Why are People in Ulster County Riding the Bus More Than Ever?
Bus rides in Ulster County are up 40% since this time last year and there's a good reason why.
Last year Ulster County made headlines after they announced that Ulster County Area Transit (UCAT) was going to begin offering FREE bus rides for everyone. The Ulster County Legislator voted to approve the fareless bus rides in August of 2022 and a little over a year later the county has seen a huge rise in folks taking the bus.
Free Bus Rides in Ulster County are Working
The free bus rides started on October 1, 2022, after the Democrat-controlled Legislator voted 16-7 to approve the free bus rides according to the Daily Freeman. One year later, more people are riding the bus in Ulster County than ever with UCAT saying that from October 1st, 2022 through October 1st, 2023 ridership skyrocketed to 384,307 riders. During the same time frame from 2021 through 2022, 277,211 riders rode UCAT buses leading to an increase of 107,096 riders.
The almost 40% jump is a welcomed one for Ulster County Executive Jen Metzger who told the Freeman,
"Since the introduction of fareless service on our UCAT buses, we continue to see our ridership rates grow, which is a strong testament to the need for this affordable service in our communities."
Are the Bus Rides in Ulster County Free?
Yes, riders ride for free but when the county decided to offer free rides they did need to figure out how to make up the revenue that UCAT made each year. UCAT brought in $167,272 in 2021 and by eliminating this steadily declining number the county tapped into the county's surplus fund balance to make up the loss in revenue. The surplus fund is funded by Ulster County taxpayers making this effort a county-subsidized one.
After eliminating bus fares the state and federal governments also chipped in to make it work as combined they picked up 75% of UCAT's operations.
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