Sound Transit considers fares for downtown Tacoma’s free Link light rail

Sound Transit is accepting public comments on a plan to implement fares for riding downtown Tacoma’s Link light rail.

Tacoma Link light rail is Sound Transit’s only fare-free service and has provided free rides since it began service a decade ago. According to Sound Transit officials, free fares are typically allowed in instances when it would cost more to collect fares than the amount those fares would generate. Ten years later, however, that policy no longer applies because Tacoma Link light rail serves about a million rides annually. Collecting fares would generate revenue sufficient to cover collection costs and help offset operating costs, according to Sound Transit officials. If approved by Sound Transit Board of Directors, an adult fare could range from one dollar to two dollars, with lower rates for children, seniors and people with disabilities.

This summer, Sound Transit began to meet with citizens, community groups, social service organizations and other stakeholders to inform the community about this potential change, discuss potential impacts that collecting fares could have on low-income and minority populations, and to develop appropriate actions to mitigate those impacts. Later this month, Sound Transit Board of Directors is expected to consider whether to charge fares and, if so, how much they will be. If fares are adopted, Sound Transit will not begin to collect them until mid-2014 or later.

Sound Transit will hold an open house on the issue on Thurs., Sept. 19 between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. in the lobby of the Pantages Theater, located at 901 Broadway, in downtown Tacoma. Sound Transit will also hold a public hearing on the issue on Thurs., Sept. 19 at 5 p.m. in Tacoma City Council Chambers, Tacoma Municipal Building, 747 Market Street, in downtown Tacoma. You can send submit your public comments by e-mail at fares@soundtransit.org, by telephone at 866-940-4387, or by mail at Sound Transit, ATTENTION: Fare Integration (PEPD), 401 S. Jackson St., Seattle, WA 98104.

More information is available online at soundtransit.org.

Downtown Tacoma Link light rail. (PHOTO COURTESY SOUND TRANSIT)

Downtown Tacoma Link light rail. (PHOTO COURTESY SOUND TRANSIT)

To read the Tacoma Daily Index‘s complete and comprehensive coverage of a decade of downtown Tacoma’s Link light rail, click on the following links: