Pierce Transit revises vanpool program

The Pierce Transit Board of Commissioners passed two policy changes Monday related to vanpool services.

Starting May 1, vanpool monthly fares will increase from between $2 to $55 per user based on the number of participants in a vanpool group and daily roundtrip miles. Also beginning May 1, Pierce Transit will recover the full Tacoma Narrows Bridge toll from vanpool groups that travel on the bridge.

The Board of Commissioners tabled for further discussion a vote on changing the vanpool service area that would require either the vanpool group’s origin or destination to be inside the Pierce Transit district boundary.

Pierce Transit is implementing service reductions and looking for cost-savings after voters rejected Proposition 1 in November, which would have restored access to essential services for seniors, the disabled, and people who rely on Pierce Transit by increasing the sales and use tax in Pierce County.

Last month, the Board of Commissioners approved a resolution directing staff to revise service reduction plans in September that will limit weekend bus service. Pierce Transit currently operates 417,000 annual service hours. The revised service plan will reduce annual service hours to approximately 300,000, or a 28 percent reduction from current levels. The plan adopted in January reduced service to 275,000 annual service hours, or a 34 percent reduction from current levels.

The agency has received $6.2 million in revenue through two Federal Transit Administration “State of Good Repair” grants and congressional approval of the Alternative Fuel Tax Credit. In addition, over the next decade, the agency will extend the useful life of buses from 14 years to 16 years and eliminate some planned improvements to its maintenance facilities, redirecting a total of $19.5 million from the Pierce Transit capital plan. These efforts combined will add $25.7 million for bus operations over 10 years.

“We have been working very hard for the last couple of months to find these savings,” said Pierce Transit CEO Lynne Griffith. “There is some risk in using these dollars for service today, but given the strong need for service in this community and the repeated desire of our board members to find a way to provide service on the weekend, we feel this is the right choice.”

Almost all Pierce Transit routes will be affected. The primary impacts of the proposed service reductions are:

36 routes operating 1,250 daily trips
Limited service after 7 p.m.
Limited service during mid-day

24 routes operating 456 trips
No service after 7 p.m.
Limited service during mid-day

15 routes operating 244 trips
No service after 7 p.m.
Limited service during mid-day

Elimination of holiday service.
Elimination of Route 62, which serves Northeast Tacoma.
No restoration of special service to events like the Puyallup Fair.
SHUTTLE paratransit service for eligible people with disabilities operates during the same days and times as bus service. As bus service is reduced or eliminated, SHUTTLE service will also be reduced or eliminated.

Detailed service reduction plan information is available online at piercetransit.org. A public hearing on implementation of the revised plan is scheduled to occur on May 13. Meanwhile, Pierce Transit is hosting informational meetings for the public regarding the revised service reduction plan at locations around the Pierce Transit service area:

Weds., March 13, 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Northeast Tacoma Police Substation
4731 Norpoint Way NE, Tacoma
Served by Route 62

Mon., March 18, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Parkland/Spanaway Pierce County Library
13718 Pacific Avenue South, Tacoma
Served by Route 1

Thurs., March 19, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Puyallup Library (North Room)
324 South Meridian, Puyallup
Served by Routes 400, 402, 409

Weds., March 20, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Gig Harbor Civic Center (Council Chambers)
3510 Grandview Street, Gig Harbor
Served by Route 100

Tues., March 26, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Puyallup Library (North Room)
324 South Meridian, Puyallup
Served by Routes 400, 402, 409

More information is available online at piercetransit.org.