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Bus rapid transit plans roll forward in Pierce County

A Pierce Transit bus runs along Route 1 in downtown Tacoma. Officials are hoping to replace this line with bus rapid transit by 2023.
SounderBruce
/
Flickr Creative Commons
A Pierce Transit bus runs along Route 1 in downtown Tacoma. Officials are hoping to replace this line with bus rapid transit by 2023.

Plans are rolling forward for Pierce County to add a bus rapid transit line along Pacific Avenue.

The line would replace Pierce Transit’s Route 1, the busiest in the system, and would ferry passengers between downtown Tacoma and Spanaway.

Rapid transit buses carry more passengers, and generally make fewer stops, which allows them to travel the whole route faster. They also come more frequently than regular buses.

Sound Transit's board of directors approved $60 million for the bus rapid transit. The money comes from the Sound Transit 3 initiative voters approved in 2016.

He says bus rapid transit will open up opportunities for people in the region.

“You can picture somebody in Parkland or Spanaway who doesn’t have an opportunity to go to school, and doesn’t have an opportunity to maybe get to Seattle, to go up and attain a job that they once thought was out of their realm of possibility,” said Ryan Wheaton, executive director for planning and community development at Pierce Transit. “Now, we’ll speed that up.”

And he points out it will provide a faster link for people traveling to areas south of Tacoma from the north.

Officials now have about $90 million of the $150 million they need. They're hoping a federal grant will fill in the rest.

The hope is to complete the design of the project by 2021, and have bus rapid transit up and running by 2023.

Ed Ronco came to KNKX in October 2013 as producer and reporter for KNKX’s Morning Edition. Ed started in public radio in 2009 at KCAW in Sitka, Alaska, where he covered everything from city government, to education, crime, science, the arts and more. Prior to public radio, Ed worked in newspapers, including four years at the South Bend (Ind.) Tribune, where he covered business, then politics and government.