The Sound Transit board voted unanimously Thursday to accept a $29,000 annual donation from the Tacoma Business Improvement Area to keep rides on the Tacoma Link free for the foreseeable future.
The regional transit agency was set to begin charging a $1 adult fare later this year to help offset the cost of running the 1.5-mile line between the Tacoma Dome and downtown.
To stave off the fares, the business group agreed to extend a donation it has made for the past two years.
BIA official David Schroedel told the board Thursday that downtown businesses were worried about a drop in ridership with the imposition of a fare.
Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland, also vice chairwoman of the Sound Transit board, said it made more sense to impose fares once the Tacoma Link is extended through the Stadium District and onto the Hilltop.
Sound Transit said it cost about $4.2 million to run the line last year when nearly 1 million rode it.