A press release from MultiCare.
Pierce Transit is planning the South Sound’s first Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line along a 14.4-mile portion of Pacific Avenue/SR-7 between downtown Tacoma and Spanaway. Today Pierce Transit and MultiCare Health System announced that MultiCare will support the agency’s work to ensure residents along the route have easy access to transit by acting as the BRT line’s official sponsor. Transportation can affect access to health care services, social services, employment, and educational opportunities. In line with both organizations’ missions, their agreement will improve quality of life and help build healthy communities.
“Transit not only provides a great way to travel, it also promotes a healthy lifestyle, so the partnership between Pierce Transit and MultiCare is a natural one,” said Pierce Transit CEO Mike Griffus. “This new transportation option will give people a fast and convenient way to get to medical appointments, jobs and other important destinations while also supporting a cleaner environment.”
Bus Rapid Transit is a new type of service from Pierce Transit that is designed to carry larger numbers of riders with greater speed, reliability and frequency than a standard bus. Often called “light rail on wheels,” the service has many features designed to move riders faster and offer additional amenities, such as pre-paid fare; raised platforms and multiple doors for rapid boarding; buses that run every 10-15 minutes; traffic signals that prioritize transit; larger buses with room onboard for bicycles; easier wheelchair access; and real-time arrival information at stations. BRT systems typically include new safety features as well, such as upgraded lighting at stations and additional crosswalks throughout the route.
“Building healthy communities is about more than just access to medical care.” said Bill Robertson, President and CEO of MultiCare. “That’s why we are committed to doing all we can to ensure the mental, physical, economic and other social needs of the people we serve are met, including access to transportation.”
This BRT line, tentatively scheduled to open in 2025, will serve a corridor currently served by Pierce Transit’s Route 1, which has the agency’s highest ridership. The line will travel through six federally recognized Opportunity Zones and serve a very diverse community; almost 22 percent of individuals living in the area are below the poverty level, and 7 percent speak a language other than English in the home. The new line also passes three MultiCare medical facilities to support easy access to health care services.
As the BRT line’s naming sponsor, MultiCare’s name will appear on BRT buses, at stations and on other BRT items, such as tickets and ticket vending machines. The organization will also have naming rights to two BRT stations near MultiCare locations and at the Tacoma Dome Station transit hub. Other organizations may sponsor stations along the line, but
MultiCare remains the exclusive sponsor of the line itself. MultiCare will also work with Pierce Transit on an official name for this BRT line. The name will be distinct from the name “Stream,” selected by the Pierce Transit Board of Commissioners to apply to Pierce Transit’s BRT system overall, including this and future BRT lines.
The agreement signed by Pierce Transit and MultiCare spans 28 years, with MultiCare making annual payments starting around $300,000 and ending in year 28 around $512,000. Pierce Transit will use the funds for general operation and maintenance of the BRT line.
In late May the Federal Transit Administration recommended this BRT project for $75.2 million in funding, and it was included in President Biden’s proposed budget. The project’s remaining funding is already secured through other sources, including $60 million in Sound Transit 3 funds.
For more information about the Stream Bus Rapid Transit system, visit RideStream.org.