Public transportation has long been an affordable way for residents and visitors to get around major cities and metropolitan areas.
But for some people, using public transportation can mean multiple routes and require different modes of transportation, making options difficult, scarce, or prohibitively expensive.
That’s why Washington DC has decided to make public buses for free to all residents and visitors from next summer as pandemic restrictions ease and more people return to work daily.
The Council unanimously approved the plan (dubbed the Fare-Free Bus Funding Emergency Act), which also included expanding 24-hour bus service to 12 major boroughs.
“Free transit, of course, is only as good as the frequency and reliability of that service,” said Charles Allen, Ward 6 Councilman. per DC News Now. “It’s an investment in better service and ensures that WMATA gets what it needs to recoup riders.”
The bus, which normally costs $2, will begin offering free rides on or around July 1 and will be implemented as a permanent change for the city moving forward. The new program only applies to metrobuses, not to circulation buses (owned by the city) or the Metrorail.
The Associated Press pointed out that the number of passengers on city buses during the week is about 74% of what it was before the pandemic.
It is estimated that the new project will cost a total of approximately $40 million to implement, with $32 million going to the toll-free buses and $8.5 million to extending service hours.