Submitted by Intercity Transit

The Intercity Transit Authority (Authority) will hold a public hearing on Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019 to receive comments on a five-year, “zero-fare” demonstration project. The Authority will vote whether to implement the project on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019 at Intercity Transit’s administrative office located at 526 Pattison St. SE in Olympia. If passed the project will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2020.

The zero-fare system would eliminate fare collection on buses and Dial-A-Lift, which would increase access to those services, reduce travel times, and eliminate the need to replace outdated fare collection equipment.

Last year, the community approved Intercity Transit Proposition 1 to expand transit services within the agency’s service area which includes Lacey, Olympia, Tumwater, and Yelm. With the passage of IT Proposition 1, Intercity Transit committed to nine specific service enhancements that would make our transit system “transformational.” The agency has already implemented 60 percent of those improvements, including earlier and later service, improved frequency, service to new areas, and enhanced facilities.

After evaluating a range of options, including new fare collection technologies, the Authority determined a zero-fare system may be the most efficient and economical way to achieve the transformational transit system voters supported in 2018. Transitioning to zero-fare would not require any additional public investment or result in any service cuts. The upcoming hearing provides an opportunity for the public to comment on the Authority’s proposed zero-fare demonstration.

According to General Manager, Ann Freeman-Manzanares, zero-fare offers distinct advantages over alternative fare structures. Most notably, systems that institute zero-fare programs have experienced ridership increases from 20 to 60 percent. “It’s clear the community has bigger plans for transit. They want us to move more people more quickly and reduce congestion. Frankly, zero-fare is probably the least expensive and most efficient way we can accomplish those goals.”

Replacing obsolete fare collection boxes or moving to integrated e-fare systems like ORCA, would cost the agency millions. There are also practical considerations. Fare collection takes time as people search for the right change and it creates barriers for riders. According to Authority Chair, Debbie Sullivan, “replacing the fare collection system doesn’t make sense when the community is telling us to reduce barriers, increase ridership and make service faster.”

You can provide comments on the zero-fare demonstration project by:

  • Calling 360-705-5852.
  • Emailing tellus@intercitytransit.com.
  • Mailing Zero-Fare, Intercity Transit, P.O. Box 659, Olympia, WA 98507.
  • Attending a public hearing on Nov. 20, 2019, 5:30 p.m. at Intercity Transit’s business office, 526 Pattison St. SE in Olympia.

For more information about the zero-fare demonstration project visit itzerofare.com.

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