Intercity Transit (IT) is currently exploring the possibility of eliminating fares, “zero-fare” as its called in IT documents. Meetings will be held on November 6th and 20th at 5:30 PM at 526 Pattison St SE, Olympia (on the 62, 66 and 60 buses) during which the possibility of going fare-free will hopefully be discussed. We encourage people to attend these meeting to express support for fare-free.
There other ways to advocate for fare-free service in the lead-up outside of these meetings. Firstly, when the fare-free pilot One bus
between Capital Mall and Martin Way P&R comes online (hopefully in the next few weeks) everyone should ride it as much as possible and boost the ridership figures. Higher ridership will signal support for fare-free service. Stay tuned for “bus riding parties.” IT monitors the ridership of the existing free Dash bus in downtown, so give that a ride whenever you can too.
Please consider writing emails, filling out comment cards, calling Intercity Transit, writing letters to the editor, or speaking at public comment during Intercity Transit meetings about the importance of fare-free transit.
Public Comment: Attend public meetings on Nov. 6th and Nov. 20th at location listed above.
Comment Cards: Can be found and submitted at the customer service desk at Olympia Transit Center.
These are some of the important points to address when advocating for zero-fare transit.
-Economic and social justice: Transit fares are an arbitrary barrier to movement that overwhelmingly disadvantage poor people. With zero-fare service, mobility will increase and employment, housing, education, social services, cultural activities and leisure will become more accessible to everyone. Note that transit-dependent riders are disproportionately low-income, homeless, disabled, elderly, people of color, women, youth and immigrants. These groups will benefit most from zero-fare service.
Auto use is a leading cause of climate change, responsible for nearly 20% carbon of emissions in the U.S.
Studies show that implementing zero-fare transit can lead to 30%-40% increases in transit ridership,
encouraging car owners to use transit instead of driving. Particularly with shifts to electric bus usage among transit systems throughout the U.S., free public transit is an absolute necessity to mitigate the climate crisis.
Fare collection only accounts for 7% of Intercity Transit’s revenue.
Accounting for maintenance of fareboxes and labor and accounting costs associated with handling fares, the percentage decreases further to probably 5% or 6% of total revenue. With dramatically increased ridership, Intercity Transit will likely be able to access more federal funding to expand service further. Financial partnerships with NGOs, employers and municipal governments could also easily fill any small funding gap. With less traffic congestion and air pollution, healthcare and road repair costs will decrease.
Increasing bus speeds:
Fare-free service permits the implementation of all-doors boarding, allowing people to board buses at back doors as well as front doors. This leads to less crowding overall during boarding. Zero-fare eliminates the “fare fumble” of people scrambling to procure exact change for bus fare, delaying buses. Zero-fare will decrease “dwell” time at bus stops and on average improve general bus speeds by 3%-7%.
Increased bus speeds improve rider experiences and contribute to high ridership.
Safety: In the U.S. a significant amount of disputes and altercations on public transit are related to fare collection. Zero-fare service is thus a workplace safety measure for bus drivers. Buses are also safer vehicles than cars. With more bus riders and fewer cars on the roads, car accidents could decrease as could illnesses related to chemical pollution.