Foursquare ITP provided the City with a concrete feasibility assessment and roadmap for implementing a discounted or fare-free product for the city’s low-income residents. The City of Alexandria identified increasing access to high-quality public transportation as an important initiative that could benefit the City’s residents and serve as a model for smaller jurisdictions throughout the region and beyond. The City needed a sound analysis conducted to understand the pros, cons, and other considerations of different fare discount options.
Foursquare ITP researched existing programs nationwide, interviewed City departments that could lead the efforts, and conducted analyses to determine the impacts of a new program. Upon study initiation, the Foursquare ITP team worked with City and MWCOG staff to identify a list of potential fare-free and discount fare options that the City was interested in evaluating. The City felt confident moving forward with implementing zero-fare service based on our analysis.
The analysis indicated that free fares would increase ridership on the DASH system by about 23 percent and result in $2.6 million in foregone fare revenue in FY 2022. Foregone fare revenue would increase to $5.5 million in FY 2025, but the net cost increase would be $5.0 million due to the elimination of fare collection. After implementing zero-fare service in September 2021, the DASH bus system saw its ridership increase 26% in the first month. By July 2022, ridership had more than doubled since the previous July.With this growth, DASH has eclipsedridership levels from 2019.
Solutions and Outcomes
City staff and council reviewed the study and used the results to move to fare free transit within six months of project completion.