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OFF-BOARD FARE PAYMENT USING PROOF-OF-PAYMENT VERIFICATION SUMMARY In the transit industry, if the subject of off-board fare payment and proof-of-payment (PoP) verification comes up, what follows normally are inquiries related to fare evasion. These inquiries typically start with an interest in learning how much evasion occurs and wonder- ing out loud about the honesty of most people. However, the subject is significantly more complex than evasion rates. It involves related subjects such as inspection rates, enforcement techniques, duties of fare inspection person- nel, adjudication processes, and the sort of penalties involved for evasion. Plus, there is a need for acquiring capital equipment, mainly ticket vending machines (TVMs) and, per- haps, handheld verification devices if the operator uses smart cards as part of its fare media. Use of off-board PoP fare collection allows convenient, quick, all-door passenger board- ing for transit systems. Generally, there are no conductors on board the transit vehicle, it is typically not possible to purchase a fare on board, and there are no barriers or gates to restrict entry onto a station platform. Transit customers typically purchase fare media at TVMs on the station platform, online, or at retail outlets, and carry their valid ticket or pass while riding. To enforce fare payment, inspection personnel check riders throughout the system, request that they show their proof of fare payment, and issue citations imposing a fine to riders without a valid ticket or pass. North American experience with PoP fare collection began with the SeaBus passenger ferry service in Vancouver, British Columbia, and then, in 19801981, with the light rail transit (LRT) systems in Edmonton and Calgary, Alberta, and San Diego, California. Most early applications of PoP that followed were limited to LRT systems. However, gradually, PoP fare collection has evolved to being used on bus rapid transit (BRT) and regular bus services, heavy rail transit, streetcars, passenger ferries, and commuter rail. Research on the subject of PoP fare collection was somewhat limited until 2002, when another TCRP report was published: TCRP Report 80: A Toolkit for Self-Service, Barrier- Free Fare Collection. The report provided a thorough summary of experiences related to application of PoP fare collection on transit systems in North America and internationally as well. TCRP Report 80 continues to be a worthwhile reference for any transit operator using PoP fare collection, and especially, for any operator considering use of PoP. Although some of the data in the report are out-of-date, its guidelines remain useful resource material. The basis for this study's scope of effort is to assess the North American state of practice concerning the sort of inquiries that were noted at the outset above and an update on the experiences reported in TCRP Report 80. This synthesis reports on the state of practice of PoP fare collection, including a literature review, a survey of transit agencies with PoP experience, and interviews with seven transit agencies. The focus of available research literature was implementation of PoP fare collection, BRT applications, and fare evasion. A summary of the findings follows:

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2 Enforcement practices are an essential part of the PoP fare collection function and, as such, operators must address the role of discretion in issuing citations for fare evasion. Conversion of a traditional pay-on-boarding fare collection system to PoP fare collec- tion faces different issues than starting PoP on a new service. For cases involving a conversion, an incremental approach toward PoP implementation is a practical alterna- tive to doing it in a single shot. The regular presence of uniformed officers on transit vehicles is likely to be seen by riders as the best way to provide them with a safe feeling while riding. PoP fare collection has been found to have application for BRT services, but whether it will prove to be cost-effective will largely depend on the loading volumes at the BRT stops/stations and the need for boarding at the rear doors to ensure a relatively high bus operating speed. The management of the fare inspection function and control of fare evasion will sig- nificantly benefit from collection of fare evasion data to permit disaggregate analysis (i.e., by time of day, day of week, and location). A wealth of material was found to be available from transit operators that use PoP fare collection, such as policies and ordinances, performance reports, standard operating procedures, manuals, audits, and special reports. These materials are generally avail- able to other operators and provide a source of research not often available in the public forum. As a product of this study, a reference and resource base has been established within the TRB Committee on Light Rail Transit (Standing Committee AP075) web- site at Fare evasion and fare abuses make for popular headlines in the local news media. It is important for PoP operators to be proactive and have a program and strategy for deal- ing with the media on fare abuse issues, including preparation of a regular manage- ment report that presents the data and trends related to fare evasion and a summary of enforcement efforts. The second major task of this study was to conduct an online survey. The survey was transmitted to 33 transit agencies, 27 in the United States and six in Canada. A 100% return resulted. Of these operators, 30 (90.9%) employed PoP fare collection for one or more their services in 20102011. Further, 29 of the 30 were either not considering any changes to PoP use (17 of them) or were in the process of implementing PoP on more services (12). Of the three operators not using PoP, two were considering using PoP for future services. A summary of the significant results from survey responses is provided here: A majority of PoP fare enforcement personnel are directly employed by the public transit agency (60%) and have police powers (58%). Almost all operators allow inspectors to issue warnings when warranted (96.5%), and the average number of citations issued were 3.5 more than the numbers of warnings. Thirty-nine percent of the operators issue more warnings than citations. The majority of agencies indicated that they were satisfied with the accuracy of their measured fare evasion rate--86.2% were either satisfied or better. Almost two-thirds (62.1%) of the operators do not set fare evasion goals, and 72.4% do not set inspection goals. The predominant actions taken by operators to curb fare eva- sion spikes are special "sweep" tactics during which 100% of the riders are inspected during a specific period of time and at a specific location. Across all modes, the range of fare evasion rates observed was from 0.1% to 9.0%, with an average of 2.7% and a median of 2.2%. For inspection, the rates ranged from 0.4% to 30.0%, with an average of 11.3% and a median of 9.2%. There can be substantial fluctuation in the fare evasion rates for an operator. Examination of variance in fare evasion rates over a 12- to 14-month period for five operators found that the highest monthly rate was as much as 5 times as large as the lowest.

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3 The fine for a first fare evasion offense averaged $121; for repeat offenses, the maxi- mum averaged $314. For repeat offenders, there are also nonfinancial penalties, the three main ones being that the penalty escalates to a misdemeanor, a summons is issued to appear in court, or the individual is excluded from using the system for a period of time. Most operators (58.6%) treat the first fare evasion as a civil offense as opposed to a criminal offense. To facilitate enforcement of fare payment, 70% of the operators designate the station platform areas as "paid zones." Almost all of the operators' TVMs issue single-ride tickets (96.6%), and the majority issue day passes (69%) and monthly passes (55.2%) as well. Smart cards are used by 13 of the 30 operators in either contactless (11 operators) or magnetic-stripe (2 operators) versions. Of those with smart cards, 10 operators have cards that are reloadable (i.e., can be reloaded with additional value). For smart card fare payment verification purposes, 11 operators rely on handheld verification devices. A small majority (56.3%) of the respondents expressed being moderately or very satisfied with the cost-effectiveness of their PoP fare collection operation. The third study task involved a detailed review of the PoP fare collection experiences of seven case study operators: Buffalo, New York--Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority Dallas, Texas--Dallas Area Rapid Transit Los Angeles, California--Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority MinneapolisSt. Paul, Minnesota--Metro Transit New York City, New York--New York City Transit Phoenix, Arizona--Valley Metro Rail, Inc. San Francisco, California--San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Interviews with each of the seven resulted in identifying a set of common experiences. These experiences form a group of practices for other operators to consider, whether they use PoP fare collection today or are considering its future use: Using a customer-oriented enforcement to fare payment rather than a traditional policing approach, Implementing an agency-administered adjudication process, Instituting an administrative process for payment of the fare evasion penalty, Creating a focused fare inspection team with nonsworn officers, Adding smart cards to the menu of fare media available for fare payment, Employing PoP fare collection on BRT services, Using independent management audits as an aid in reviewing an agency's PoP experience, Expanding the provision of public information via the Internet and the YouTube online video, Deploying a "show of force" on a new service using PoP fare collection, Using sweeps (also referred to as blitzes, surges, or enhanced fare enforcement) to demonstrate uniformed presence on the system in a serious way, and Using temporary barriers and turnstiles for crowd control at special events.

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The case study interviews along with survey responses and the literature review produced questions for which no answers were found in available research. As a result, six areas deserv- ing of additional research were identified: The range of loading volumes that would result in PoP fare collection being a cost- effective alternative; The relationship among the evasion rate, rates of inspection, and penalty amounts; A manual or guidelines for statistical analysis of fare evasion; A transit smart card forum for PoP operators; The cost-effectiveness of alternative adjudication processes; The costs--capital, operating, and maintenance--of alternative off-board PoP fare collection and enforcement approaches.