Arlington Transit (ART) Low and Reduced Fare Pilot Programs

Arlington County conducted two ART Low and Reduced Fare Program pilots to assist low-income residents, and students who would benefit most from transportation assistance. Beginning February 2022, the pilot programs aimed to provide data points for further study of the needs and feasibility of future low- or no-fare assistance programs.  

These programs were supported by the American Rescue Plan Act funds to aid individuals who have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. More information is available on the ART Bus page

Low-Income Fare Assistance Pilot

Arlington County’s Department of Human Services identified 7,200 low-income Arlington residents enrolled in SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) prior to March 11, 2022 to be eligible for a no-fare experimental program.

Eligible participants received an invitation to collect SmarTrip cards preloaded with $150 (the approximate value of 75 trips). This program aimed to provide more data on residents who are in most need or have greatest interest in a no-fare plan. 

For more information and distribution dates and locations, visit Arlington Transit's program page.



APS Student Fare-Less Pilot

Arlington Public Schools (APS) assisted the Department of Environmental Services (DES) in identifying 2,400 students. These middle and high school students live in an area not served by APS yellow school buses, attend Immersion or Montessori schools outside of their home school zone, or at the further edges of a walk-zone.  

Students participating in the pilot program will receive a pre-registered iRide SmarTrip card which will automatically reload with $10 a week during the school year, through June 2023. (This subsidy does not include summer break and spring break.) These cards will give them free access to ART Bus to help them get to school. 

The first 800 cards will be distributed in six APS schools, and more cards will be distributed as registration needs indicate. 

This pilot will study ridership behavior and patterns of students to determine the unique needs of young passengers

As of fall 2022, all trips on ART bus are free to students with an iRide SmarTrip card. More information is available on the ART website.




Next Steps

DES staff will be evaluating participation and ridership throughout the study period to inform program promotion and registration needs. 

As of fall 2022, all ART bus trips are free to students with an iRide Card. Learn more on the ART bus website.


Where Can Participants Use their SmarTrip Cards?

Participants of the No and Reduced Fare ART Bus Pilot Programs may also use their SmarTrip cards on Metrorail and Metro bus. The iRide SmarTrip Card student half-off discount only applies to ART Bus.

Can Participants Connect SmarTrip Cards to Mobile Wallets?

Yes, participants in the Low-Income Fare Assistance Pilot can load their SmarTrip cards on Apple Pay or Google Pay. 
iRide SmarTrip cards cannot be loaded on smart devices for mobile pay.

How Can Participants Find Out More?

Arlington Public Schools and Arlington County Department of Human Services will be in contact with the students and individuals identified for the pilots. For more information visit the ART Bus website


About ART Bus

Arlington Transit (ART) operates within Arlington County to provide cross-County routes as well as neighborhood connections to Metrorail and Virginia Railway Express. Go to the ART website to find maps, schedules, and plan a trip.