The Alexandria Transit Company, which operates the DASH bus system, is celebrating the 1-year anniversary of the launch of its fare-free New DASH Network. The redesigned bus network debuted on September 5, 2021, with more frequent, all-day bus service, simplified route structures, new route names, and the discontinuation of fare collection on all DASH buses. One year later, record-breaking ridership growth and a wealth of positive customer feedback are evidence of the early success and increased usefulness of the New DASH Network.
Over the last year, ridership surged to nearly 350,000 boardings in July 2022, more than double the ridership from July 2021. With this growth, DASH is now eclipsing pre-COVID ridership levels from 2019. While ridership has surged across all days and time periods, the largest increases have been registered during off-peak periods. Average Sunday ridership, for example, has tripled from July 2021 to July 2022.
The New DASH Network also delivers sweeping improvements in access to frequent bus service, particularly for low-income, senior and minority residents. Nearly 115,000 Alexandria residents (73%) now live within ¼ mile of a bus route running every 15 minutes or better, seven days per week, compared to the 42,000 residents (27%) before the network debut. The new network also provides access to frequent, all-day bus service for 78% of low-income residents, 81% of minority residents and 69% of seniors in the Alexandria community. By comparison, the previous network only reached 29% of low-income residents, 22% of minorities and 24% of seniors.
“We are excited to celebrate this milestone, not just for DASH, but our riders and the City of Alexandria as well. There’s no limit to where you can go with frequent, useful and free DASH service, and we hope that DASH will continue to be a viable option for more and more people who live, work and visit Alexandria,” said Josh Baker, DASH CEO and General Manager.
With the introduction of the new network and free fares on all DASH buses, the agency and the City of Alexandria opened a new chapter in public transportation with more useful bus service in places where more people could use it. The implementation of the new network constituted the most substantial single-day service change in the agency’s nearly 40-year history. DASH also transitioned to 24/7 operations with added evening and weekend service.
To ensure it continues to meet Alexandria’s transit needs amid changing ridership and travel patterns, the agency is conducting a new ridership survey through Friday, September 9, 2022. The survey is available in both English and Spanish. For more information, visit dashbus.com/RideDASH22.