The State of Washington has awarded Pierce Transit $568,000 for the 2021-23 biennium, with the potential for another $568,000 in the following biennium, in Regional Mobility Grants to provide on-demand public transportation service to the Port of Tacoma Manufacturing Industrial Center. The project will create a transit connection from the Tideflats and Port areas to other local and regional transit services in Tacoma.
The Port of Tacoma currently has no local transit services, yet there are more than 8,500 jobs based in the Tideflats area. The concentration of jobs and high social equity populations in this area have resulted in underserved transit-dependent and choice riders. Providing on-demand service in this area will assist companies with employee transportation needs, provide congestion relief and offer access to jobs and life services for those needing transportation connections. The goal is to use battery electric vehicles for this service, which will run in an area of high environmental sensitivity.
The state funding will allow Pierce Transit to design a project that provides a transit connection to the Port of Tacoma Manufacturing Industrial Center by:
- Providing on-demand service with service hours commensurate with employer work shifts
- Providing app-based and phone-in access for requesting rides
- Providing wheelchair-accessible vehicles to ensure equity of access
- Allowing fare payment via an ORCA card to support employer-provided transit benefit programs
- Connecting to the Commerce Street and Tacoma Dome Station transit hubs to support local and regional transit connections
- Creating ridership and boarding location data to help inform improvements to future transit service
“This service will provide a great alternative for people who have been driving their car to a job in this part of Tacoma,” said Pierce Transit CEO Sue Dreier. “It will also open doors to new job opportunities for people who don’t own a personal vehicle. We are very grateful to our Pierce County legislative delegation for making the funding of this service a priority and are excited to get it up and running.”
The state funds will be available to Pierce Transit starting later this summer. Between now and then the agency will design the service and make a public announcement with its details before it gets underway. Agency staff will also work directly with employers in the Port and Tideflats areas to ensure they and their employees are aware of the service.