UPDATED: Council Passes FY2023 Operating Budget, Includes Ride On Fare Increase

Updated to include comments from Councilmember Evan Glass

The County Council yesterday passed the FY2023 operating budget that includes a provision to raise the fee for most Ride On buses to $1, effective in July.

Ride On has been free through most of the pandemic and the council most recently extended it through July 2. The $1 fee originally was proposed by County Executive Marc Elrich in September of last year, following the release of a Ride On Fare Equity Study. Council declined to approve it at that time.

The action is part of the approved $6.3 billion operating budget, a 6.2% increase over FY2022, with no tax increases.

Councilmember Evan Glass (D-At Large), who has been a vocal proponent of free Ride On for all, told the Source, “$1 is better than $2, and it will provide relief to those who are dependent on our buses. We are making progress and we’re going down the right path towards true transit equity.

“I remain a strong supporter of fare-free buses,” he continued. “When I made buses free for all students, youth ridership increased 57%. This is the path we need to continue pursuing if we want to reduce traffic, increase opportunities for all residents and protect our environment.

“Even a $6.3 billion budget doesn’t have the resources for every program, and a majority of the council had other priorities,” Glass added. “But I will continue pushing for fare-free service to better serve our residents and community.”

“This is a rock-solid budget and, for the first time in over a decade, we were able to fully fund our most pressing priorities,” Elrich said in a press release that also thanked the council.

“All of us are focused on improving education, expanding affordable housing opportunities, enhancing public safety, combatting climate change and committed to equity,” Elrich said. “This FY23 budget will also grow our reserves, helps preserve our AAA bond rating and provides improved compensation for our employees.”

The new operating budget will go into effect in July.

County Council graphic via Twitter

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