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DASH bus ridership rebounds in Alexandria

Electric DASH bus, photo via DASH/Facebook

The Alexandria bus system has seen a significant uptick in ridership over the last few months, thanks in part to the new fare-free policy, changes to the DASH network and declining Covid numbers.

DASH said ridership hit nearly 300,000 total boardings in March, a 73% increase over ridership in August before the change to the new network. Ridership dipped significantly in January during the Omicron variant.

“In the first four months after the new network launch in September 2021, DASH saw a 50% increase in monthly boardings, which was the largest four-month ridership surge in over a decade,” the bus system said in a release. “After briefly receding in January and February due to the Omicron variant, ridership spiked again in March with a nearly 46% increase over February. DASH has now achieved 95% of pre-COVID ridership levels. The 73% increase from August 2021 to March 2022 marks the largest ridership increase over a seven-month span in recent DASH history.”

DASH said the largest ridership increases have been middays and weekends, in part due to the changes to the bus schedule. The new schedule provides more off-peak service in the West End, Arlandria and along King Street. The release also noted that higher gas prices may have been a windfall for bus ridership.

The city announced plans to make DASH fare free last April and the change went into effect in September. The city has pursued state funding to help make the change long-term.

“We are absolutely thrilled to see that the Alexandria community is embracing the first phase of our long-term Alexandria Transit Vision (ATV) Plan,” said DASH General Manager/CEO Josh Baker in the release. “Our shared goal with the City of Alexandria in implementing the ATV Plan is to provide more useful bus service that makes transit a more relevant option for more trips in Alexandria. As we continue to get more people on the bus, the entire Alexandria community benefits from less traffic congestion, reduced parking demand, reduced climate impact, and a better overall quality of life.”

Photo via DASH/Facebook

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