Zero Fare


SMART is Fare Free in July and August

Zero Fare For Better Air, We’ll Get You There is a collaborative, statewide initiative designed to reduce ground-level ozone by increasing the use of transit. Starting July 1, 2024, we are encouraging community residents and visitors to ride transit to help keep Colorado’s air clean during the summer months when air pollution is at its highest. SMART will offer free trips throughout the months of July and August. The effort is made possible by Colorado Senate Bill 24-032, the Ozone Season Transit Grant Program in partnership with the Colorado Energy Office. 

SMART welcomes individuals who may have never used our transit services and customers who are regular transit users to ride often July-August and save money getting where they need to go. “The pilot program that launched August of 2022 was highly successful. Transit systems from all over the state participated, ranging from those serving the largest cities, like RTD in Denver, to regional rural systems like SMART in San Miguel County (Telluride region).” Colorado Association of Transit Agencies (CASTA) Executive Director Ann Rajewski said, “All agencies that participated increased ridership—ranging anywhere between 2% to 59%.”

Three Years Running

The Zero Fare program was equally successful in 2023. Throughout Colorado, 16 communities provided free fares to riders throughout the months of June-August. In addition to providing free fares, the program also provided funding for a marketing campaign promoting the state-wide initiative. Together, these efforts helped generate a 2%-216% ridership increase in participating communities. This year, the program will be active for two months, July-August, and 13 communities throughout Colorado are participating. This three-year campaign is the largest free fare transit initiative in the U.S.

Approximately 85% of the greenhouse gas emissions that come from transportation are due to day-to-day commutes. By leaving the car at home, a person can save up to 20 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions every day depending on the length of the trip. Additional customer benefits of the Zero Fare program are substantial. Riders experience environmental, financial, lifestyle and community benefits of transit that include:

Cost Savings

Taking the bus saves on car expenses including maintenance and parking which add up quickly. Not only do you save money on gas, but you also reduce the wear and tear on your vehicle. According to a recent study by AAA, a new car’s routine maintenance and repairs could cost an average of $0.09 per mile. If you drive 10,000 miles in a year, that totals $900. If you drive 20,000 miles, that figure jumps to $1,800 annually.

Gas Savings 

Riding public transit frees up additional funds in customers’ everyday budgets. In addition, public transportation saves the United States an estimated 4.2 billion gallons of gas annually reducing our dependency on foreign oil.

Reduction in Traffic

Taking public transit keeps cars off the road, limiting traffic congestion, air pollution and groundlevel ozone. Colorado’s population grew 39% over the past 20 years and is expected to grow another 30% in the next 20, significantly increasing traffic around the state. This robust growth makes it essential for commuters to have public transit options to offset the increase in traffic and increased distances to work.

Reduction in Stress and Increased Safety

Taking public transit removes the stress and anxiety of battling everyday traffic. Public transportation is one of the safest ways to travel and it is ten times safer per mile than traveling by car.

Increased Productivity

While taking public transit, customers can catch up on reading, emails, podcasts or just sit back and relax.

Improved Air Quality

Transportation is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions causing climate change. Using public transit creates 84% less carbon emissions than driving a car. That is a savings of 63 million metric tons annually.

SMART is designed to increase mobility options for residents and visitors in the San Miguel region and beyond. With free service throughout July and August, transit riders can experience cost savings, stress reduction, a safer ride and increased productivity, while reducing cars on the road and improving Colorado’s air quality. Zero Fare for Better Air. We’ll Get You There!