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T R A N S I T C O O P E R A T I V E R E S E A R C H P R O G R A M TCRP SYNTHESIS 101 TRANSPORTATION RESEARCH BOARD WASHINGTON, D.C. 2012 www.TRB.org Research Sponsored by the Federal Transit Administration in Cooperation with the Transit Development Corporation SubScriber categorieS Designâ â¢â Financeâ â¢â PublicâTransportationâ â¢â SecurityâandâEmergencies Implementation and Outcomes of Fare-Free Transit Systems A Synthesis of Transit Practice conSultant JOELâVOLINSKI National Center for Transit Research UniversityâofâSouthâFlorida,âTampa
TRANSIT COOPERATIVE RESEARCH PROGRAM The nationâs growth and the need to meet mobility, environÂ mental, and energy objectives place demands on public transit systems. Current systems, some of which are old and in need of upgrading, must expand service area, increase service frequency, and improve efficiency to serve these demands. Research is necÂ essary to solve operating problems, to adapt appropriate new technologies from other industries, and to introduce innovations into the transit industry. The Transit Cooperative Research ProÂ gram (TCRP) serves as one of the principal means by which the transit industry can develop innovative nearÂterm solutions to meet demands placed on it. The need for TCRP was originally identified in TRB Special Report 213âResearch for Public Transit: New Directions, pubÂ lished in 1987 and based on a study sponsored by the Federal Transit Admin istration (FTA). A report by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), Transportation 2000, also recognized the need for local, problemÂsolving research. TCRP, modeled after the longstanding and successful National CooperaÂ tive Highway Research Program, undertakes research and other technical activities in response to the needs of transit service providÂ ers. The scope of TCRP includes a variety of transit research fields including planning, service configuration, equipment, faÂ cilities, operations, human resources, maintenance, policy, and adÂ ministrative practices. TCRP was established under FTA sponsorship in July 1992. Proposed by the U.S. Department of Transportation, TCRP was authorized as part of the Intermodal Surface Transportation EffiÂ ciency Act of 1991 (ISTEA). On May 13, 1992, a memorandum agreement outlining TCRP operating procedures was executed by the three cooperating organizations: FTA, the National Academy of Sciences, acting through the Transportation Research Board (TRB); and the Transit Development Corporation, Inc. (TDC), a nonprofit educational and research organization established by APTA. TDC is responsible for forming the independent governÂ ing board, designated as the TCRP Oversight and Project SelecÂ tion (TOPS) Committee. Research problem statements for TCRP are solicited periodiÂ cally but may be submitted to TRB by anyone at any time. It is the responsibility of the TOPS Committee to formulate the reÂ search program by identifying the highest priority projects. As part of the evaluation, the TOPS Committee defines funding levels and expected products. Once selected, each project is assigned to an expert panel, apÂ pointed by TRB. The panels prepare project statements (requests for proposals), select contractors, and provide technical guidance and counsel throughout the life of the project. The process for developing research problem statements and selecting research agencies has been used by TRB in managing cooperative reÂ search programs since 1962. As in other TRB activ ities, TCRP project panels serve voluntarily without com pensation. Because research cannot have the desired impact if products fail to reach the intended audience, special emphasis is placed on disseminating TCRP results to the intended end users of the reÂ search: transit agencies, service providers, and suppliers. TRB provides a series of research reports, syntheses of transit practice, and other supporting material developed by TCRP research. APTA will arrange for workshops, training aids, field visits, and other activities to ensure that results are implemented by urban and rural transit industry practitioners. The TCRP provides a forum where transit agencies can coopÂ eratively address common operational problems. The TCRP results support and complement other ongoing transit research and trainÂ ing programs. TCRP SYNTHESIS 101 Project JÂ7, Topic SAÂ26 ISSN 1073Â4880 ISBN 978Â0Â309Â22361Â4 Library of Congress Control Number 2012934385 Â© 2012 National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. COPYRIGHT INFORMATION Authors herein are responsible for the authenticity of their materials and for obtaining written permissions from publishers or persons who own the copyright to any previously published or copyrighted material used herein. Cooperative Research Programs (CRP) grants permission to reproduce material in this publication for classroom and notÂforÂprofit purposes. Permission is given with the understanding that none of the material will be used to imply TRB, AASHTO, FAA, FHWA, FMCSA, FTA, or Transit Development Corporation endorsement of a particular product, method, or practice. It is expected that those reproducing the material in this document for educational and notÂforÂprofit uses will give appropriate acknowledgment of the source of any reprinted or reproduced material. For other uses of the material, request permission from CRP. NOTICE The project that is the subject of this report was a part of the Transit CoÂ operative Research Program, conducted by the Transportation Research Board with the approval of the Governing Board of the National Research Council. The members of the technical panel selected to monitor this project and to review this report were chosen for their special competencies and with regard for appropriate balance. The report was reviewed by the technical panel and accepted for publication according to procedures established and overseen by the Transportation Research Board and approved by the GovÂ erning Board of the National Research Council. The opinions and conclusions expressed or implied in this report are those of the researchers who performed the research and are not necessarily those of the Transportation Research Board, the National Research Council, or the program sponsors. The Transportation Research Board of the National Academies, the National Research Council, and the sponsors of the Transit Cooperative Research Program do not endorse products or manufacturers. Trade or manufacturersâ names appear herein solely because they are considered essential to the object of the report. Published reports of the TRANSIT COOPERATIVE RESEARCH PROGRAM are available from: Transportation Research Board Business Office 500 Fifth Street, NW Washington, DC 20001 and can be ordered through the Internet at http://www.nationalÂacademies.org/trb/bookstore Printed in the United States of America
The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished schol- ars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. On the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and techni- cal matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Acad- emy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achieve- ments of engineers. Dr. Charles M. Vest is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, on its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academyâs purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Acad- emy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. Charles M. Vest are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council. The Transportation Research Board is one of six major divisions of the National Research Council. The mission of the Transportation Research Board is to provide leadership in transportation innovation and progress through research and information exchange, conducted within a setting that is objective, interdisci- plinary, and multimodal. The Boardâs varied activities annually engage about 7,000 engineers, scientists, and other transportation researchers and practitioners from the public and private sectors and academia, all of whom contribute their expertise in the public interest. The program is supported by state transportation departments, federal agencies including the component administrations of the U.S. Department of Transporta- tion, and other organizations and individuals interested in the development of transportation. www.TRB.org www.national-academies.org
COOPERATIVE RESEARCH PROGRAMS STAFF CHRISTOPHER W. JENKS, Director, Cooperative Research Programs CRAWFORD F. JENCKS, Deputy Director, Cooperative Research Programs GWEN CHISHOLM SMITH, Senior Program Officer EILEEN P. DELANEY, Director of Publications SYNTHESIS STUDIES STAFF STEPHEN R. GODWIN, Director for Studies and Special Programs JON M. WILLIAMS, Program Director, IDEA and Synthesis Studies JO ALLEN GAUSE, Senior Program Officer GAIL R. STABA, Senior Program Officer DONNA L. VLASAK, Senior Program Officer DON TIPPMAN, Senior Editor CHERYL KEITH, Senior Program Assistant DEMISHA WILLIAMS, Senior Program Assistant DEBBIE IRVIN, Program Associate TOPIC PANEL ALBERT BABINICZ, Clemson Area Transit FABIAN CEVALLOS, Florida International University OLIVIA JONES, Star Trans, Inc. SHAINA MIRON QUINN, Utah Transit Authority JENNIFER A. ROSALES, Transportation Research Board STEPHEN SPADE, Chapel Hill Transit FRANKLIN L. SPIELBERG, Vanesse Hangen Brustlin TOM STRADER, Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon NICHOLE NEAR, Federal Transit AdministrationâRegion V, Chicago (Liaison) JARRETT W. STOLTZFUS, Federal Transit Administration (Liaison) SARI RADIN, USDOTâRITA Volpe National Transportation Systems Center (Liaison) TCRP COMMITTEE FOR PROJECT J-7 CHAIR DWIGHT A. FERRELL Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, Atlanta, GA MEMBERS DEBRA W. ALEXANDER Capital Area Transportation Authority, Lansing, MI DONNA DeMARTINO San Joaquin Regional Transit District, Stockton, CA MARK W. FUHRMANN Metro TransitâMinneapolis/St. Paul, MN ROBERT H. IRWIN Consultant, Sooke, BC, Canada JEANNE KRIEG Eastern Contra Costa Transit Authority, Antioch, CA PAUL J. LARROUSSE National Transit Institute, New Brunswick, NJ DAVID A. LEE Connecticut Transit, Hartford, CT FRANK T. MARTIN Atkins, Tallahassee, FL BRADFORD J. MILLER Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA), St. Petersburg, FL HAYWARD M. SEYMORE, III Kitsap Transit, Bremerton, WA FRANK TOBEY First Transit, Inc., Moscow, TN FTA LIAISON JARRETT W. STOLTZFUS Federal Transit Administration APTA LIAISON KEVIN DOW American Public Transportation Association TRB LIAISON JENNIFER A. ROSALES Transportation Research Board Cover figure: Breckenridge Free Ride, Breckenridge, Colorado. Supplied by Maribeth LewisÂBaker Transit ManagerâFree Ride Transit System.
FOREWORD PREFACE By Donna L. Vlasak Senior Program Officer Transportation Research Board The purpose of the synthesis was to document the past and current experiences of public transit agencies that have planned, implemented, and operated fareÂfree transit systems. The report concentrated on public transit agencies that are either direct recipients or subÂ recipients of federal transit grants and provide fareÂfree service to everyone in their service area on every mode they provide. It will be of interest to transit managers and staffs; small urban and rural areas, university, and resort communities, as well as stakeholders and policy makers at all levels who would be interested in knowing the social benefits and macro impacts of providing affordable mobility through fareÂfree public transit. A review of the relevant literature was conducted for this effort. Reports provide staÂ tistics on changes in levels of ridership associated with fareÂfree service. White papers or agency reports identified by the topic panel or discovered through interviews with fareÂfree transit managers were also reviewed. Through topic panel input, Internet searches, listserv communications, and APTA and TRB sources, the first comprehensive listing of public transit agencies that provide fareÂ free service in the United States was identified. A selected survey of these identified public transit agencies yielded an 82% response rate (32/39). The report offers a look at policy and administrative issues through survey responses. Five case studies, achieved through interviews, represent the three types of communities that were found to be most likely to adopt a fareÂfree policy: rural and small urban, univerÂ sity dominated, and resort communities. These were the Corvallis Transit System, Oregon; Cache Valley Transit District, Utah; Breckenridge Free Transit System, Colorado; Advance Transit, New Hampshire/Vermont; and Link Transit, Washington. Joel Volinski, National Center for Transit Research, University of South Florida, Tampa, collected and synthesized the information and wrote the report, under the guidance of a panel of experts in the subject area. The members of the topic panel are acknowledged on the preceding page. This synthesis is an immediately useful document that records the practices that were acceptable within the limitations of the knowledge available at the time of its preparation. As progress in research and practice continues, new knowledge will be added to that now at hand. Transit administrators, engineers, and researchers often face problems for which inforÂ mation already exists, either in documented form or as undocumented experience and pracÂ tice. This information may be fragmented, scattered, and unevaluated. As a consequence, full knowledge of what has been learned about a problem may not be brought to bear on its solution. Costly research findings may go unused, valuable experience may be overlooked, and due consideration may not be given to recommended practices for solving or alleviatÂ ing the problem. There is information on nearly every subject of concern to the transit industry. Much of it derives from research or from the work of practitioners faced with problems in their dayÂtoÂday work. To provide a systematic means for assembling and evaluating such useful information and to make it available to the entire transit community, the Transit CooperaÂ tive Research Program Oversight and Project Selection (TOPS) Committee authorized the Transportation Research Board to undertake a continuing study. This study, TCRP Project JÂ7, âSynthesis of Information Related to Transit Problems,â searches out and synthesizes useful knowledge from all available sources and prepares concise, documented reports on specific topics. Reports from this endeavor constitute a TCRP report series, Synthesis of Transit Practice. This synthesis series reports on current knowledge and practice, in a compact format, without the detailed directions usually found in handbooks or design manuals. Each report in the series provides a compendium of the best knowledge available on those measures found to be the most successful in resolving specific problems
CONTENTS 1 SUMMARY 5 CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION Project Background and Definition of FareÂFree Transit, 5 Purpose of Report and Intended Audience, 7 Technical Approach, 7 Organization of this Report, 8 9 CHAPTER TWO LITERATURE REVIEW Introduction, 9 CostÂEffectiveness of Eliminating the Fare Collection Process, 9 Effect FareÂFree Public Transit Has on Ridership and System Capacity, 13 Effect FareÂFree Public Transit Has on Service Quality and Customer Satisfaction, 15 18 CHAPTER THREE SURVEY RESULTS: PUBLIC TRANSIT SYSTEMS THAT HAVE IMPLEMENTED FAREÂFREE SERVICE Survey MethodologyâIdentification of FareÂFree Systems, 18 Impetus for Implementing FareÂFree Service, 20 Reasons for FareÂFree Service in Small Urban and Rural Areas, 20 Reasons for FareÂFree Service in UniversityÂDominated Communities, 22 Reasons for FareÂFree Service in Resort Communities, 24 36 CHAPTER FOUR CASE STUDIES Introduction, 36 Public Transit Agency That Converted to a FareÂFree System in an Area with a Strong University Presence, 36 Public Transit Agency That Established a FareÂFree System from Inception with a Strong University Presence, 38 FareÂFree Public Transit in a Resort Community, 40 FareÂFree Public Transit in a Small Urban/Rural Community, 42 A Community That Discontinued Its FareÂFree Public Transit Service, 45 47 CHAPTER FIVE CONCLUSIONS Introduction, 47 Knowledge Gained from Past FareÂFree Demonstrations and Feasibility Studies, 47 Conditions for Implementing FareÂFree Public Transit and Where It Is Most Likely to Succeed, 47 Outcomes of Providing FareÂFree Public Transit, 48 Areas of Future Study, 49 51 REFERENCES 53 APPENDIX A QUESTIONNAIRE/SURVEY INSTRUMENT
55 APPENDIX B CONTACT INFORMATION FOR PUBLIC TRANSIT SYSTEMS THAT HAVE IMPLEMENTED TOTALLY FAREÂFREE POLICIES 56 APPENDIX C ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY 66 APPENDIX D LOCAL ORDINANCE GOVERNING RIDER BEHAVIOR ON A FAREÂFREE SYSTEM 69 APPENDIX E SUMMARY OF SURVEY RESULTS Note: Many of the photographs, figures, and tables in this report have been converted from color to grayscale for printing. The electronic version of the report (posted on the Web at www.trb.org) retains the color versions.