Letters to the Editor

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TRANSIT: Empty buses being sent to Tacoma

Letter by Lynn M. Arthur, Puyallup on July 3, 2012 at 12:20 pm with 27 Comments »
July 3, 2012 12:21 pm

I commute to work from Puyallup to Tacoma and for the last six years have taken a Sound transit bus. Last September they changed the route to start from Seattle with multiple stops in Federal Way, Auburn, Sumner and Puyallup southbound to Tacoma. In mid-June, they discontinued service only from Puyallup to Tacoma.

I had to change my work schedule to find a Pierce Transit bus that takes 20 minutes longer and leaves later than my former bus. Imagine my anger when I discovered the Sound Transit Route 578 bus still arrives at the same time and then travels empty via the same route on River Road to Tacoma Dome station five times every weekday morning!

Formerly there were 12 to 15 paying customers on my bus riding all the way to Tacoma each morning. I would understand dropping a bus line to save money if it were completely discontinued. Discontinuing Route 578 from the Puyallup to Tacoma portion makes no sense as the empty bus is still using the gas and not taking riders.

Leave a comment Comments → 27
  1. Wow, lots of confusing information! Sound Transit and Pierce Transit are different agencies. Pierce Transit’s levy failed, they had to cut routes, and will cut, cancel more if the November levy fails. Sound Transit runs are financially secure, for now! If the bus are empty, you can contact them to let them know, they will cut service for route 578, which they have done when I called. Take the Sounder Train!

  2. alindasue says:

    That’ll be a great solution once the sounder actually starts running more time during the day.

    However, Ms. Arthur wasn’t complaining about the buses being empty because the was nobody to ride on the route. She was complaining that the buses were empty between those stops because they were no longer stopping to pick up the more than dozen people who wanted to ride it. She would like the service restored, not discontinued.

    If the buses are traveling that way anyhow, I don’t understand why they can’t restore the service.

  3. Just another reminder that mass transit just hasn’t caught on here yet despite the democrats trying to make owning a car too expensive.

  4. truthbusterguy says:

    Pierce Transit is misguided and poorly run. That is why they lost their levy and they will lose again in Nov.

    More money to fund the union owned status quo is not the solution. Government has had their chance running Pierce Transit, they are fired. I will be a NO vote and until we start talking about privatization of transit service I will always be a NO vote.

    The NO on Prop 1 folks will fight this levy again and win again.

    Wake up people!!! Stop voting to have your taxes raised. Government doesn’t need your help in that area.

  5. I had to look at the bus schedule before the comment became perfectly clear.

    So instead of turning around in Puyallup and heading back to Seattle, according Lynn, some or all of the buses on this route are going to Tacoma empty, either to refuel, change drivers, eat lunch, or change routes.

  6. Alindasue: oh, okay, but they are probably not going to Tacoma, rather the base in Lakewood upon completion of daily service.

  7. alindasue says:


    You might want to learn the difference between Pierce Transit and Sound Transit before commenting next time. Route 578 is a Sound Transit bus.

    Ms. Aurthur was saying that the buses were ending in the same place as they did before, but just not stopping in Puyallup any more despite the fact that it is still traveling through part of Puyallup. My guess is the decision to not cut over to the Puyallup transit center any more was a cost cutting measure.

  8. truthbusterguy says:


    I was talking about all government run transit.

    Public transit is often portrayed as a low-cost, environmentally friendly alternative to auto driving. In fact, transit is much more costly than driving, and requires huge subsidies to attract riders. Moreover, transit systems in the vast majority of American cities use more energy and emit more greenhouse gases than the average car.

    For every dollar collected in fares from transit riders, the average transit system in America requires more than $2 from taxpayers for operating subsidies plus more than $1 for capital improvements and maintenance. So it is not surprising that transit systems in WA State require large subsidies. What may be surprising is that most are far less environmentally friendly than a typical sports utility vehicle.

    The government owned, union ran, transit systems are a failure nationwide. They are all in troiuble and that includes ferries too. The answer??? Privatization and use non union workers NOT higher taxes.

    Heck, I pay to use the parks (the state no longer funds) so let riders pay the total cost of ridership. When fares are $7 to go across town the outcry will be so loud they will be forced to change these bankrupt services.

  9. royboy361 says:

    I too plan to vote no in Nov. I’m tired of being nickeled and dimed to death. Pierce Transit keeps trotting out the same old proposal only to get voted down yet again.

  10. Puyallup council troll Steve vermillion is championing the large boost in sales tax to pay for management jobs at pierce transit. I would not be surprised if he is not after a job there, nobody else will keep him on the payroll for long.

    Special interests in pierce county taking self service to a new level.

    Pierce transit is a sick joke.

  11. I’m voting yes, I personally see the handicapped, elderly, school kids, for some, life saving transportation needs. Yes, times are hard, who wants to pay more in taxes……if its hard for those getting by, multiply that for the aformentioned groups in our society. PT sends a fleet of buses to our dependant care residence; if the levy fails, most of is will literally fail, we can’t afford private taxis, buses, etc…..

  12. alindasue says:


    The average bus may possibly create more emissions than the average modern SUV, but does it create more emissions than the 20 or 30 SUVs that is would take to transport the same number of people the same distance? No, it doesn’t.

    British Columbia tried privatizing ferry services. It didn’t turn out too well. Actually, in my searching, I have yet to find a successful privately run transit system that wasn’t heavily subsidized by government funds of some kind.

    BORG already covered the issue of transporting students and those with special needs…

    But when it comes down to it, can you name one successful city that doesn’t have a decent public transit system of some kind? I haven’t. There is a reason for that, you know…

  13. That’s why I’m voting yes……

  14. truthbusterguy says:

    Borg, you are truly a member of the koolaid drinking liberal continuum. I know a 100 voters that will cancel your vote with a big NO.

    If public transit is sooooo good why can’t it survive without tax subsidies that pay almost 50% of the fare.

    Why does public sector transit have to be union where the salaries and benefits become the major cost driver for the transit service? Public transit is nothing more than a jobs program that uses transport of the poor as justification. Every notice how many riders are glued to their $120 a month smart phones? They can afford to pay the fare, they just don’t want to.

    Alindasue, do a search. Washington DC is studying the privatization of their bus and transit services. Like Stockton CA the public sector union broke their back too. Can’t you see we are turning into Calif. or worst Greece. Do a search for “cities with private bus systems” and see what pops up.

  15. Thruthbuster: come to my retirement home, not to many of have have a cell phone period! Yes for our only mode of affordable transportation

  16. FletchFFletch says:

    “Just another reminder that mass transit just hasn’t caught on here yet despite the democrats trying to make owning a car too expensive.”

    Yeah, Frosty, that’s it.

  17. U mmm, last I checked, the 578 southbound from Seattle
    stops in Federal Way, Auburn, Sumner, Puyallup and ends up in Tacoma. The reason it’s empty is that 90% of the riders have already paid their fare and gotten off at earlier stops. Wow, I would have researched that information before I came across like a whiny narcissist

  18. bkeyport1970 says:

    yet another mismanaged mass transit option by the mismanagement kings – Sound Transit – and their also poorly managed cohorts Pierce Transit and Metro.

    The simple fact is, they likely cut the Puyallup/Tacoma link simply to try and convince taxpayers to raise taxes yet again for the routes, then they’ll restore service again for a short time, then waste more money and cut it out again.

    It’s a shell game, people. Cut ‘em until they bleed. No new taxes, cut existing taxes…

  19. I haven’t used the regular bus service except for trips to the Puyallup Fair. Recently, due to surgery a few weeks ago, I had to depend on the Shuttle to get me to the military hospital as I could not drive. Not the fastest or most convenient mode of travelling and I’d sometimes feel guilty about being the only passenger. However, I am grateful to them for letting me keep appointments I would have been unable to attend otherwise.
    On some occasions I have seen other passengers who were blind and/or confined to wheelchairs. I don’t grudge any taxes I have to pay to help those people get around.

  20. philichi says:

    Let me help you all with the interpretation here. The transit system is set up as a way to extract revenue from the public and give it to a union. This is not unique. The Public school system is set up to do the same thing. If someone gets a ride or an education, that is simply a byproduct, not an objective.

    The public always seems to be sad about the outcome. We need to realize that the outcome of taking revenue from the public and giving to the unions is working just fine.

    Please vote no on all levies until this mess gets cleaned up.

  21. SwordofPerseus says:

    Philitchy & Truthlessguy – Why the irrational hatred of organized labor? Is your daddy a CEO for a fortune 500?
    You both seem to think that privatization is a great idea for all public services. You are nuts. Send a letter to Seattle for $0.44 to pay a bill it will arrive the next day. Same service from UPS will charge $18.39. See the difference. Stop watching fox newz people it makes you stupid.

  22. philichi says:

    SwordoPerseus, my dad was in a union. I was in one too. They are bad for everyone.

  23. RoxCox, according to the schedule posted on the Sound Transit web site, the 578 does not stop in Tacoma.



  24. “Let me help you all with the interpretation here. The transit system is set up as a way to extract revenue from the public and give it to a union. This is not unique. The Public school system is set up to do the same thing. If someone gets a ride or an education, that is simply a byproduct, not an objective.”

    I disagree. It’s the other way around. That being said unions and corporations have way, way too much power over our elected leaders.

  25. SwordofPerseus says:

    Phil – please elaborate…I too was in a union once. It was terrific fabulous pay and benefits.

  26. B_17pilot says:

    Getting back to the issue the letter writer had (there will be plenty of time later for the vitriolic attacks on transit), what is most likely happening is the bus is repositioning to the Tacoma Done Station to do a 590 route to Seattle. When Sound Transit eliminated the service from Puyallup to Tacoma (most likely because of low ridership) Pierce Transit still had to get the bus in the right position for its next run. The letter writer can ask to ride to TDS as most drivers would have no problem with that (I know I wouldn’t).

  27. TransitGirl says:

    Lynn’s letter is wrong.

    The 578 no longer goes to Tacoma, nor are the empty buses going that way. 578 service was removed between Puyallup and Tacoma because PT route 400 already covers that area and that small portion of the route doesn’t carry enough riders to justify running two entire routes for it.

    All but one of the morning 578 buses either turn around and head back to Seattle or return to PT’s operating base. The only one that doesn’t (the very first one of the morning) goes to a base over near the Tacoma Dome to wait and become an evening bus. This is called “deadheading” and deadhead portions of a route are neither published in the schedule nor open to passengers because they change very frequently. Deadhead trips are rearranged all the time based on thigns like ridership, overcrowding, expected weather issues, special events, etc. A bus could even be in the middle of a deadhead part of a trip and be told to immediately turn around and go somewhere else for some reason.

    Service Planners aren’t nearly as inefficient or stupid as the general public seems to think. People may not like their decisions, but they are made for good reason whether the average citizen realizes it or not. Remember the old adage that there’s two sides to every story? Well, one rider may be upset that it takes 5 mins longer to get to their car, but imagine how upset they’d be if they got on a deadheaded bus and partway through the ride, the bus was turned around to go out to West Seattle or something.

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