Wichita Transit saw a substantial increase in riders during Free Fares Week, July 14-19, a promotion designed to raise awareness about Transit services, increase ridership and help the environment.
There were 58,415 rides during the week, enough passengers to fill 8,345 minivans or 112 Boeing 747s or 10 Royal Caribbean cruise ships. The increase in ridership was up 41% compared to 2011 averages, 59% compared to 2012 averages, and 71% compared to 2013. Transit’s ridership declined between 2011 and 2012, after a fare increase. Transit officials will monitor ridership after Free Fares Week to determine if any new ridership is retained.
Many riders were new to riding Wichita Transit buses; some posted on Facebook that they look forward to riding again. Riders posted more than 80 selfies on the bus for the #wichitatransitselfie contest.
Free Fares Week was not the last opportunity for Free Fares this year. Ozone Alert Days will also offer Free Fares Days. Ozone Alerts Days occur when ozone levels are expected to be high. Choosing a ride on public transit instead of driving a car on Ozone Alert Days will help keep ozone levels low in order to avoid exceeding federal ozone limits and related fines.
Ozone Alert Day notices will be available on highway marquees, local news outlets and the City of Wichita and Wichita Transit websites and social media sites. Please sign up for Ozone Alert Day email notifications at www.wichita.gov/ozone
Wichita Transit provided Travel Training to 81 prospective riders before Free Fares Week. Travel Trainings are still available. Groups of 15 or more are invited to schedule a Travel Training to receive guidance on reading transit schedules, finding your best route, paying your fare, etc. For more information about Travel Training, please visit www.wichitatransit.org
Free Fares is funded by the Wichita Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (WAMPO) as a project to reduce congestion and improve air quality in the Wichita metro region.