Thursday, April 28, 2016
Keeping Link Fare Free (for now)
Without getting into too many details, Sound Transit is considering allowing the Downtown Tacoma BIA an opportunity to continue annual payments to keep the Link free until the extension is complete. (Details if you really want them.) This will avoid a potentially significant drop in ridership that would impact all of downtown.
Under previous agreements, a fare of $1.50 per ride is planned for implementation later this fall. Should no adjustments be made, Sound Transit's projections suggest an approximate 25 percent drop in ridership. Meanwhile, Atlanta began charging for its similarly sized downtown system in January and has seen an average 48 percent drop in ridership during the first quarter (link: Atlanta Journal-Constitution).
Can you imagine how much downtown Tacoma would change if somewhere between 200,000 and 500,000 trips were by car instead? Or what if those trips never happened at all? Would you still head down the street for lunch at Indochine or Savor? Would someone attending a concert at the Tacoma Dome still decide to stay at the Marriott or Murano? Both history and projections say that hundreds of thousands of people will say "no."
Once the extension of the Link is complete it will look and feel more like a standard transit line having more than doubled its length and connecting multiple neighborhoods. Unfortunately, some people feel the Link should be charged for now in part specifically to reduce the number of riders (link: The News Tribune ).