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Tulsa Transit Approved to Offer Free Fares Throughout 2020 if Needed


Tulsa Transit has the green light from Tulsa’s city council to continue offering free fixed-route bus and Lift service rides throughout 2020.

Tulsa Transit implemented the policy last month to limit drivers' contact with the public during the COVID-19 pandemic. The transit board will evaluate the policy monthly but will not need council approval for each extension.

Board members had hoped free bus rides would not lead to a sudden increase in ridership at a time people should be staying home as much as possible.

"So far, I’m happy to report ridership has not spiked on our system despite  the fare-free rides. So, that seems to be working pretty well," said Tulsa Transit General Manager Ted Rieck.

Rieck said drivers are essential workers and are putting themselves at risk.

"So, we’ve done things like bought them gift cards to grocery stores and buying them lunch. and we’re going to be talking to the board about doing a ‘hero bonus,’ a one-time payment to our front-line people," Rieck said.

Not charging fares will cost Tulsa Transit around $45,000 a month. The Aero bus rapid transit system is not free to ride.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.
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