Here’s another bit of transit good news in the Midwest. The share of workers in downtown Columbus using transit to to comment rose from 5% to somewhere between 10-14% in only about a year. Columbus underground has the story.
This ridership surge is a result of the C-Pass program, which provides a free bus pass to downtown workers. I’ve argued for a while that small cities should have fareless transit. Their farebox recovery is generally very small. Overall ridership is low. And the system is mostly below capacity. What’s more, the riders of these systems are disproportionately poor.
The Columbus examples shows that going fareless can have a big impact. This is also de facto validated by the experience with road tolling in places like Louisville. Commuting across that city’s newly tolled bridges is $4/day, roughly equal to a bi-directional transit fare. This prompted huge diversion to the remaining free bridges, showing that people are willing to go out of their way to avoid paying even a relatively small user change.
And in another interesting Columbus transport story, that city is about to launch an app with integrated access to all transportation modes, public and private. This will also be something worth watching.