PUEBLO—Pueblo Transit saw an increase of 25 percent difference over the June, July and August months for the Zero Fare for Better Air initiative with the Colorado Association of Transit Agencies (CASTA) and Colorado Energy Office. This waived bus fare opportunity expanded from just the month of August in 2022 to include three months this summer, which prompted increased ridership.
“Over the course of the entire three months of Zero Fare for Better Air, Pueblo Transit saw ridership numbers that were back to pre-pandemic levels or better,” said Director of Transit Ben Valdez. “An increase of 25 percent ridership in comparison to our 2022 numbers is wonderful and we look forward to seeing most of these riders continue their commutes and transportation needs with Pueblo Transit even when the cost to ride returns.”
Zero Fare for Better Air began on June 1 and concluded Aug. 31 with free fare for all Pueblo Transit and Citi-Lift riders. CASTA provided the underwritten costs incurred by Pueblo Transit and Citi-Lift to assist with fees going uncollected, help expand hours of operation and provided funding for marketing to encourage new riders.
The June numbers for Pueblo Transit in 2023 showed 30 percent growth with 53,917 riders this year in comparison to 41,305 in 2022. In July, Pueblo Transit ridership grew by 35 percent with 55,606 riders in 2023 in comparison to 41,305 in 2022. August Pueblo Transit ridership increased by 15 percent at 71,167 total in 2023 in comparison to 61,720 in 2022.
Citi-Lift ridership had a similar trajectory to Pueblo Transit. In June, Citi-Lift ridership showed a 29 percent increase with 4,634 in comparison to 3,580 in 2022. July Citi-Lift ridership increased 20 percent with 3,993 passengers in comparison to 3,305 in 2022. August ridership for Citi-Lift grew by 15 percent with 4,801 passengers in comparison to 4,499 in 2022.
“We were very pleased with the growth over the course of three months, given that we saw incredible growth during the one month run of Zero Fare for Better Air in August of 2022,” said Valdez. “This year our Citi-Lift and Pueblo Transit operators saw new individuals taking advantage of the free transportation. We hope this leads to a comfort level for more to continue to ride with us and will allow us to continue to expand services in the future.”
The first year of Zero Fare for Better Air for Pueblo Transit and Citi-Lift was extremely successful. Pueblo Transit numbers grew by 58 percent and Citi-Lift ridership participation grew by 17 percent during the month of August 2022.
Pueblo Transit looks to continue to partner with the community for other opportunities to remove access barriers to quality transportation and increase participation in the use of services. Increased ridership is accomplished through providing transportation to community events like those partnered with during Zero Fare for Better Air such as Pueblo Pride, Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado Food Distribution and the Colorado State Fair shuttle.