Rollout for unlimited bus passes slated for Nov. 15
Jeremy M. Lazarus | 10/9/2015, 7:38 a.m.
Tens of thousands of people came to the world bike races last week, but only a few appear to have purchased a $35 pass for unlimited rides on GRTC buses.
The Greater Richmond Transit Co. could not provide sales numbers this week, but reported that passes were used 1,500 times between Sept. 19 and Sept. 28 when the races were underway.
The races represented the first test of the new approach to bus fares that GRTC plans to usher in Sunday, Nov. 15.
Effective that day, GRTC plans to eliminate the 25-cent transfer and begin accepting passes for unlimited rides for the first time.
Passengers would have several options.
They would still be able to use a “Go Card,” essentially a debit card-style paper ticket that costs $10 or more and from which money is deducted each time it is inserted in a fare box. However, users must pay for a ride on each bus they board.
GRTC plans to eliminate the cards sometime in the future.
Other options are to purchase a “One Ride Plus” ticket for $1.75 that would allow purchasers to ride one bus and transfer
to a second to complete a journey. Essentially, the transfer would be wrapped into the price.
Or riders can buy a pass allowing unlimited rides for a day, a week or a month.
“We believe this will provide our passengers with a better value and is in line with national trends,” said Carrie Rose Pace, GRTC spokeswoman.
Cost of the unlimited-ride passes: $3.50 for a day, $17.25 for a week and $60 for a month for most riders.
However, under a proposal now before City Council that has broad support and is expected to pass easily later this month, GRTC plans to offer a reduced-price unlimited pass for certain groups: People 65 and older, the disabled, Medicare recipients and children and youths ages 6 to 18. The proposed cost: $1.75 for a day, $8.25 for a week and $35 for a month of unlimited rides.
All monthly passes would need to be purchased online or at stores that now sell GRTC Go Cards; other passes could be purchased on a bus, Ms. Pace said.
GRTC is hoping that the passes for unlimited rides will quickly win favor with regular passengers and attract new riders seeking to cut commuting costs.
At this point, GRTC still cannot accept credit and debit card payments on its buses. “We’re still working on that,” Ms. Pace said, noting that the company plans to roll out an app that would allow purchases via mobile phone.