By Carol Mitchell
On Monday, July 8, 2013, the Pierce Transit Board of Commissioners will take action to adopt the future strategic direction for the Agency. The action comes after Board members spent five hours deliberating options and discussing their desired outcomes at a work session held July 1.
The Board’s impending action signals good news for cities and towns in smaller communities, specifically Fife/Milton/Edgewood, Puyallup and Gig Harbor because it endorses additional investments in innovative, tailored solutions. Adoption means that demonstration projects like the PT Trolley in Gig Harbor are now on a fast track for testing and implementation in other parts of the Pierce Transit service area.
The Board gave the green light to the newly formed Business Development Office’s rapid design process and four innovation concepts: Custom Bus, Trolley, Little Bus Circulators and Community Events. The Business Development Office will lead the agency’s service and process innovation initiatives.
FOCUS AREAS FOR PIERCE TRANSIT’S 2014-2017 STRATEGIC PLAN
The Board will take action to adopt the following focus areas so that CEO Lynne Griffith and her staff might proceed with the development of the Agency’s 2014-2017 Strategic Plan:
- Operational Excellence (includes safety, customer service, efficiency, and labor and employee relations)
- Financial Stability
- Tailored Community Solutions
- Public Perception
- Service Allocation
Griffith will bring the proposed strategic plan to the Board for review and comment at its Fall work session.
FIFE/MILTON/EDGEWOOD, PUYALLUP, GIG HARBOR TAILORED SOLUTIONS COMING SOON
The cities and towns of Fife/Milton/Edgewood are next up on staff’s list to design tailored solutions for transit riders in those communities. A discovery meeting is scheduled for July 18, 2013 in Fife. Puyallup will follow shortly thereafter. The Agency plans to conduct a survey of community needs and review ridership data carefully as part of the discovery process. Community surveys and data analysis will validate what riders want and need and ensure the sustainability of any proposed design change. Although the schedule for these projects is expedited, the survey and design process would not be completed until after the September reductions are implemented. First quarter 2014 is a more likely implementation timeline for Fife/Milton/Edgewood and Puyallup riders.
An example of the rapid design process already in motion is the PT Trolley: Get Around Gig Harbor! which launches on July 9, 2013. The public is invited to join us for the kickoff at Gig Harbor’s Skansie Park at 10:00 a.m. Trolley rides during the demonstration project are only 25 cents per trip. Children five and under, seniors and disabled passengers ride free. The PT Trolley will run from July 9 through September 28, 2013 to support Gig Harbor’s summer season, and will be evaluated by the Community Investment Team before becoming a regular feature of transit service in Gig Harbor.
POSSIBLE TAILORED SOLUTIONS INCLUDE CUSTOM BUS, TROLLEY, CIRCULATORS AND COMMUNITY EVENTS
The Custom Bus idea has been operating successfully for decades in King County. Custom Buses are a customized bus service for interested partners. The service is open to anyone, but has a higher fare due to limited stops and value-added amenities. Potential partners include large institutions or employers with significant populations of commuters all headed to one location. The size of the bus varies on demand. In contrast, Little Bus Circulators are smaller vehicles (25 footers) that can be wrapped and branded to reflect the history and uniqueness of a particular community. Circulators travel more frequently along a fixed route in a single or adjacent communities. Trolleys are circulators, too, but their unique design is often a preferred choice for communities looking to attract seasonal riders or tourists who might not otherwise ride public transit. Trolleys may be leased, purchased or a 30 foot bus wrapped to look like a Trolley depending upon the community’s needs. Trolleys travel on a loop through one community, generally. Finally, Pierce Transit is trying to find innovative ways to provide service for community events again, especially for events of regional significance.
COMMUNITY INVESTMENT TEAMS
A key feature of the Agency’s new rapid design approach is the creation of a Community Investment Team (CIT) made up of stakeholders (including elected officials, planning staff, business, government and institutional partners) as a requirement of an innovation project. The CIT would work closely with Pierce Transit to design the service, develop performance measures, and ensure the project’s success. For example, the Gig Harbor Community Investment Team is made up of the Gig Harbor Chamber of Commerce, the City of Gig Harbor, Uptown Merchants and Downtown Waterfront Alliance. CIT members also contribute cash and in-kind donations to expedite implementation and defray costs of the demonstration project.