To limit congestion and to speed up circulation in their respective downtown districts, both Seattle and Portland have established Ride Free zones (Portland calls it the ‘Fareless Square’). Any ride completely within these zones is free during the day.
In fact, if one boards a bus in the downtown Seattle, the fare box directs riders to pay as they leave and only if they disembark outside the free zone.
This might be a wise idea to import for the College Park section of the Purple Line. By allowing anyone to ride free anywhere between the west side of campus and the College Park Metro station (inclusive), it’s possible to reduce the burden on Shuttle UM and speed-up the ride commuters must endure between campus and the Metro (the current bus ride from the Union to the Green Line can take as long as 20 minutes in rush hour!). Each train can carry many more passengers than a single bus.
Though it’s doubtful that perenially cash-strapped WMATA, the organization that runs Metro, would be amenable to giving free rides, the university could help pay for the service with money it saves from Shuttle UM.