So it looks like the Tecoline Streetcar system in Tampa is finally going to be a free ride. It's not "free" in the holistic sense -- the Florida Department of Transportation is basically footing the bill as part of an aligned strategy with Tampa to expose people's preference for smooth fixed guideway transportation while traversing Ybor, Channelside and the downtown. By exposing rider preference on a large scale the idea is to improve the case for Tampa's migration to a modern streetcar system.
Other factors beside fare price are important in exposing commuter preference, such as headway times, but the grant funding will improve that too. Rides will now be by every 15 minutes instead of 20.
I also imagine that with a dormant fare collection system boardings will be greatly sped up, meaning that all in all, the whole thing will just flow so much better.
A couple of years of this should be enough time to acclimate and fester demand for more fixed guideway which is crucial for the pursuit of funds to laterally transform the system from a nostalgia to a modern one which more resembles light rail but on a sort of mini-scale.
In fact, the Kansas City Streetcar, a modern one similar to that which Tampa is seriously pursuing, has been scott free to direct riders since it began and it is regarded by those looking on as a success.
Oh, on the heels of wrapping this entry up -- the Tampa Bay Times has expressed as much in their opinion.