WA: It's not bus rapid transit, but Pierce Transit hopes this new bus line will save you time

March 1, 2024
Stream Community Line is the agency's replacement for the Bus Rapid Transit system it had hoped to have up and running along the Pacific Avenue/state Route 7 corridor in 2022.

Feb. 29—Pierce Transit begins a new speedier bus service April 1 that will get passengers from Spanaway to the Tacoma Dome faster than current buses can during morning and evening commutes.

Stream Community Line is the agency's replacement for the Bus Rapid Transit system it had hoped to have up and running along the Pacific Avenue/state Route 7 corridor in 2022. The pandemic, inflation and conflicts with other agencies and property owners drove a knife into that project, the project cost of which had ballooned from $150 million to $300 million by 2023.

Stream's route is also covered by Route 1, Pierce Transit's most heavily used line. But Stream will have fewer stops and get through intersections faster. Route 1 will continue to operate, Pierce Transit said.

Stream will run on weekdays 5:30-7:30 a.m. and 4-7 p.m. Buses will run every 20 minutes.

Whereas Route 1 picks up passengers at 58 bus stops in each direction along the same section, Stream will stop at only 14 stops. That saves more than 14 minutes travel time in each direction along the full route which takes a Route 1 bus 49 minutes to travel.

Route 1 runs from early morning to late evening every day and continues beyond the Tacoma Dome to Tacoma Community College.

Bus rapid transit

In August, the Pierce Transit board decided to put BRT on hold and asked staff to develop the system now called Stream.

Pierce Transit said the pause would allow the agency to better coordinate overlapping aspects of the project with other agencies and municipalities. It uses the same route as BRT was planning to use: Tacoma Dome Station to the Spanaway Transit Center currently under construction at 20712 East Mountain Highway, a few blocks south of Walmart. Pierce Transit is aiming for an opening this year.

WSDOT is planning safety and connectivity-focused improvements along state Route 7 as part of its Complete Streets program. The City of Tacoma is creating its Picture Pac Ave vision, which will guide future investments along Pacific Avenue from approximately I-5 to South 96th Street.


As the Stream system develops over the next few months, riders will notice improvements.

Stops will have lighted shelters, benches and real-time arrival signs that bear a resemblance to iPads. They also feature a push-to-talk button allowing vision impaired people to hear information.

Using an onboard communication system tied in with traffic signals, Stream buses will eventually be able to hold a green light longer, allowing them to get through intersections faster.

Fares for Stream will be the same as other Pierce Transit buses, which are free for ages 18 and under. Existing ORCA, mobile and paper-ticketing options can be used on Stream.

Stream buses will have a distinctive livery. Header messaging will allow riders to differentiate them from Route 1 buses. An audio announcement will identify arriving buses.

MultiCare sponsorship

Riders will see the MultiCare logo on Stream buses and at some stations. The health care organization is the main sponsor for Stream. As the service's sponsor, MultiCare will make annual payments starting around $250,000 and increasing annually for 28 years later with a final $427,000 payment.

Pierce Transit will use the money for general operation and maintenance of the line.

The sponsorship is part of MultiCare's efforts to support the Parkland/ Spanaway community, according to spokesperson Scott Thompson. The health organization, which operates Tacoma General and Mary Bridge hospitals, recently announced a partnership with Pacific Lutheran University and Washington State University to build a facility on the PLU campus.


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