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Sound Transit's board yesterday approved a proposal by board members and Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland for downtown Tacoma's Business Improvement Area to pay the transit agency $29,000 a year for the next two years to cover net revenue from collected fares, beginning in September.Tacoma Link currently is the only service in the region that does not charge fares, due to a longstanding Sound Transit policy that allows fare-free service only in limited circumstances, including when the cost of collecting fares exceeds potential revenue. With recent ridership growth, Tacoma Link no longer falls under that policy, Sound Transit officials said in a press release. The outside support for covering Tacoma Link's projected net revenues, also allowed by board policy, will postpone the move to a fare collection system, they said."We are pleased the board has agreed to accept the Business Improvement Area's offer to offset the need to collect fares for the next two years," said Strickland, who also serves as Sound Transit's vice chairman. "Tacoma Link is a great option for those who travel downtown and we must do all we can to promote ridership of this popular service. BIA is commended for stepping up and actively supporting public transportation as an integral benefit to businesses, tourism, the arts and the city overall."In September 2013, the board approved the charging of fares on Tacoma Link to recover some costs of operations. Fares would have been implemented this fall.
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