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DC Free Bus Act becomes law as zero-fare transit systems take off

Washington DC’s zero-fare bus bill has been signed into law, according to the DC Council.

Mayor Muriel Bowser declined to officially pass the bill, which eliminates the $2 fare for all DC buses, adds a dozen new 24-hour bus lines starting in July and requires a $10 investment million in other service improvements to bus lines.

But the council enacted the proposal without the mayor’s signature, making DC the largest city in the United States to codify a fare-free transit system as the movement takes off nationwide. Kansas City, Missouri, previously the largest city with such a law, created its own zero-fare transit system in 2019, although that city does not have a rail system.

In December, the DC Council unanimously approved the bill but was awaiting a response from the mayor’s office before it could officially become law, said Councilman Charles Allen, who initially proposed the bill. of Metro for DC legislation in 2021.

Earlier this month, DC’s chief financial officer approved funding for the fare-free bus service, earning $11 million for fiscal 2023, $43 million for fiscal 2024, and more for fiscal 2024. each subsequent tax year.

The council was notified of the mayor’s decision not to sign the legislation last week, according to Allen, and it was enacted without his signature Thursday. The council officially announced the mayor’s decision on Monday.

Now there is discussion about adding an amendment that would subsidize train rides for DC residents, but the current version of the bill will go into effect in the meantime, Allen said.

“We’re going full steam ahead now,” he said, adding that the mayor’s resistance to signing the bill is largely symbolic.

“There’s no practical difference,” Allen said. “Maybe you might think it reflects a different level of enthusiasm.”

Bowser had previously disputed that Maryland and Virginia were not helping fund the bill despite the benefit to their residents, NBC Washington reported. The mayor’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

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