Credit: NW News Network Passengers on Thursday warmly greeted the elimination of fare collection on Intercity Transit buses in Olympia. As of the New Year, no bus fare is needed to ride the Olympia area’s Intercity Transit. On Wednesday, the transit agency became the largest in the Pacific Northwest to eliminate fare collection, leapfrogging Corvallis and Missoula which did so earlier. Intercity Transit leadership looked at the cost of replacing its obsolete fareboxes with new electronic fare card readers and decided it wasn’t worth it, especially given the potential to increase ridership and speed up boarding by not charging fares at all. "It costs a lot of money to collect money, which is surprising to a lot of people," General Manager Ann Freeman-Manzanares said in an interview Thursday. "Looking at the broad list of things the community wanted us to address — in terms of access, equity, speed, reliability, addressing the environment, making sure that we’re as efficient as possible — the combination of those things actually led us to zero-fare." It helps that fare collections accounted for less than two percent of the agency’s net operating revenue. Intercity Transit said that anticipated ridership increases will likely qualify it […]

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