Public transit riders living in Northeast Tacoma will soon have more service and a new express route to downtown, though it may only be temporary.
Pierce Transit, in partnership with King County Metro, will launch a one-year demonstration project designed to fix the long wait times riders face when taking the bus between Northeast Tacoma and downtown Tacoma.
More trips also will be added to help commuters traveling between Northeast Tacoma and the Federal Way Transit Center.
The project starts Sept. 27. Pierce Transit will pay Metro $157,930 for the extra service, on top of the $268,768 it now pays for service to the Northeast Tacoma area.
“This partnership project increases the effectiveness of the bus routes in Northeast Tacoma and adds a quick way to get downtown,” said Pierce Transit interim spokesman Justin Leighton.
Pierce Transit already partners with Metro for bus service in the Lakeland Hills area of Auburn, which straddles both sides of the county line. But this will be the first time Metro buses have run south into Pierce County, Leighton said.
Here are the specifics:
Pierce Transit Route 62, which currently serves the Browns Point area, will change to an express route running between the QFC stop at 49th Avenue Northeast and the 10th and Commerce Transit Center downtown.
The express route will offer six trips a day, three in the morning running hourly between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m. and three in the afternoon running hourly between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.
King County Metro Route 903 will take over service for Pierce Transit’s current Route 62 area and increase it from six to 20 trips per day. Metro will pick up the Browns Point area by extending Metro Route 903, which now runs between Northeast Tacoma and the Federal Way Transit Center.
Pierce Transit staff will work with Northeast Tacoma community stakeholders to “identify outreach opportunities targeting the Northeast Tacoma Community,” according to a transit agency publication.
The outreach will emphasize ORCA card use and help new riders learn how to transfer between the Metro and Pierce County systems, Pierce Transit said.
Pierce Transit has experimented with one-year demonstration projects in the past. In February, it ended a Fife-to-Puyallup station route and a Edgewood-Milton Community Connector route in part because of the high cost of service.