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Last week the Sound Transit board made the decision:

The Sound Transit Board of Directors [Thursday] approved a $1 fare to ride Tacoma Link starting in September 2014. The fare, which will help fund the system’s operation, will increase to $1.50 in September 2016. Youth riders will pay a fare of $0.75, while senior and disabled riders will pay $0.50 to ride Tacoma Link in 2014, with an increase to $0.75 in 2016…

To reduce the impact of charging fares to low-income populations, Sound Transit will make available discounted transit tickets and passes to human services agencies in Pierce County.

Garrett reported on the revenue and ridership impacts in July. Chris Karnes offered a thoughtful argument against the idea.

16 Replies to “Tacoma Link Fares Begin Next Year”

  1. Yikes. The cost of the fare-acceptance infrastructure alone makes me cringe a bit on this. Here’s hoping a small fraction of the farebox recovery one day helps expand the line.

  2. I do appreciate the need to fund the operations of this line with fare box recovery.

    I also have never ridden this line though, and I can understand the users who are opposed to the fee… its such a short line to begin with. There shouldn’t be a free lunch, but they really ought to speed up extending the line to make the fare more worth paying.

    1. I have ridden the line and it seems that many of the riders are connecting on to other transit services or are using the streetcar to connect with the free parking at Freighthouse Square. For the former group, a $1 fare won’t be a problem; for the latter group, that’s the cost of free parking.

      Once the line is extended, it would seem that regular ST fares should apply.

      1. I went to UW Tacoma and I’d say a VERY large majority of the riders are using it as a shuttle to park at Freighthouse Square.

      2. There are no “regular ST fares” Since Central Link is distance based; and ST Express and Sounder have a higher Premium fare there is no such thing as a regular ST local fare.

      3. To Moose’s Comment – When I used to reverse commute on the sounder, the link train would fill up to an almost uncomfortable standing room only when the sounder arrived to take people into downtown Tacoma, so there’s quite a pile of people using it to continue transit commutes – I mean, at least 150 out of the 3000ish a day are transfering from sounder to link. (I have no idea about the numbers for non-reverse commuters coming from pierce transit busses to sounder, and the other way around in the evening as I’ve never made that commute)

  3. I’m curious what infrastructure will be put in place to handle fare collection. Will there be ORCA card stations installed at each station, or will it work like the SLUT, where an ORCA card acts as proof of payment and a ticket vending machine installed on each car?

    1. The SLU Streetcar is eventually getting proper ORCA readers. Whether they’re on the vehicles or the station I don’t know. Presumedly that line will use the same solution they apply to the FHS.

      I would hope ST would follow suit on Tacoma Link to reduce proliferation of solutions but I would assume there are no guarantees there given that different agencies are calling the shots.

      1. I hope so, the few times I have ridden the SLU car I have found that there are always people having trouble paying.

        The exact change only machines on the cars are a significant barrier to people who are riding the car for the first time (Tourists, etc). I hope they improve the ticket purchasing processes as well as making the orca cards work.

        Putting bigger signs on the external purchase meters might be a good first step for the SLU line at least.

      2. Yes. Fare collection on the SLU streetcar is confusing. I have an ORCA, so I’ve gotten a freebie all these years. But for those who don’t, IIRC, the fare boxes inside the cars to NOT take credit but only bills and coins while those boxes at the stations take credit but NOT bills–coins I can’t recall. I wonder if when the First Hill segment begins next year (which I assume from inception will be set up to take the ORCA card for actual payment) ORCA readers will then be installed on the SLU line.

      3. @Lightning Also, the fare boxes only take exact change on the train. Those off the train are easily confused for parking meters because… they are PARKING METERS. Which is fine, but there is very little signage to tell you otherwise.

      4. The only thing more offensive than the FHSC’s terrible routing and delay-maximizing lane layout and stop placement, or than its reduction to an unusable 15-minute headway at all non-peak times, is its stated intent to enforce a fare equivalent to the peak Metro fare at all hours.

        To connect to First Hill via this slow, infrequent fraud will actually cost more than the in-city Link fare, which was supposed to directly serve First Hill in the first place!

    2. I would hope for consistency’s sake, that they install the typical setup (TVM and Stand Alone ORCA reader) at each station. It will be interesting to see if they reprogram the TVMs at TDS to handle both LINK and Sounder.

      1. Consistency would be great. As would signage about how to do this correctly (which seems like it would be relatively cheap).

        Both would go a long way to avoid confusion, especially among new users for which these new systems need to make a good impression.

  4. A buck seems reasonable. I would point out that Tacoma Link is longer than the Monorail or the SLU. ST’s policy is that free fares are okay as long as the cost of collection outweighs the cost of forgoing fares. With over a million annual riders, that is no longer the case.

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