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Pierce Transit offers safe way to travel, free rides to COVID-19 vaccinations.

Looking for a safe and convenient way to travel? Hop on a local bus!

That’s the message Pierce Transit Communications Manager Rebecca Japhet wants everyone in Pierce County to hear.

“Our ridership is still only 50% of pre-COVID-19 levels,” she said. Japhet is confident more people will return to public transit soon. Why? Because more Pierce County residents are getting vaccinated, which means they feel safe riding the bus, and as Japhet said, “Once the state fully reopens, more people will use the bus to get to their workplace.”

Thanks to COVID-19 vaccine, Pierce County is navigating its way to the end of the pandemic. The increase in transit service is proof. After making major route reductions when COVID-19 began, Pierce Transit added back many trips to its bus schedules in March, particularly more trips on Sundays, returning to about 95% of pre-COVID-19 service.

“We’re just looking to remind people that riding the bus is safe,” Japhet said. “And we want them to know all the things we’re doing to keep it that way.”

Safety measures in place.

When you ride a bus, you don’t have to worry about filling up the gas tank or looking for a place to park. But if you haven’t taken public transit in a while, things may look a little different next time you ride.

“We’ve done a lot to keep people safe,” Japhet said. “By federal law, masks are required on board, and we have mask dispensers on all our buses. We also installed barriers around the operators to protect both our employees and passengers.”

Pierce Transit continues to focus on keeping customers and employees safe while getting people where they need to go. The agency provides about 13,000 bus rides each weekday, plus rides on paratransit vehicles.

“We’ve also marked off some seats to make sure people aren’t sitting close together unless they are in the same party,” Japhet said. “There really is a lot of physical distancing. And ventilation is good. The air on Pierce Transit buses is exchanged with outside air several times an hour.” Japhet also detailed a very stringent cleaning and disinfecting protocol.

Pierce Transit takes many steps to protect passengers and bus operators. The agency: 

  • Cleans and disinfects buses regularly. 
  • Requires face masks onboard, per federal law. And provides them for customers who don’t have one. 
  • Exchanges air onboard with outside air several times each hour. 
  • Limits bus capacity to 50%, per state requirements, and marks off seats throughout to keep passengers distanced from each other. 
  • Installed new, clear partitions around the driver’s area to limit contact. 
  • Asks passengers whenever possible to disembark from the back to reduce interactions with passengers who are getting onto the bus at the front. 
  • Screens Pierce Transit employees with temperature scanners and a health questionnaire before they start their shift. 

Learn more about how Pierce Transit ensures a safe ride for customers.

Free rides to vaccines.

Pierce Transit offers free rides to and from COVID-19 vaccinations.

“We  provide  free rides at the request of health professionals who are trying hard to get folks vaccinated and remove the transportation barrier,” Japhet said.

“We heard a couple of stories where veterans couldn’t get to a facility to get vaccinated because they just didn’t have access to transportation,” she said. “That’s when we decided to go ahead and provide rides to get a vaccine for free—and it doesn’t even need to be an appointment.”

To learn more or get help planning your transit trip, just call (253) 581-8000 (press 1, then press 1 again) or visit

The vaccine is our best path out of this pandemic. Register for your vaccination today at Everyone 12 and older is eligible. You can also drop in at any clinic and get vaccinated without an appointment.

Summer fun is only a bus ride away.

“We’re typically very busy in the summer,” Japhet said.

Pierce Transit is gearing up for a return to business as usual this year after so many activities were shut down in 2020.

“We have a summer youth pass that allows kids under 18 to ride all summer,” she said. “We are typically out and about at a lot at events—obviously that will be a bit of a mixed situation this year. But we are bringing back the Gig Harbor Trolley, and hope to start providing those types of services again.”

Getting as many eligible people in Pierce County vaccinated for COVID-19 is key. As the state fully reopens, so too will the opportunities for summer fun and activities—and Pierce Transit will be there waiting to take you to and from your adventure.

In the meantime, your role to stop the spread of COVID-19 remains critical.

A transit worker wipes down a bus with cleaning solution.