DENVER — The Regional Transportation District's "fare free" August didn't cause major hiccups in operations and a rise in ridership continued into September, but RTD officials admitted they're not sure how to measure the program’s impact on air quality, according to a report analyzing the effort.
The Zero Fare for Better Air initiative came out of Senate Bill 22-180, which created the Ozone Season Free Transit Grant program run out of the Colorado Energy Office. The program is intended to reduce ozone levels and improve air quality by encouraging Coloradans to use public transit.
> The video above aired in July: Colorado public transit agencies are making buses and trains free in August
The grant program aimed to cover up to 80% of lost fare revenue, and other costs, if RTD provided free service for at least 30 days during the ozone season — which runs from June to August.
The total cost to RTD was $10.3 million, according to the report, adding that the costs would be a significant burden without the grant assistance. And overall, RTD had a positive experience offering zero-fare services, while customers appreciated it.
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