RD557 - Transit Ridership Incentive Program Fiscal Year 2023 Overview
The 2020 General Assembly established TRIP with two distinct goals: to improve regional connectivity of urban areas with a population more than 100,000 and to reduce barriers to transit use for low-income riders by supporting reduced-fare and zero-fare programming.
TRIP’s creation coincided with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. DRPT conducted outreach about the program with transit agencies, who shared a stronger interest in zero-fare and reduced-fare programming. During the pandemic, fewer people used transit, so transit agencies did not prioritize launching regional connectivity projects until they grew their ridership.
Virginia Code § 33.2-1526.3 originally stated that no more than 25 percent of TRIP funding could be allocated to programs to reduce barriers to transit use for low-income riders, requiring a minimum of 75 percent of the funds be allocated to regional connectivity projects.
In 2022, the General Assembly changed the funding structure so that at least 25 percent of funds are allocated to zero-fare or reduced-fare projects, and at least 25 percent of funds are allocated to regional connectivity projects. The remaining 50 percent could go toward either purpose. This change to the funding distribution will sunset on July 1, 2024.
The 2023 General Assembly approved additional changes to the TRIP funding distribution. According to House Bill 2338 and Senate Bill 1326, a maximum of 30 percent of TRIP funds can be used to support transit agencies with improving passenger amenities and facilities such as bus stops and addressing crime prevention and public safety. These two types of programs address target areas of concern raised by transit riders during the HJ 542 transit modernization study DRPT conducted in 2021 and 2022 at the General Assembly’s request. This change to the funding distribution has no sunset.
In summary, starting in FY25, no more than 25 percent can be used for zero-fare and reduced-fare programs, no more than 30 percent can be used for crime prevention and passenger amenities, and at least 45 percent must be used for regional connectivity programs. DRPT developed a revised policy to incorporate the changes from the General Assembly and how to score and allocate funding to the different projects. The Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) approved the policy in September 2023.