Fare evasion impacts transit agency revenue, ridership, perceptions of fairness from paying passengers, and perceptions of safety. Accurate fare evasion measurement can improve ridership data, inform policy decisions, and prioritize resources for fare enforcement.
Fare evasion involves traveling on public transit without deliberately purchasing or possessing the fare media required to travel. It is a criminal offense in many jurisdictions, although some are now examining decriminalization of the offense. In some jurisdictions, equity concerns have been raised.
Fare evasion has been examined in the media with questions about how the fare evasion rate is calculated and how fare evasion can be deterred. Fare evasion has also received the scrutiny of the Federal Transit Administration and could affect the counting of non-farebox passengers in National Transit Database ridership figures.
Research is needed to understand the various aspects of fare evasion. This research will inform the actions of transit agencies to better measure and manage fare evasion and its implications.
The objective of this research is to prepare a report on the state of fare evasion and agency initiatives on fare evasion measurement, deterrence, and enforcement. The report will include definitions of fare evasion used by transit agencies across the United States; describe the methods transit agencies use to calculate fare evasion rates; describe how transit properties deter and enforce fare evasion; and include the penalties for fare evasion. The final deliverables should assist transit agencies to better understand and communicate the methods used to calculate fare evasion and its costs, the implications of fare evasion, and the effectiveness and impact of fare evasion policies.
Accomplishment of the project objective will require at least the following tasks.
Task descriptions are intended to provide a framework for conducting the research. The TCRP is seeking the insights of proposers on how best to achieve the research objective. Proposers are expected to describe research plans that can realistically be accomplished within the constraints of available funds and contract time. Proposals must present the proposers' current thinking in sufficient detail to demonstrate their understanding of the issues and the soundness of their approach to meeting the research objective.
Task 1. Identify and review relevant practices, data, and findings related to fare evasion in the United States, focusing on how transit bus, light rail, and heavy rail agencies measure and manage fare evasion. (Commuter rail is not in this scope.) Include a categorization of different legal and administrative definitions of fare evasion and types of fare evasion and fraud.
Prepare a working paper on the Task 1 results.
Task 2. Prepare a plan to survey and/or interview transit bus, light rail, and heavy rail agencies. Include multi-modal as well as bus-only transit systems. Include a draft instrument and transit agency data collection plan, including strategies for addressing the sensitivity of the topic.
Task 3. Do not conduct the Task 4 interviews/surveys until TCRP has approved. Other work may continue during the review process. A meeting with the panel by conference call will be required.
Task 4. Conduct interviews/surveys based on the panel-approved plan and list of agencies.
Task 5. Use the results of the interviews/surveys to catalogue the methods used to estimate and actual estimations of fare evasion rates and fare revenue losses; the initiatives undertaken by transit agencies to identify and address the causes of fare evasion; and approaches to fare evasion deterrence and enforcement, as well as the results of those approaches. Include hiring and training approaches for front-line personnel.
Task 6. Provide a stand-alone technical memorandum titled “Implementation of Research Findings and Products.” See Special Note D for additional information.
Task 7. Submit a final report, documenting the entire research effort and including (1) an executive summary and (2) a structured guide for use by public transportation agency senior staff and policy-makers, law enforcement and security service providers, and revenue and data teams to assess the advantages and disadvantages of various approaches used in measuring and managing fare evasion. Focus on (a) data quality and resources to collect accurate data, (b) the policy decisions around efficiency and equity of fare enforcement strategies, and (c) costs and benefits of fare enforcement.
Note: Allow 3 months for TCRP review and for contractor revision of the final report.
A. Proposals are evaluated by the NCHRP staff and project panels consisting of individuals collectively very knowledgeable in the problem area. Selection of an agency is made by the project panel considering the following factors: (1) the proposer's demonstrated understanding of the problem; (2) the merit of the proposed research approach and experiment design; (3) the experience, qualifications, and objectivity of the research team in the same or closely related problem area; (4) the plan for ensuring application of results; (5) diversity and inclusion of the proposer's approach, including participation by Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (small firms owned and controlled by minorities or women); and (6) the adequacy of the facilities.
Note: The proposer's approach to diversity and inclusion as well as participation by Disadvantaged Business Enterprises should be incorporated in Item 12 of the proposal.
B. Proposals should include a task-by-task breakdown of labor hours for each staff member as shown in Figure 4 in the brochure, "Information and Instructions for Preparing Proposals" (http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/crp/docs/ProposalPrep.pdf). Proposals also should include a breakdown of all costs (e.g., wages, indirect costs, travel, materials, and total) for each task using Figures 5 and 6 in the brochure. Please note that TRB Cooperative Research Program subawards (selected proposers are considered subawards to the National Academy of Sciences, the parent organization of TRB) must comply with 2 CFR 200 – Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards. These requirements include a provision that proposers without a “federally” Negotiated Indirect Costs Rate Agreement (NICRA) shall be subject to a maximum allowable indirect rate of 10% of Modified Total Direct Costs. Modified Total Direct Costs include all salaries and wages, applicable fringe benefits, materials and supplies, services, travel, and up to the first $25,000 of each lower-tier subaward and subcontract. Modified Total Direct Costs exclude equipment, capital expenditures, charges for patient care, rental costs, tuition remission, scholarships and fellowships, participant support costs and the portion of each lower-tier subaward and subcontract in excess of $25,000.
C. Item 4(c), "Anticipated Research Results," in each proposal must include an Implementation Plan that describes activities to promote application of the product of this research. It is expected that the implementation plan will evolve during the project; however, proposals must describe, as a minimum, the following: (a) the "product" expected from the research, (b) the audience or "market" for this product, (c) a realistic assessment of impediments to successful implementation, (d) the institutions and individuals who might take leadership in applying the research product, (e) the activities necessary for successful implementation, and (f) the criteria for judging the progress and consequences of implementation.
D. The required technical memorandum titled “Implementation of Research Findings and Products” should (a) provide recommendations on how to best put the research findings/products into practice; (b) identify possible institutions that might take leadership in applying the research findings/products; (c) identify issues affecting potential implementation of the findings/products and recommend possible actions to address these issues; and (d) recommend methods of identifying and measuring the impacts associated with implementation of the findings/products. Implementation of these recommendations is not part of the research project and, if warranted, details of these actions will be developed and implemented in future efforts.
E. Item 5 in the proposal, "Qualifications of the Research Team," must include a section labeled "Disclosure." Information relevant to the TCRP's need to ensure objectivity and to be aware of possible sources of significant financial or organizational conflict of interest in conducting the research must be presented in this section of the proposal. For example, under certain conditions, ownership of the proposing agency, other organizational relationships, or proprietary rights and interests could be perceived as jeopardizing an objective approach to the research effort, and proposers are asked to disclose any such circumstances and to explain how they will be accounted for in this study. If there are no issues related to objectivity, this should be stated.
F. Copyrights - All data, written materials, computer software, graphic and photographic images, and other information prepared under the contract and the copyrights therein shall be owned by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The contractor and subcontractors will be able to publish this material for non-commercial purposes, for internal use, or to further academic research or studies with permission from TRB Cooperative Research Programs. The contractor and subcontractors will not be allowed to sell the project material without prior approval by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. By signing a contract with the National Academy of Sciences, contractors accept legal responsibility for any copyright infringement that may exist in work done for TRB. Contractors are therefore responsible for obtaining all necessary permissions for use of copyrighted material in TRB's Cooperative Research Programs publications. For guidance on TRB's policies on using copyrighted material please consult Section 5.4, "Use of Copyrighted Material," in the Procedural Manual for Contractors.
G. Useful resources for this project include:
- TCRP Synthesis 96: Off-Board Fare Payment Using Proof-of-Payment Verification http://www.trb.org/Publications/Blurbs/166757.aspx
New York, New York
- “Fare Evasion at NYCT.” MTA New York City Transit / Bus Committee, March 2019
Seattle/King County, Washington
- Deblieck et al. “RapidRide Fare Enforcement: Efforts Needed to Ensure Efficiency and Address Equity Issues,” King County Auditor’s Office, 4 April 2018
- Roberta Altstadt. “Independent analysis once again finds no systemic racial bias in TriMet fare enforcement,” TriMet News, 8 August 2018
- Brian C. Renauer, Ph.D., Criminal Justice Policy Research Institute. “Analysis of Racial/Ethnic Disparity in TriMet Fare Enforcement Outcomes on the MAX 2016-2018.” 6 August 2018 http://news.trimet.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/PSU-Analysis-of-Racial-Ethnic-Disparity-in-TriMet-Fare-Enforcement-on-MAX-2016-2018.pdf
Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota
- “Analysis of Police Incidents by Race.” Metro Transit, Research and Analytics, 17 December 2015 https://www.metrotransit.org/Data/Sites/1/media/blog/police_report-12-17-15.pdf
- “Light Rail Fare Evasion: Program Evaluation and Audit.” Metropolitan Council, 26 October 2016 https://metrocouncil.org/Council-Meetings/Committees/Audit-Committee/2016/October-26,-2016/2016-A18.aspx