Submitted by Intercity Transit
Intercity Transit, Thurston County’s Public Transit Agency, has been named a First Prize Award recipient for the 2020 AdWheel Awards competition sponsored by the American Public Transportation System, or APTA. The award recognizes Intercity Transit’s comprehensive outreach effort to involve the community in transportation planning. That campaign, known as the IT Road Trip, engaged thousands of community members from all walks of life in the evaluation of future transit alternatives and, ultimately, the decision to pursue additional funding through Intercity Transit Proposition 1.
Proposition 1 was approved by voters in November 2018 by approximately 67 percent, increasing sales tax revenue to help implement service enhancements and innovations requested by the public. Following passage of Proposition 1, Intercity Transit added more buses to more routes, extended weekday evening hours for commuters, added weekend hours for workers with non-traditional hours, and service to new locations including northeast Lacey.
Earlier this year, all Intercity Transit bus and Dial-A-Lift service transitioned to zero-fare, meaning all community members can “just get on and go” without having to worry about presenting correct—or any—payment. The zero-fare system saved the agency millions in new capital expenses that would have been required to update obsolete fare collections systems and has also expedited boarding which helps reduce trip times.
Most importantly, zero-fare has stimulated a nearly 20 percent spike in ridership in the first month alone. According to General Manager, Ann Freeman-Manzanares, “the growth in ridership, along with hearing from customers that zero-fare is improving their lives, is so rewarding, and exactly why we wanted to move forward with the five-year zero-fare demonstration. We are hopeful that other benefits will include positive social, economic and environmental impacts to our community.”
Intercity Transit will be formally recognized at an APTA conference later this month. At that time, Intercity Transit will be entered into consideration for an APTA Grand Award for recognition among the best public transit systems in North America.
The IT Road Trip was earlier recognized by the Washington State Governor’s Smart Communities Program receiving first prize in the Smart Vision Award category.