operator shortages have forced Pierce Transit to cut back on service . (Credit: Atomic Taco, Creative Commons)

Pandemic impacts are lingering and hitting transit hard as operator shortages persist. Pierce Transit has announced a round of temporary service reductions because of those shortages that will go into effect as soon as Sunday. Pierce Transit’s bus routes will be impacted, as well as routes the agency operates on behalf of Sound Transit. As a result, rider impacts will be felt across Pierce County and portions of King County.

In a statement, Pierce Transit leveled with riders on how the shortage is impacting service and why a formal service change reduction is necessary. “Like many transportation providers across the state and nation, Pierce Transit is experiencing a driver shortage. As a result, the agency has been missing and delaying some bus trips, leading to uncertainty and inconvenience for customers,” the agency wrote. “Pierce Transit makes it a priority to provide customers with predictable, accurate schedule information. Reducing the frequency of service along some routes will give riders a schedule they can rely on, even if it offers fewer trip options.” The agency also noted that many operators are currently working overtime to cover trips and that there is an active recruitment effort underway to fill open positions. However, the process to hire and then train operators is about 10 weeks.

Pierce Transit will implement service reductions and revisions on 13 routes beginning on Sunday, November 7th. The changes are as follows:

RoutesChanges
1Service will operate every 30 minutes weekdays and on Saturdays.
2Service will operate every 30 minutes weekdays.
11Service will operate every 60 minutes weekdays, except certain morning and evening trips retained for students.
16Service will operate every 60 minutes weekdays.
400Schedules will be adjusted, but there will be no service reduction.
500Service will operate every 60 minutes weekdays and on Saturdays.
566Service will be reduced with fewer morning and evening peak-hour trips, including elimination of “reverse peak” trips (southbound in the morning, northbound in the afternoon).
577Service will be reduced to every 10 to 15 minutes.
578Small trip time adjustments will be made.
580This route will only operate between Puyallup Station and South Hill Park-and-Ride.
590Service will be reduced with fewer morning and evening peak-hour trips to every 10 to 15 minutes.
592Service will be reduced with fewer trips and revised times.
594Small trip time adjustments will be made.

As a means of thanking riders amid this rough time, Pierce Transit will be offering free rides on buses and paratransit shuttles on November 7th, 8th, and 9th.

Pierce Transit does plan to restore service as soon as possible, but that will depend on where staffing levels are at. There could also be further adjustments ahead as needed, so riders would be wise to sign up for alerts.

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Senior Reporter

Stephen is a professional urban planner in Puget Sound with a passion for sustainable, livable, and diverse cities. He is especially interested in how policies, regulations, and programs can promote positive outcomes for communities. With stints in great cities like Bellingham and Cork, Stephen currently lives in Seattle. He primarily covers land use and transportation issues and has been with The Urbanist since 2014.