The National Academies

TCRP J-11/Task 39 [Active]

Evaluation Framework for Fare-free Public Transportation

  Project Data
Funds: $100,000
Staff Responsibility: Dianne S. Schwager
Research Agency: Nelson/Nygaard
Principal Investigator: Cristina Barone
Effective Date: 12/3/2020
Completion Date: 6/2/2022

Communities around the world, including in the United States, are exploring the merits of providing public transportation without charging fares and identifying strategies for replacing passenger fare revenues. The economic, social, and environmental costs and benefits of fare-free public transportation are being weighed against the costs and benefits of current fare payment systems and the available capacity for increased ridership.    
Eight years ago, TCRP conducted a state of the practice review that produced TCRP Synthesis 101: Implementation and Outcomes of Fare-Free Transit Systems.  More recently, consideration has emerged for the potential elimination of fare payments, in whole or in part, to engender broader societal benefits. Free Public Transit: And Why We Don’t Pay to Ride Elevators (2018) makes the case that addressing increasing societal inequalities and ecological crises should lead communities to rethink the status quo vis-a-vis public transit fares.
The objective of this research is to develop a framework to evaluate fare-free public transportation. The framework should address the benefits and costs and the trade-offs that must be considered by public transportation providers, policy-makers, and other stakeholders as they consider eliminating fares, in whole or in-part, for public transportation. 

The research will be completed summer 2022.

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