Courtesy Intercity Transit via Facebook

Thurston County’s Public Transit Agency, Intercity Transit, has been awarded the first prize for the 2020 AdWheel Awards. Sponsored by the American Public Transportation System (APTA), the AdWheel Awards recognizes how transit authorities involve the surrounding community in outreach and planning.

Intercity Transit will be recognized formally at an APTA conference in late February. At the time of its recognition, Intercity Transit will also be considered for an APTA Grand Award for recognition among all public transit systems in North America.

The campaign that Intercity Transit is being recognized for is called IT Road Trip, an initiative involving thousands of community members in the decision of future transit alternatives. IT Road Trip helped to determine and approve Intercity Transit Proposition 1, which passed by 67 percent of voters in November 2018, to increase sales tax revenue to aid with service enhancements requested by the public. After the passing of Proposition 1, Intercity Transit was able to put additional buses on routes, extend commuting hours, and service new locations.

Additionally, all Intercity Transit buses went to a zero-fare policy in early 2020. This means that riders can just hop on the bus and ride for no cost. Implementing this system has helped to save millions in new capital expenses and has helped to make boarding faster for more efficient trips. The zero-fare policy has stimulated a nearly 20 percent spike in ridership in the first month alone.

General manager Ann Freeman-Manzanares said, “The growth in ridership, along with hearing from customers that zero-fare is improving their lives, is so rewarding, and exactly why we wanted to move forward with the five-year zero-fare demonstration. We are hopeful that other benefits will include positive social, economic and environmental impacts to our community.”