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DASH to Launch New Bus Network, Go Fare-Free Sept. 5

Zebra file photo

ALEXANDRIA, VA – Great news for Alexandria residents who rely on public transportation! The Alexandria Transit Company, DASH, has announced the launch of its bus service overhaul, the New DASH Network, beginning Sept. 5. The overhaul includes fare-free service.

“We are excited to launch our highly-anticipated New DASH Network, while going fare free at the same time,” said DASH CEO and General Manager Josh Baker. “These changes enable us to provide service that not only meets the current needs of our community with more frequent service, improved access to transit, and an overall improved customer experience, but will also continue to serve the City of Alexandria as mobility needs evolve in the future.”

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The New DASH Network, the first comprehensive redesign of the existing DASH bus service network since its establishment in 1984, will provide more frequent service to more people across Alexandria. The network changes include the implementation of frequent, all-day service on major transit corridors across the city – in Old Town, Arlandria, Potomac Yard, Parkfairfax, the West End and the King Street corridor. These improvements mean buses will run every 15 minutes or less, throughout the day, seven days a week. The service and route changes are designed to meet current and future transit ridership demand and encourage more people to use transit. Nearly 60,000 additional Alexandria residents will gain access to high-frequency service The number of low-income residents with access to frequent transit is expected to improve from 29 to over 72 percent.

The network launch is the first phase of the larger Alexandria Transit Vision Plan, which seeks to create an even more inclusive, accessible, and useful transit system by 2030. The network is the result of a two-year partnership between the City of Alexandria and DASH to engage with the community, plan, design, and implement the new network.

The change in fare policy was made possible when City Council granted DASH a $1.5 million subsidy increase in its Fiscal Year 2022 budget. It is estimated that making transit free for everyone could expand ridership by an estimated 23 percent. With no fare required, the city is aiming to: bring riders back to transit following the COVID-19 pandemic, help achieve the their environmental goals, and benefit Alexandria’s lower-income residents. Because ridership has been depressed due to the pandemic, the initial cost to implement this change is dramatically reduced.

“Public transit is a vital part of any community, and DASH’s new network with more frequent service in more parts of the City will improve upon the safe and reliable service that so many residents depend on,” said Mayor Justin Wilson.

In preparation for free fares, DASH will discontinue sales of DASH Passes on all platforms, including the DASH Bus app, no later than Friday, Aug. 13. All 31-Day Flex Passes or 4-Hour Passes purchased on the DASH Bus App will expire on Sept. 4, 2021. DASH will not refund unused or partially used passes and passengers should plan to use them by that day..

Note that DASH customers who are enrolled in the WMATA SmartBenefits program should make sure to adjust their SmartBenefit allocations prior to their employer’s monthly deadline.

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