Business Community Transportation

Pierce County offers holiday shuttle connecting Key Peninsula, Gig Harbor

Posted on November 24th, 2023 By:

Pierce County will contract with private operator Around the Sound to operate a shuttle service connecting the Key Peninsula to attractions in Gig Harbor on weekends during the 2023 holiday season.

The county hopes that the temporary service will serve as a pilot program that leads to improved transit service on the Key Peninsula, according to Pierce County Councilwoman Robyn Denson. Officials are urging people to use the shuttle in order to demonstrate a need and help the county obtain future funding.

Shuttle service

Service starts on Black Friday and will continue on Saturdays and Sundays through Christmas Eve. The first shuttle starts at 8:30 a.m. from the Longbranch Improvement Club; the final return trip departs the Gig Harbor Safeway at 4:53 p.m.

Stops on the Key Peninsula include Evergreen Elementary, Key Peninsula Community Services, Key Peninsula Middle School, the Key Center IGA and Lake Kathryn Village. In Gig Harbor, the shuttle will stop at Costco, the corner of Harborview Drive and Pioneer Way, outside Ross Dress for Less in the Olympic Village shopping complex, Fred Meyer and Safeway.

A full round trip, all the way from Longbranch to Safeway and back, is expected to take an hour to 75 minutes. Click here for a full schedule of stops. 

A free holiday shuttle will take riders between locations on the Key Peninsula and Gig Harbor on Black Friday and Saturdays and Sundays through Christmas Eve. A kick-off for the service was held last weekend. Photo courtesy Robyn Denson

‘A real need for transit’

The idea is to give KeyPen residents another option for getting into Gig Harbor for holiday shopping and recreational activities.

“We know there’s a real need for transit on the Key Peninsula,” Denson said. “We’re just really encouraging people to ride so we get good data and can go after bigger grants” to expand opportunities in the future. 

The Pierce County Human Services Department put the shuttle program together after Denson discovered about $15,000 in use-it-or-lose-it funds that would not be used for their budgeted purpose. The county took on the program because Pierce Transit does not offer routed service on the Key Peninsula. 

Pierce Transit will offer a fare-free day on Black Friday for its local bus, Shuttle and Runner services to help residents get around. 

 Business boon

All that free transit should be a boon to Gig Harbor businesses during the critical holiday shopping season. 

“It’s bringing people to the businesses around the Key Peninsula, the library, community center. But also all the shopping in Gig Harbor,” Denson said. “It’s designed to help our business community.”

The Gig Harbor Downtown Waterfront Alliance is planning a big push for Nov. 25, aka Small Business Saturday.

The Alliance’s Waterfront Bucks Bonanza program will distribute 500 promotional cards of varying value. Shoppers can redeem them at any of 31 downtown businesses. Click here for details. 

The Alliance is also promoting “Shop and Drop” opportunities at Snapology and Stitch-a-roo and Art too on Small Business Saturday. That allows parents to drop off their kids for fun activities, while the parents shop for those same kids.