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GRTC to continue free bus rides through June 2024

Citing a 15-percent uptick in ridership since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, strong public support, and the importance of transit equity, GRTC’s governing board voted unanimously to extend the pilot program through June 2024 and possibly beyond.

Trevor Dickerson

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Riding the bus will continue to be free for another year in the Richmond region.

Citing a 15-percent uptick in ridership since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, strong public support, and the importance of transit equity, GRTC’s governing board voted unanimously to extend the pilot program through June 2024 and possibly beyond.

“I think we as a board stand committed to collaboratively supporting regional connectivity, and this vote supports that,” GRTC Board of Directors Chairman Tyrone Nelson said. “Ridership for our agency is trending in the opposite direction from what the industry is experiencing, and we believe our Zero-Fare program helps our region stay connected.”

GRTC recently received funding from the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation to support the program through June 2025 with assurances that a local match would be made to offset the total cost of the annual $5.6 million program. With its vote, the board committed as a region to support the funding gap of the local match for the fiscal year 2024.

“As ridership continues to outpace previous years, we are optimistic that the value of accessible transit continues to grow with it,” GRTC Interim CEO Sheryl Adams said. “As we remain focused on the ridership experience, we continue to work towards improving the lives of essential workers, which includes our bus operators.”

The board will continue to study the financial impacts of extending the program beyond June 2024.

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Trevor Dickerson is the Editor and Co-Founder of RVAHub.