Ditch the Car and Enjoy a Journey on the Downtown to Defiance Trolley in Tacoma

Point Defiance Trolley
While not technically a trolley, you get a definite trolley vibe when you ride. Photo credit: Jackie Fender

Everyday the Tacoma community witnesses another sign of a continued revitalization of the city. On June 2 at Tollefson Plaza, a gathering of spectators celebrated another – the Downtown to Defiance Trolley.

The Downtown to Defiance Trolley is a Pierce Transit pilot project that made its maiden voyage Friday morning. Though it’s not technically a trolley, but instead a cute, petite bus that is dressed up to look like one. The Downtown to Defiance exudes a trolley-like charm and invites commuters, both Tacomans and tourist alike, to immerse themselves in some of very best that ole T-Town has to offer.

Downtown to Defiance Trolley
Live like the mountain’s out and ride on the Downtown to Defiance Trolley. Photo credit: Jackie Fender

Of the project Sue Dreier, Pierce Transit CEO says, “I am pleased we are able to bring this new service to an area of South Sound that offers so much beauty and great activities. We invite individuals and families to skip the parking troubles and instead hop aboard the trolley to visit downtown, the Waterfront, Point Ruston, Point Defiance and destinations in between.”

Dreier kicked off the inaugural festivities expressing gratitude and pride directed toward what hard work and community collaboration can achieve. Community partners in this endeavor include the City of Tacoma, Metro Parks, South Sound Together, Point Ruston, Travel Tacoma and the Port of Tacoma. She reminisced about the old Commencement BayLiner that ran from the Tacoma Mall to Point Defiance until to 1991. A large, white beast meandering through residential streets and stoplights with colorful octopi, starfish and other sea creatures adorning its façade, The BayLiner ran on diesel and ultimately yielded low ridership. The trolley by comparison boasts a more aesthetically pleasing appearance and is fueled by clean, compressed natural gas.

Pierce Transit Route 15
Pierce Transit Route 15 is the Downtown to Defiance Trolley. Photo credit: Jackie Fender

Those who hop onto the Downtown to Defiance Trolley can enjoy the most direct commute from the heart of downtown to Point Defiance with a stop at the zoo.

My toddler and I enjoyed a little trip on Route 15 ourselves, ditching the car and enjoying the scenery. It was truly a little adventure. The trolley begins its journey at the core of our thriving downtown, featuring delectable eateries, retail spaces and the museum district. The bus then zips down Schuster Parkway and down Ruston Way. Commuters can hop off there and enjoy the spectacular ocean landscape and the bustling Point Ruston bursting with places to eat and recreation. From there it pops up to Pearl Street taking a direct route to Point Defiance Park. Lush old growth forests, the bright reds of the pagoda and a ferry ride are all steps away from the final stop on the route, the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium.

Tacoma Trolley
Take the window seat and enjoy the journey through Tacoma’s majestic scenery. Photo credit: Jackie Fender

This pilot project only runs from June 2 to September 3, though with enough support from the community of commuters the trolley has potential to transform into a permanent route. The runtime is friendly for a flexible day of activities too, running every 30 minutes from 10:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. every Friday, Saturday and Sunday plus the third Thursday of each month in support of the Tacoma Third Thursday Art Walk.

Bonus, the fee is a mere $1 per ride or $5 for a day pass with discounted fees for youth and seniors. Bicyclist can take advantage of the bike rack on the front side of the bus and even dog owners looking to enjoy the commute can, as well behaved, leashed canines are welcome to ride.

For details about route, times and bus stops visit Piercetransit.org.

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