Americans are spending more time — and money — commuting than ever before.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average American spends 25.9 minutes a day traveling to work one way — that adds up to just over four hours every week spent in transit for work. They’re spending around 15.9% of their typical budgets on transportation costs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and married couples with children spend closer to 17.1%. And as more Americans migrate to larger cities, public transportation use is up. Since 1997, public transportation ridership has increased by 21%.
These are just some of the reasons why advocates across the country are starting to call for free public transportation.
The New York Times estimates that 100 cities around the world offer free public transit, with many of them in Europe. But recently, cities across the United States have begun to consider it as well.
Here’s how a few U.S. cities have rolled out fare-free programs, and why the free transportation movement is picking up speed:
Pilot program adds 60,000 riders in one month
Olympia, Wash., embraced free bus service this year, which previously cost $1.25 for a typical adult ride and $3 for an express bus from Lakewood to Tacoma.
The “Zero-Fare Demonstration Project,” which involved two-and-a-half years of strategic planning, went into effect on Jan. 1 this year and will last for the next five, at which point the city will re-evaluate the project’s impact.
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