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Pierce Transit expands bus services

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Pierce Transit has increased bus service for routes serving Fife, Milton and Edgewood, which had been dramatically cut in 2011.

Route 402 that runs from Federal Way to Meridian now has buses running every 30 minutes with additions of five runs that focus on more frequent service during peak times. Route 500 that shuttles between Federal Way through Milton and Fife’s Highway 99 to the Tacoma Dome station has a dozen new runs, including peak-time stops to downtown Tacoma.

“Frequency matters for riders,” said Pierce Transit Government Relations Officer Justin D. Leighton.

Other routes in Pierce County’s system also received added run as the agency boosted service by 12,000 service hours or about 3 percent. The additional service marks the first time the agency boosted bus runs since the 35 percent cuts it made four years ago. Pierce Transit now provides 443,000 service hours each year, well below the peak of 621,000 in 2007.

At the end of the day, 12,000 service hours isn’t much and to spread that around a system this big is a challenge,” Leighton said, noting however, that adding runs means that the days of cuts is over and Pierce Transit has rebounded.

Almost two-dozen routes have added runs and one route was added entirely. Route 4 combines Routes 204 and 410 into one new route for better service between Lakewood, South Hill, and Pierce College-Puyallup, operating on 30-minute weekday frequency. Passengers on the former routes had to transfer between the two routes at Parkland Transit Center.

Combining the two routes into a one-seat ride was a natural improvement, saving the rider up to 10 minutes of travel time and making operations more efficient. The project had help from a $1.2 million State Regional Mobility Grant, which transformed the intersection of Pacific Avenue and 112th Street East to allow for bus pullouts and safer connections for our passengers.

“The new Route 4 will provide bus riders with a faster and more frequent trip getting across mid-county. The combination of two routes into one brings a higher degree of efficiency to our operation and service to the community; it’s a win-win for everyone,” said Pierce County Councilmember Rick Talbert, chair of Pierce Transit’s Board of Commissioners.

Pierce Transit tallies more than 10 million bus boardings and 4.9 million service miles a year.