First-Time Bus Rider Guide

The ultimate guide on how to ride the bus

Riding is stress-free and enjoyable when you know the bus basics. Check out these tips for new riders!

STEP 1: GET CONNECTED WITH BUS INFORMATION

Local transit agencies have their routes online or have a customer service representative who can help you find the bus you need and answer your questions. Here are Pierce County’s local transit agencies:

Pierce Transit, Sound Transit, King County Metro, Kitsap Transit, Community Transit, Intercity Transit, Everett Transit, Kitsap Foot Ferries and Fast Ferries, and Seattle Streetcar

Here are Pierce Transit’s bus routes and schedules.

RIDERS_ Resources - LEARN

STEP 2: PLAN YOUR BUS RIDE

Pierce Transit offers an online Trip Planner to help you locate bus schedules that would work best for your location and destination. You can also call 253-581-8000 for Pierce Transit center information.

Use the trip planner to:

  • Enter your starting location, departure time, destination, and time of travel.

The website or app will provide you with a list of available bus routes, arrival times, and fares.

First time users guide (Bus) - PLAN YOUR BUS RIDE

STEP 3: PREP FOR THE RIDE

  • Purchase your fare prior to getting on the bus. 
  • You can use cash (you will need exact change), a Pierce Transit ORCA card, or a smartphone app to pay for your fare.
  • Many transit agencies also offer discounted or free fares for youth, seniors, and people with disabilities.

If you’re bringing a bike, scooter or stroller, ensure you have anything needed to bring it along for the ride (for instance, bring a bike lock if you’re riding the bus with a bicycle).

First time users guide (Bus) - PREP FOR THE RIDE


STEP 4: FIND YOUR BUS STOP  

Look for the nearest bus stop via Google Maps to your starting location and make your way there.

Bus stops are marked with a sign that displays the route number, bus stop ID, and a schedule of bus arrivals.

First time users guide (Bus) - FIND YOUR BUS STOP


STEP 5: HEAD TO THE BUS STOP

Not sure where to find the nearest stop? As long as you have an address, the Trip Planner will help you find it. You can even specify how far you’re willing to walk or bicycle.

Did you know most park and ride lots also have bike lockers and bike racks? Or you can load your bike on the front of the bus and use it again when you get off? Consider linking your commute by using multiple sustainable options.

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STEP 6: BOARD THE BUS

As a bus approaches, stand by the bus stop pole. Check the sign on the bus to be sure it is the one you want. If it is your bus, kindly signal to the bus operator that you want to board. If not, wave it by.  

If it's dark outside, you can signal the bus operator by waving a flashlight. Riders can use their phone flashlight or a handheld one.

First time users guide (Bus) -  BOARD THE BUS


STEP 7: PAY YOUR FARE

Have exact fare or a bus pass ready when you board — remember, the bus driver does not carry change. The ORCA Card (One Regional Card for All) makes using buses throughout the Puget Sound area a breeze.

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STEP 8: ARRIVE AT YOUR DESTINATION 

Push the red button or pull the cord to let the driver know that you want to get off the bus about one block before you reach your stop. If you’re not sure when to pull the cord or aren’t familiar with the stop you’re headed to, let the driver know in advance where you’d like to get off.

First time users guide (Bus) - ARRIVE AT YOUR DESTINATION

DOWNLOAD A ‘THREE QUICK STEPS’ FLYER — MULTIPLE LANGUAGES 

Prepared by Pierce Transit, this guide will help you plan for, pay and ride your next bus. 

STAR COMMUTER HIGHLIGHT 

“I take the bus. $2 per ride costs way less than the expenses that go into car ownership and it is better for the environment!” — Kelsie O.