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Shreveport transit bests pre-pandemic ridership by waiving fares

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(The Center Square) — As transit agencies overall are struggling to reach pre-pandemic levels of passengers, the city of Shreveport’s transit agency has found a way to attract more riders since 2019.

The city waived the charges to ride SporTran buses in 2022 and that has triggered a large increase in ridership. The transit agency collected $1.82 million in fare revenues in 2019.

SporTran had 2.54 million riders in 2019. That plummeted to 1.25 million in the first year of the pandemic and dropped to 1.21 million in 2021.

In 2022, the city implemented the Zero Fare program. Ridership jumped to 2.43 million that year and then increased to 3.24 million in 2023. The 2023 ridership is a 27% increase over the 2019 pandemic ridership.

The city is looking to make the Zero Fare program permanent and stated it wanted to use federal funds from the American Rescue Plan to pay for the lost revenue through 2025.

The city of Shreveport budgeted $22.3 million for SporTran in 2023-24.

SporTran didn’t respond to an email seeking comment.