You can get around with all the pomp of yesteryear when you ride Pierce Transit’s seasonal trolley, back again this year for its fourth summer of service in Gig Harbor and now for the first time in Tacoma.
The Gig Harbor trolley (Route 101) offers convenient service from Gig Harbor’s historic waterfront district to the shopping district in Uptown seven days a week. Service will be available through September 4, with extra shifts during special events for added convenience. Times vary based on the day of the week, but the schedule (available online and at trolley stops) keeps riders up-to-date on departure and arrival times. Trolley fares are 50 cents for youth and adults (or $1.00 on the trolley for an all-day pass), and children under five (as well as Regional Reduced Fare Permit cardholders) ride free. Fido can ride along, too; leashed and well-behaved dogs are welcome.
Pierce Transit, partnering with the City of Tacoma, Point Ruston, Metro Parks Tacoma, South Sound Together, Port of Tacoma and Travel Tacoma, is also offering trolley service from downtown Tacoma to Point Defiance (Route 15). Available every Friday, Saturday and Sunday – plus on Third Thursday “Art Mingle” days – through Labor Day weekend, the Downtown to Defiance Trolley carries visitors to noteworthy destinations in downtown Tacoma, along Ruston Way and to Point Defiance Park. The Trolley runs from 10:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
For both routes (the 101 in Gig Harbor and the 15 in Tacoma), drivers do not carry change, so come prepared with the correct fare, have an ORCA card handy or be aware that you will not receive change for your transaction. Bike racks are provided on most of the trolleys for rider convenience, ideal for orchestrating an idyllic ride along the Ruston Way or Gig Harbor waterfronts.
The experience is made more interactive by entertaining riders with information about points of interest along the routes. In Gig Harbor, “The Trolley driver interacts with passengers and provides riders with an informational tour,” Karen Scott, Tourism & Communications Director for the City of Gig Harbor, explains. “Pierce Transit provides information for the drivers, and these serve as talking points. We switch these up every year, and these can include historical points of interest, upcoming events and details about local points of interests.”
In Tacoma, the Downtown to Defiance Trolley offers pre-recorded messages with information about what riders are seeing along the way. This “audio escort” provides a front-seat view of history and culture, economic vitality, quality of life and the natural beauty that exists in Tacoma.
“Tacoma’s trolley is just another step,” says Travel Tacoma + Pierce County CEO, Bennish Brown, “towards achieving one of the organization’s shared initiatives in partnership with the City of Tacoma, Gig Harbor and Metro Parks.” The goal is to contribute to community economic vitality and well-being in Pierce County, perhaps relieving parking issues and enhancing the Point Defiance experience at large.
“From the perspective of Travel Tacoma + Pierce County, this is a product that elevates the experience of visitors to our city and destination,” says Bennish, “in particular those who are staying in downtown Tacoma hotels. It is about convenience and the opportunity to route visitors and residents alike easily between the two population centers of downtown Tacoma and along Ruston Way to Point Ruston and ultimately Point Defiance. Its aim is to benefit businesses on both ends of the route. The more access we can give visitors to this entire city, the more enjoyable their trip will be, the more they’ll spread their economic impact to businesses throughout the city and region, and the more tax dollars they’ll generate for our local services.”
Bennish says the Trolley service is aimed at visitors and tourists, but that does not necessarily mean visitors who reside outside of the trolley’s service areas. “It was important in this instance to redesign the definition of ‘tourist’ to include local but outlying residents and their friends and family members. With the county growing as fast as it is, there are a lot of new people moving in daily, and this [Trolley] is a quick way for them to get acquainted with Tacoma and the things to see and do here.”
Karen Scott agrees. “Locals typically ride the Trolley once or twice, but we’ve seen repeat ridership as locals take out-of-town visitors around on the Trolley. Riding the Trolley is a neat way to travel and puts a special-occasion spin on making your way to familiar destinations.” Karen says that the reaction from the small business community has been positive, particularly for shops in the Gig Harbor’s uptown area.
Bennish adds that educating people on what these cities have to offer and how that contributes to a healthy and exciting Puget Sound is a very important outcome. “When riders elect to hop on the Trolley, they can get a sense of the welcoming spirit and commitment to hospitality that exists within this community and this industry,” Bennish explains. Not to mention it allows people to make it to local points of interest in quaint style.