RICHMOND, Va (WRIC) – Passengers will continue to be able to ride the GRTC buses for free through June of next year.
The decision was made by the board of directors Tuesday morning to extend the zero fare program that originally started on March 19, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
GRTC wanted to keep the fare free for riders for another year because many riders need to be able to get around town, whether it’s to a job or school, and many are still financially recovering from the pandemic.
“I don’t have a way of transportation to get around the city and it’s a blessing to be able to get around, back and forth to doctor’s appointments and things like that,” bus passenger Horace Woods told 8News Tuesday.
GRTC is able to continue the zero fare program thanks to $5.8 million in federal COVID-19 funding for fiscal year 2022.
“I get to see my family; I can go to work,” said Kvon Johnson, another GRTC passenger. He adde the free bus rides are a blessing.
For rider Reggie Rodwell, it’s a chance to be able to take care of his 85-year-old dad and look for a part-time job to help him stay afloat in retirement.
“It’s very important that we keep these buses free for a while so I can help my dad,” Rodwell said.
When the federal funding dries up, Pace said GRTC is looking at ways they could keep that zero fare program going. Some possible options include state programs or partnerships with local businesses. such as a one the company already has with Virginia Commonwealth University.
“GRTC is already looking at the long-range planning with our funding partners on what that could feasibly look like should zero fare continue beyond June 30, 2022,” Pace told 8News Tuesday.
There’s a zero fare program the state is piloting with transit systems across Virginia. Pace said GRTC could take part in it, which would allow the buses to stay fare-free past this time next year.