Alexandria’s DASH buses might be free soon if Mayor Justin M. Wilson’s proposal to rethink the popular transit service comes to fruition. Wilson outlined a long-term vision to restructure the Virginia city’s buses in his April newsletter, including an upcoming overhaul of the DASH system’s route structure to provide more frequent transit for low-income, minority, and senior residents.
According to wtop.com, “Billed as a re-imagining of the DASH network, those route changes were approved by the Alexandria Transit Company board in late 2019 and will take effect this September. Wilson said he sees that as an opportunity to make another significant change: An end to ridership fees, a move he says will help boost low ridership brought on by the pandemic. He said a consultant-led study of DASH and WMATA fare options in the city found such a move would increase annual DASH ridership by over 23%.”
As per wtop.com, “DASH passenger revenue for the fiscal year 2022 is budgeted at $2,032,000, so the city’s contribution would need to rise by that amount to fully compensate for the loss of fares. Wilson noted the fiscal impact would be relatively low at first due to reduced ridership during the pandemic but would rise in future fiscal years as riders return and the city seeks more enhancements. Alternatives to full-fare elimination proposed by city staff include free or reduced fares for low-income riders, and limiting free ridership to off-peak hours.”