Alexandria’s DASH bus network is outpacing its neighbors in ridership growth.

A DASH bus in Old Town Alexandria (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Alexandria’s DASH bus network ridership is growing faster than bus networks in Arlington and Fairfax, though not as quickly as local rail ridership.

A report to the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission showed that DASH had a 17% increase in ridership from August 2022 to August 2023.

The total ridership in August 2023 was 1.3 million, nearly double the ART bus ridership and slightly more than half that of the Fairfax Connector. ART bus ridership grew 11% over the last year, while the Fairfax Connector’s ridership grew 15%.

Still, that doesn’t hold a candle to regional ridership of the Metro, which had a 36% ridership growth in the last year to a total of 7.7 million riders on the Virginia lines this past August.

Ridership trends for the region (image via Northern Virginia Transportation Commission)

It’s been a banner year in ridership for Alexandria’s DASH bus network. The bus network celebrated record high ridership earlier this year, fueled by a mix of realigning the system to prioritize more frequent service in higher-density corridors and going fully fare-free — though whether that change is permanent is unclear, given the long-term challenge offsetting the lost income presents.