WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — D.C. could see free buses as early as July of 2023 thanks to a bill that the D.C. Council passed unanimously on Tuesday. D.C. will be the most populous city to provide free bus transportation.
The D.C. Council had its final vote on the Metro for D.C. bill, which was introduced by Councilmember Charles Allen. In addition to free buses, the bill will also introduce a $100 monthly balance on registered SmarTrip cards for D.C. residents starting in 2024.
The bill has four main parts as follows:
- All WMATA buses in D.C. will be free to riders starting next summer;
- Overnight service will be established for 12 bus lines;
- A $10 million bus service improvement fund will go towards bus lanes, shelters and other improvements;
- and D.C. residents will all get a $100 monthly subsidy to use on Metrorail, buses outside of D.C. and anywhere else SmarTrip cards are accepted.
Officials said that the estimated cost for the subsidy dropped by $36-38 million after taking the free bus fares into account.
A release from the Council also listed the following findings:
Release from D.C. Councilmember Charles Allen
- 84% of bus riders in D.C. are residents, compared with 44% of rail riders who board in D.C.
- 60% of D.C. residents who ride the bus are Black while 60% of D.C. residents who take the rail are white
- DC residents who ride the bus are 60% more likely to be Latino than D.C. residents who take the rail
- 68% of D.C. residents who take the bus have household incomes below $50,000, and 51% of D.C. residents who take the rail have household incomes above $75,000
- C. residents who ride the bus are half as likely to have a workplace transit subsidy as residents who take the rail
- The highest income transit riders living in D.C. are 5x as likely to have a workplace transit subsidy as the lowest income riders
- C. residents who ride the bus are half as likely to work for the federal government as D.C. residents who take the rail
- Over the past two decades, 7% of revenues that WMATA used for operations came from bus fares