Ruston, WA

Pierce Transit Restores and Expands Microtransit Service ‘Runner’ to Ruston and Tideflats

The Urbanist

By Stephen Fesler

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Pierce Transit Runner van in motion. (Pierce Transit)

Pierce Transit has restored its on-demand microtransit service “Runner” to the Ruston area and added a new zone in the Tideflats. The two zones essentially cover much of Downtown Tacoma, Ruston, areas near Ruston Way/Schuster Pkwy, and the industrial tideflats of Tacoma. Pierce Transit also operates a similar service to the military bases called “JBLM Runner”.

The service is flexible and provides a public transportation option to riders in areas where traditional fixed-route bus service might not perform well and where service is otherwise limited. Riders can request trips within Runner zones by mobile app, phone, or walking up if space is available. Within a zone, riders can book trips between a preferred pick-up point and destination. One of the pick-up or drop-off locations must be at Tacoma Dome Station or Commerce Street Transit Center. The Runner fleet entirely consists of vans, which can carry a bike and are wheelchair accessible.

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The Tideflats Runner service area, which envelopes the Port of Tacoma. (Pierce Transit)

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Green is the Ruston Runner service area and orange is the Tideflats Runner service area, which extends from the downtown waterfront to the edge of Point Defiance Park. (Pierce Transit)

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The Ruston Runner service area. (Pierce Transit)

The Ruston Runner zone is mostly a long strip. It includes parts of the Town of Ruston, Point Ruston, Ruston Way/Schuster Pkwy, and Tideflats along the Foss Waterway as well as the transit corridor in Downtown Tacoma and Tacoma Dome Station. Service operates seven days a week from 7:00am to 10:00pm. This service had originally been launched in August 2020 but it was suspended in April of this year due to Covid.

The Tideflats Runner zone is much broader including most of the Tideflats industrial and maritime area along Commencement Bay. This area reaches as far south of I-5 and covers Downtown Tacoma and Tacoma Dome Station. Service also operates seven days a week from 7:00am to 10:00pm.

Riders can make transfers to local and regional transit at Tacoma Dome Station and Commerce Street Transit Center.

Trip requests can be made through the “Goin” app and selecting “Pierce Transit Runner” or calling 253.270.1340. The cost per trip is $2.00 for adults and $1.00 for youth and persons with a Regional Reduced Fare Permit. Since there are no fareboxes equipped in vans, riders can either present a pre-purchased All Day Pass, ORCA card, or valid mobile fare procured through the “Passage: Transit Ticketing” app.

Looking ahead, Pierce Transit plans to launch another Runner service in Spanaway, Parkland, and Midland. Longer term, Pierce Transit also has bus rapid transit expansion plans that could form high quality connections for shuttle services.

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