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Charlottesville Area Transit to remain fare-free into 2026

Charlottesville Area Transit service will free for riders for the next four years, the city announced in a press release Tuesday.

Since March 2020, CAT has provided a fare-free service, responding to citizens in financial need during the COVID-19 pandemic. In Sept. 2021, CAT submitted an application to the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation requesting funding through the Transit Ridership Incentive Program to continue the zero-fare operating model. The bus service is run by the city in partnership with Albemarle County.

According to the press release, funding from the American Rescue Plan and Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act paved the way for CAT to set a course toward a three-year, zero-fare model. Now with an additional million dollars, CAT will continue the fixed-route zero-fare model until June 30, 2026.

“CAT is a valuable and necessary asset to the community, and the awarding of a TRIP grant is a major step forward to improving access to public transportation in the region. This funding will remove a financial barrier for low income individuals who are transit dependent,” CAT’s Director of Transit Garland Williams said in the release.

Pre-pandemic, farebox and fairpass revenues annually brought in between $200,000 and $215,000 and about $146,000, respectively.


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