The Sound Transit Board of Directors on May 22 unanimously approved a proposal by Boardmember and Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland for downtown Tacoma’s Business Improvement Area (BIA) to pay Sound Transit $29,000 a year for the next two years to cover net revenue from fares the agency was planning to collect beginning this September.
“We are pleased the Board has agreed to accept the Business Improvement Area’s offer to offset the need to collect fares for the next two years,” said Mayor Strickland, who is also vice chair of the Sound Transit Board. “Tacoma Link is a great option for those who travel downtown and we must do all we can to promote ridership of this popular service. BIA is commended for stepping up and actively supporting public transportation as an integral benefit to businesses, tourism, the arts and the city overall.”
Tacoma Link is currently the only service in the region that does not charge fares, due to a longstanding Sound Transit Board policy that only allows fare-free service in very limited circumstances, including when the cost of collecting fares exceeds potential revenue. With recent growth in ridership, Tacoma Link no longer falls under that policy. The outside support for covering Tacoma Link’s projected net revenues, also allowed by Board policy, will postpone the move to a fare collection system.
Last September, the Sound Transit Board approved the implementation of fares on Tacoma Link to recover some of the costs of operating the system. Fares would have started this fall at $1.00 for adults, $0.75 for youth and $0.50 for seniors and riders with disabilities, with increases in 2016. Fares are now scheduled to start in September 2016 at $1.50 for adults and $0.75 for youth, seniors and riders with disabilities.