Knoxville Area Transit ending free services, temporarily reducing fares beginning in February

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — City bus riders will see a temporary reduction in fares beginning in February as the transit system shifts away from its free service that began amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Knoxville Area Transit said its fare-free service during the pandemic has created multiple challenges. More people are riding with limited seating available leading to left behind riders and reduced service.

“It’s been the perfect storm,” Thorne said.  “But, we are hopeful that this new fare structure, along with promising news of the vaccine will begin to bring KAT back to a more normal operating system.” 

KAT said Monday it is lowering fares to provide COVID-19 relief and streamline passenger boardings.

The base fare will change from the previous fare of $1.50 down to $1.  Seniors, passengers with disabilities, and students K-12 (SDS) will have a base fare of $0.50 (previously $0.75). 

Seven-day passes and transfer passes are being eliminated.  

Fare Type NEW TEMPORARY FARE Previous fare 
One Ride/Base Fare $1 (Regular)/ $0.50 (SDS) $1.50 (Regular) /$0.75 (students) 
Day Pass $2 (Regular) / $1.00 (SDS) $4 (Regular) / $2 (SDS) 
30-Day Pass $30 (Regular) / $15.00 (SDS) $50 (Regular) / $25 (SDS) 
20-Ride Pass $15 (Regular) / $7.50 (SDS) $25 (Regular) / $12.50 (SDS) 
Semester Pass $130$130 
Lift Paratransit Ride $2$3

“This new fare structure will help provide relief to working families as they recover from the economic challenges of the pandemic,” Isaac Thorne, director of transit for the city, said.  “We have been very fortunate to have the support of the city of Knoxville along with federal COVID relief funding which allowed for us to operate fare-free, improving safety and reducing close interactions on our buses.  

“With the new streamlined temporary fare structure, we hope to continue operating safely while re-implementing our fare system.” 

KAT hopes to keep the new temporary fare structure in place for at least six months. 

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