Colorado Free Transit Program Boosted Ridership

Many local transit agencies that took advantage of a state program that funded free fares throughout August have seen increased ridership even beyond the program’s end.

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December 1, 2022, 12:00 PM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Colorado’s month-long experiment with fare-free transit could have lasting impacts, writes Olivia Prentzel in the Colorado Sun, as many transit agencies around the state are seeing sustained ridership numbers after the program ended. The state offered $28 million in grants to agencies that made transit free in August as an effort to reduce air pollution at the time of year with the highest ozone emissions.

While ridership numbers dipped after the no-fare promotion ended, at least nine of the 14 public transit agencies that participated in the Zero Fare for Better Air program saw more riders in September compared with July, including the Regional Transportation District — which saw a 14% increase in its average weekday ridership from July to September, according to the agency’s final report on the program submitted to the state Wednesday.

As the article notes, “Drawing conclusions from the one-month pilot is challenging, as numbers can be influenced by the start of the school year and large scheduled events, like the Colorado Avalanche games during the NHL playoffs and the Stanley Cup championship parade.” The state is still weighing how to spend remaining funds and whether to renew the program next year.

Thursday, December 1, 2022 in The Colorado Sun

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