Lawrence Transit reviews first quarter of fare free service

May 10, 2023

After the first few months of 2023, it’s time to reflect on the impact of fare free service. Early data indicates that, so far, the program is successfully improving City Strategic Plan progress indicators. People are riding more often and to new places, transit service is on time more often, and riders are spending money in the community that they used to spend on the bus, while also saving more money. The pilot program will continue until December 2023 and will be evaluated for 2024 continuation in Fall 2023. The 2023 Fare Free Pilot Program is financially supported by increased federal transit funding.

Strategic Plan progress indicators impacted by the Fare Free Pilot Program include:

  • CC-2: Percent of residents satisfied or very satisfied with their transportation experiences.
  • CC-4: Percent of goals met for reliability of transit.
  • CC-9: Cost per fixed route passenger trip on Lawrence Transit.
  • CC-11: Percent of trips not taken in automobile (driven-alone).

“We are very encouraged by the increases in rides that we are seeing across the system, and by initial responses from riders who tell us fare free service has allowed them to spend more money in the community and save more as well,” said Adam Weigel, Transit & Parking Manager. “We look forward to continuing to talk to riders and drivers about their experiences and make the bus work better for everyone, especially those who have lower income in our community.”

Here’s what we’ve learned so far:

  • Fixed route ridership is exceeding pre-pandemic ridership on 5 out of 12 City or City-KU coordinated routes, and 3 additional routes are at 90% or greater of pre-pandemic ridership.
  • On-time performance has improved in 10 out of 12 routes, indicating faster travel times without needing to collect fares.
  • Eliminating fares has equity impact, both in accessibility and financially. For riders making less than $50,000 a year, 97% report taking the bus more on familiar trips, and 82% report taking new trips on different routes. 68% report that riding the bus for free has allowed them to spend more money in the community, and 68% also indicate that they are able to save more.

To view the full report, with more detailed explanations of the statistics, please click here.

For more information, visit or call (785) 864-4644. You can also find us on Facebook: @LawrenceTransit and on Twitter: @TransitLawrence.