The preliminary results of the study, which began in January 2019, will be presented to the board and the public at the board’s finance and audit committee meeting Jan. 15 at 1:30 p.m., Jackson said. At that time, the committee will determine the next steps, such as collecting additional data.
The results will show several free-fare scenarios and their implications to help the board come to a decision, Jackson said. Some scenarios that may be considered could include Park and Ride services and METRORail or local buses.
Jackson said the board is in the early planning stages and was unable to provide a timeline of future board actions related to making a policy change.
METRO began examining removing fares after several community members suggested the entity look into the policy, Jackson said.
A local bus or METRORail fare is $1.25 per ride, according to the entity’s website. METRO also offers free and discounted rides to children, students, seniors, Medicare cardholders and disabled individuals.
METRO estimates during fiscal year 2019-20 transportation fares will contribute about $61.6 million annually in revenue or about 6% of total operating revenues, not including debt funding, according to METRO's FY 2020 draft business plan and book. Other revenue sources include sales tax, grants, high-occupancy toll lanes and van pools.
By 2024, METRO estimates annual fare revenues will increase about 4.2% to $64.2 million, per the draft plan.