GRTC will continue free rides through June 2022 after the Board of Directors approved its 2021-2022 budget on Tuesday.
GRTC CEO Julie Timm said in a news release that local ridership is rebounding to pre-pandemic levels and that Richmond’s pandemic ridership drops had been “modest” compared with national declines.
Timm attributed the rebound to zero fare operations, the 2018 network redesign and COVID-19 protective measures for staff and riders that were enacted early in the pandemic.
GRTC will use $5.8 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds to help offset revenue lost from fares.
Prior to the pandemic, the public transit corporation received $6.8 million in fare revenue from riders and paid $1.6 million in fare collection expenses, resulting in a $5.2 million net revenue from fares.
GRTC’s overall operating and capital expense for fiscal year 2022 are expected to approach $100 million, the release said.
Nonstaffing fare expenses were removed from the 2021-2022 budget and fare collection staff have been offered nonfare jobs within GRTC.
GRTC paused fare collection on all local bus, Pulse bus, Express bus and CARE paratransit vans in March 19, 2020 in response to public health measures and in the interest of economically distressed communities who rely on the public transit system.