Pierce Transit plans to restore some weekend service that had been slashed by budget cuts and add weekday trips on some of its high-demand routes.
The transit board agreed Monday to add a total of 16,000 annual service hours. Most of the additions won’t take place until June because of scheduling.
Annual service hours will rise by nearly 4 percent to 443,000.
The increase in hours is the latest sign of Pierce Transit’s rebound from budget cuts.
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Sales tax revenue has been on the upswing since the beginning of 2013, and some services have been added since then.
Even so, the current number of annual service hours — about 427,000 — is dramatically lower than the more than 600,000 hours that were in effect before the economic recession. Voters rejected two attempted transit sales tax increases in 2011 and 2012.
Weekend service hours were hit hard by reductions since 2011, down by 40 percent on Sundays and by 26 percent on Saturdays, said Peter Stackpole, assistant manager of planning.
Rider surveys show customer satisfaction with weekend service is at an all-time low, Stackpole said. Most routes on Sundays don’t have service past 5:30 p.m.
The agency now plans to add trips to about 15 routes on Sundays and 14 routes on Saturdays.
Other changes will include adding:
• Two southbound trips in February on weekday afternoons for Route 1 to address standing-room-only loads at the University of Washington Tacoma. The route includes Tacoma Community College.
• Six northbound trips on weekday mornings and six southbound trips in the afternoons on Route 500 between downtown Tacoma and the Federal Way Transit Center.
• Four northbound weekday trips and four southbound weekday trips during peak hours on Route 402 from South Hill to the Federal Way Transit Center.
• A consolidated route that will lead to more frequent service Lakewood and the South Hill Transit Center.
Stackpole said the increase won’t meet all riders’ needs but will help address areas of high demand.
The transit board on Monday approved a 2015 budget that totals $160.8 million. It includes 4,000 more service hours. The board will have to come back and amend the budget in March before an additional 12,000 service hours are finalized.
Those 12,000 extra hours will be funded for six years in part by eliminating three vacant positions and reducing some capital spending. Pierce Transit also will use some longterm fund balance and take on $5 million in longterm debt, if necessary.
Board vice chairman Steve Vermillion praised interim chief executive officer Jim Walton and his staff for listening to transit riders and responding to where the needs are. Vermillion, a Puyallup City councilman, said the result left him happy.
“It still makes me smile,” Vermillion said.