Submitted by Pierce Transit
For the past 18 months, Pierce Transit has been studying the feasibility of implementing High Capacity Transit (HCT) along a 14.4-mile corridor on Pacific Avenue/SR 7 between downtown Tacoma and Spanaway. The corridor is currently served by Pierce Transit’s Route 1, which has the highest ridership in the agency’s fixed-route bus system.
At its July 9 meeting the Pierce Transit Board of Commissioners will select the project’s “Locally Preferred Alternative,” consisting of the mode (type of service), termini (where it starts and ends), and its alignment (route). The meeting will begin at 4 p.m. at the Pierce Transit Building 5 Training Center, 3720 – 96thStreet SW in Lakewood.
Pierce Transit held several open houses in 2017 and 2018 to introduce the HCT concept to people and business owners along the corridor and seek feedback. Agency staff have also been meeting with stakeholders and soliciting feedback online.
After studying several HCT mode options and gathering public input, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) garnered the most support over other options such as enhanced bus, street car and light rail. BRT was also recommended by the project’s Technical Advisory Committee consisting of almost 40 representatives from eight planning partners, including the City of Tacoma, Pierce County, the Puget Sound Regional Council, universities along the route, the Washington State Department of Transportation and others.
Bus Rapid Transit systems are designed to carry larger numbers of riders with greater speed, reliability and frequency than a standard fixed-route bus. BRT stations have additional amenities, such as real-time arrival information; off-board fare collection, raised platforms and multiple doors for faster boarding; transit signal prioritization for faster travel times through congested intersections; and unique, branded vehicles that carry more passengers, have room for bicycles onboard and provide easier wheelchair access.
The recommended southern terminus is at the end of the current Route 1 at 204th Street E. and Mountain Highway E/SR-7 in Spanaway. The recommended northern terminus is at South 9th Street and Market Street in downtown Tacoma, just north of the Commerce Street Transfer Center.
The recommended route runs along Pacific Ave./SR 7 for the majority of the route and along Mountain Highway E. at the southern end. It also deviates off Pacific Avenue to reach the Tacoma Dome Station in Tacoma and onto some downtown Tacoma streets to reach the Commerce Transit Center. A map of the recommended route is available at RideBRT.com.
Station locations and lane configurations are not part of the Locally Preferred Alternative and will not be part of the selection at the July 9 meeting. Preliminary stations and lane configurations will be discussed and ultimately selected at a later date.
The public can learn more about the study and Bus Rapid Transit at brt. People may also sign up to receive email updates by visiting piercetransit.org/StayConnected, entering their email address, and selecting the “Pacific Ave./SR 7 Bus Rapid Transit Project” topic.
There is already $75 million committed to this project; $60 million from Sound Transit 3 and $15 million from the 2015 Connecting Washington state transportation package. Pierce Transit will apply this fall for federal funding for the remaining portion of the project, estimated to cost a total of $150 million. If funding is secured, the design/environmental review/construction process could get underway in late 2018 or early 2019, with service beginning in late 2022.