Virginia Proposal for No-Cost and Reduced-Fare Transit
Two bills in Virginia, HB1414 and SB890, include a $6.3 million proposal from Governor Ralph Northam to fund pilot projects at transit agencies in the state that would offer discounted fares to low-income riders or free routes.
The Transit Incentive Program would provide free or low-cost transit passes, eliminate fares on high-capacity routes, and establish fare-free routes for entire systems.
Proponents of the proposal say such a program would eliminate transportation costs, a major job barrier for those riders least able to afford fares, and improve equity and access. But critics say fare-free systems are costly, and they argue that funding that goes toward such systems could be used for service improvements instead.
"To Lisa Guthrie, executive director of the Virginia Transit Association, the Transit Incentive Program represents a natural next step in the Commonwealth’s dogged determination to remain the number one state for business while also beginning to tackle its status as the worst state for workers," writes Wyatt Gordon.