Making Bus Riding More Equitable

In 2016, voters in Wake County passed the Wake County Transit Referendum. This initiative and funding will help us grow our ridership and create Bus Rapid Transit (15-minute headway bus routes). While the steps we’re taking for the future are important, we also need to be looking at our current system to see how we can make riding more equitable.

Right now, individuals who ride the bus regularly and consistently can buy a monthly bus pass for $45. This reduced pass is a great way to encourage and reward regular riders to go ahead and buy a monthly pass.

But, what if you can’t pay $45.00 at one time? Then you pay the daily fare of $2.50. Which means, if you ride the bus for 31 days (the monthly pass length), you end up paying $77.50. That’s $32.50 more.

With an eye toward equity, we can quickly see how the current system isn’t fair and is not working for our bus riders who need the most help. So, I’ve been encouraging our staff to look into what’s known as “fare capping.” Fare capping would allow a rider to pay the daily fare, but once they hit the monthly pass cost ($45), they could ride for free for the rest of the month.

I’m delighted to report that our staff and partners are passionate about fare capping and making bus riding more equitable. They are working hard to get new technology that could track when a daily rider hits that monthly cap. In the meantime, staff are also working on an interim solution so we can start helping some of our most regular transit users as soon as possible.