Below is the uncorrected machine-read text of this chapter, intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text of each book. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.
69 ImplementatIon and outcomes of fare-free transIt systems 1. Why was a fare-free system considered or implemented versus one with fares? Public Transit Agency Respondents in Rural and Small Urban Communities â¢ The concept of fare-free or pre-paid fare was considered in the original Mason Transit Comprehensive Plan fol- lowing a study conducted in the 1980s. The University of Washington conducted the study based on assumptions that: fare collection costs consume most of the revenue collected, local residents pay for transit service in sales tax so a fare is seen as unfair, fare collection procedure can result in distractions for drivers, safety concerns related to robbery particularly in remote rural areas, enhanced mar- keting strategiesââtake the busâyou are already paying for it.â Mason Transit initiated system-wide fare-free ser- vice in December 1992 with very limited revenue and fare collection was seen as adding to costs with very minimal revenue collected to offset basic operational costs. âFares can always be added but would be very hard to remove once started.â Fares were adopted on out-of-county trips in 2000. â¢ The Local Option Tax provided the funds to allow the tran- sit system be fare-free. â¢ To reduce traffic congestion, get more people to use the transit service, and to reduce commuting costs for our res- idents. Our service area is more than 4,000 square miles in size, and it is not uncommon for people to travel 20â 80 miles one way for employment, school, and shopping purposes. â¢ To encourage reductions in automobile use. â¢ A fare-free system was implemented primarily because the cost of collecting the fare was anticipated to exceed farebox revenue. â¢ There are several other reasons for not implementing a fare in our area. These include relatively low county operating subsidies (due to the availability of Federal 5307 operat- ing assistance); administrative difficulty (hiring and training personnel, establishing accounting procedures, enforcing safe cash handling, establishing and administering discount fare policies, etc); operational issues (system delays caused by fare collection, crime problems, farebox maintenance requirements); and policy considerations (equity, incentiv- izing transit vs. single occupant auto travel, etc.). â¢ Free fares were implemented due to the passage of the dis- trictâs gross receipts tax, as well as safety concerns for the driver. â¢ In 1972 when the system first opened its doors, there was never a fare implemented because the mayor felt it was important to provide this service in a city with many low- income residents. Since then, no one has implemented one due to the cost associated with fare collection and the cityâs willingness to provide funds. â¢ The system started in December of 1987 and at that time, the seven members of the Board of Directors decided to give the concept of fare-free transit a demonstration. Originally, the service was going to be fare-free for six months, with the option of continuing with the fare-free concept determined through an evaluation of the rider- ship. The service was tremendously successful from the start. The state Department of Transportation (DOT) did a preliminary study prior to implementation of the service and estimated that our demonstration would be very suc- cessful if the system carried a total of 500 riders per day on the four original routes after providing five years of ser- vice. Our system carried 161 riders its first day of service, December 1, 1987. By our 14th week of service, we were carrying over 500 riders per day and by the end of 1998, the system had carried 247,422 riders. Today, the system carries approximately 1.3 million riders per year and trav- els approximately 3.3 million miles per year. â¢ The system has been fare-free since inception in 1996. The major employer in the service area makes a sub- stantial contribution to support public transit, as do area hotels and condominiums to a lesser extent. Fare-free was initially instituted for these reasons as well as to encourage ridership. â¢ The service areaâs population contained many students, seniors, and low-income people who needed mobility. Any fares collected would be considered as match that would have diminished the federal funding we could receive. â¢ We wanted to be a competitive service to the automobile and provide a fast service. Fare-free policies allowed our buses to travel faster. â¢ To encourage more ridership, and it cost more to collect than they would generate. Public Transit Agency Respondents in University-Dominated Communities â¢ We operate a fixed-route bus system in a university town. People with university ID cards used them as their board- ing passes. Everyone else paid a 50 cent fare. With 85â90% of our bus riders university-related, we only emptied fare boxes once a month. With new auditors saying we could have no more than $250 out in fare boxes without needing to deposit them we were having to empty fare boxes more than once a week which cost us more than the money we took in. â¢ Our Board has tasked us with the following: offer innova- tive services that reduce dependency on the automobile. We believe that operating fare-free is one way to achieve this objective. Additionally we study the fare-free issue in our short-range transit plan every five years. In the last plan completed in 2006 it was suggested that we could lose up to 50% of our ridership if a fare was charged at a level to cover costs to impose the fare. In that study a phone survey was also conducted and found that the main reason people arenât using our services is because of inconvenience. As we have studied the fare issue we believe that imposing a fare would make things even more inconvenient. We would have to increase our headways for fare collection, determine fare zones, create transfers, and the list goes on and on. We believe the increased headways are the great- est inconvenience to our customers. These reasons are the primary reasons why we remain fare-free. â¢ Because we did not wish to compete for the studentâs money. By prepaying through student fees and parking appendIx e summary of survey results
70 fees we could carry large volumes of passengers and not worry about fares. Also, the cost of fare collection, count- ing, auditing, etc., was a deterrent. â¢ It just made sense. We knew that the fares would be paid primarily by students, and load and dwell times would make the system unwieldy with fares. â¢ We chose a fare-free system because our funding was such that we didnât want to jeopardize our early efforts to get a system in place. Grants were made available from the State Human Resources Development Council. â¢ Our system charged a fare prior to January 2002. A fare- free system was considered for multiple reasons. Primarily the university believed that a fare-free system would be easier to administer from the universityâs standpoint. In addition, both the university and the town believed that a fare-free system would stimulate ridership increases. â¢ A grass-roots citizenâs Sustainability Coalition group pro- posed the fareless system to the city council to encour- age increased ridership, reduce air and water pollution and greenhouse gas production, and increase the avail- ability and ease of the service to seniors, youth, and low- income community members. The funding source is a small monthly fee charged to utility customers and this fee accomplishes three things: replaces fare revenue; replaces the local General Fund (property tax) revenue to the transit fund; and adds a small amount for system expansion. The council supported the change for sustainability reasons, but also to reduce the competition for General Fund dol- lars used for other critical city services including police, fire, library, and parks and recreation. â¢ The financial considerations of the costs of fare collection being more than the revenue collected, and the many ben- efits to the public. Public Transit Agency Respondents in Resort Communities â¢ When the County Commissioners (BOCC) took over the system from the resort operators in 1990 it had been free and it was felt by the BOCC that it should remain so. The levy campaign for our sales tax was also based around the system remaining free. â¢ Many of our trips are in short proximity. The likelihood that someone would actually pay the amount required for the fare-cost recovery threshold would be very unlikely for the type of trip we provide to guests visiting the ski area. Our fare-free transit system is considered essential in the winter to manage our increase in population. â¢ The townâs decision to provide fare-free services was to support our local retail and lodging establishments while at the same time addressing our vehicle traffic issues. The overall intent is to support the local economy and reduce vehicle congestion in the downtown area. â¢ Our transit system was the only one in the resort region that did not have a free rider system. It was determined that a fare-free system would give us competitive equality in resort transportation. â¢ The initial program was a NGO/government partnership in the political and economic environment (gas crises) of the 1970s. Fare-free bus service began in 1973. â¢ Mostly for passenger convenience. We are a resort area and anything to make it easier for the visitor is taken into account. â¢ The gondola is free to riders by written agreement as a condition of a historic PUD approval process. â¢ Parking and traffic are big issues in our small town and we wanted to encourage as many as possible to ride pub- lic transportation instead of renting cars. Crowds of skiers would cause a significant delay in boarding and alighting fumbling with money and ski equipment and only having one entry and exit available. This would make it necessary to provide more buses for the same level of service. â¢ The city council wanted to increase ridership. â¢ To stay economically competitive in a resort ski area. 2. Who was the major initiator of this policy (policy board, general manager, other elected officials, advisory board, community groups, etc.)? Public Transit Agency Respondents in Rural and Small Urban Communities â¢ The primary support in consideration of a fare-free policy came from community groups that eventually formed into the Transit Advisory Board. This group made the recom- mendation to the Transit Board that consisted of elected officials from county and city government. â¢ Public Transit was a priority the businesses were looking for in supporting the Local Option Tax. â¢ The mayor and transit agency. â¢ The executive director of the transit agency. â¢ The transit system operator, in conjunction with the MPO and Board of County Commissioners. â¢ This was brought up to the Board of Directors by staff. â¢ The mayor. â¢ The original executive director introduced this fare-free concept to the Board of Directors. He had an idea that for our size system, collecting a fare would generate little or no usable revenue for service delivery because of the costs associated with the administration of the fare system. â¢ A consultant. â¢ The Tribal Council. â¢ City council guided by staff who had worked at fare-free systems in Colorado. Public Transit Agency Respondents in University-Dominated Communities â¢ The transit system general manager suggested to the town council that if they would pay the estimated fares for the year we could make the buses fare-free for everyone. Once the town council agreed to do this, the transit agency board adopted the new fare policy beginning in July 2005. â¢ The board originally initiated the fare-free philosophy. Originally it was to be fare-free for the first year, but it has remained so for 19 years. Currently, it is the general manager and staff that hold the board to their end goals that keeps it fare-free. Unless the end goals change we anticipate staying fare-free. However, we will be studying the fare-free phi- losophy again this year in our short-range transit plan. We want to make sure our current thoughts hold true. If we are presented information that would indicate something differ- ent we would present it to the board for discussion. â¢ It was actually the premise of the demonstration grant that started the system. âIf parking fees were elevated and a fare-free system was put in place would the result be less traffic, hitch hiking, and cars being brought on campus.â â¢ The general manager. â¢ The Advisory Board of the Human Resources Develop- ment Council. â¢ The major initiator of the policy was the university; how- ever, there were three players in the discussion: the univer- sity and the two surrounding towns. The discussion started at the policy level.
71 â¢ In 2008, the Sustainability Coalition, a group of organi- zations and citizens, held a series of town hall meetings where more than 500 citizens attended to gather public input on how to make the city an even more sustainable community. The result was the Community Sustainabil- ity Action Plan, containing more than 300 action items in 12 topic areas. Eventually, five items were presented to the city council. One of those items was fareless transit, which is currently funded by the Transit Operations Fee that appears on monthly city services bills. Fare-free transit began February 1, 2011. â¢ Consultants had recommended two different systems serv- ing the community and the university, but the general man- ager recommended creating just one, and it was unanimously accepted by the city of Clemson and the university. Public Transit Agency Respondents in Resort Communities â¢ The major initiator was the Board of County Commissioners. â¢ Town council. â¢ The National Park Director approached our local town board of trustees to address the possibility of a joint shuttle system between the national park and the town. â¢ City council. â¢ Elected officials. â¢ Elected officials and volunteers. â¢ The elected officials decided this. â¢ County commissioners and the project developer. â¢ The transit director and city council were the primary initiators. â¢ City council. 3. Did you consider a nominal fare (e.g., $0.25 or $0.50) instead of charging no fare? If so, what were your rea- sons for not doing that? Public Transit Agency Respondents in Rural and Small Urban Communities â¢ The system considered various levels for âout-of-countyâ fares based on criteria derived from local surveys and research. Primary concern was fare elasticity and local social economic considerations. â¢ The administrative costs associated with the fares would be prohibitive for the nominal amount of funding the fares would bring in this small rural community. â¢ No. We wanted to have a system that allowed bus riders to travel at no cost. â¢ The cost of collecting a fare is probably in the range of $0.25â$0.50 per ride and it is not as attractive to riders as free. â¢ No. At a nominal rate, the cost of collecting the fare will in all likelihood substantially exceed system revenue from the fare. â¢ A nominal fee was not considered for several reasons: cost of installing fareboxes on approximately 45 vehicles, driver taking time to monitor what is being deposited in the fare- box, longer lines to board as customers must deposit fare into box, overhead cost in pulling fare boxes, counting money, and depositing to bank. Also many residents feel that the fare is paid through the Gross Receipts Tax. â¢ None was considered. â¢ The board of directors hired a consultant to draft a fare structure option that included fare zones and recom- mended fare structures. The board decided not to embrace a fare structure at that time because they thought that it would be good to offer the service fare-free to gain inter- est in the service. It proved so successful, that each year during evaluation of the service ridership and growing approval of the concept behind fare-free delivery of ser- vices, the board determined to keep the service fare-free, or pre-paid, service. â¢ Our system is funded by a voter approved local sales tax. In 1987, the voter approved sales tax was 3â10 of 1%. In 1999, during a major initiative-based tax revolt in Washington State, our voters went against the grain and increased the sales tax to support the system by an additional 3â10 of 1%, for a total of 6â10 of 1% sales tax. In 2009, and despite the downturn in our national and local economy, the voters elected to again increase the sales tax by an additional 3â10 of 1%, for a total of 9â10 of 1%, the maxi- mum allowable under the laws governing public trans- portation in our state. â¢ Never. â¢ No, the Tribal Council and housing authority provided the match to federal funds, so no fares were needed. â¢ We considered it, but our goals were for a fast, competi- tive service, and we had access to 1â8 th Gross Receipts Tax revenue, and realized that it would be counted as income, which would reduce federal dollars. â¢ A fare had been charged before, and they were not drawing many passengers. Public Transit Agency Respondents in University-Dominated Communities â¢ We had nominal fares prior to going fare-free. â¢ No, if we charged a fare we would at least charge enough to cover all fully allocated costs of collecting a fare. We wouldnât want to charge a fare that would be a drain on resources, but rather provide additional revenue. â¢ Yes, and the decision was it costs $0.15 to collect a $0.25 fare and collecting a fare would decrease the efficiency of the system. We use both front and rear doors to load and unload. â¢ We were forced for a year to charge a fare ($0.50) out- side the campus. It generated less than $10,000 a year. No one complained, but ridership was clearly affected. We eliminated it a year later when the governor made senior citizens exempt from fares. The only people left that were paying fares (we had already exempted school kids and disabled) were the poorest people. That made no fiscal or socially responsible sense. â¢ We chose free because of the additional expense of collect- ing fares and the reduction of federal match money if we did charge a fare. â¢ A nominal fare was not considered. There was a system with fares in place and the discussions focused solely on becoming fare-free to ease administration and increase ridership. â¢ There was consideration of lowering the transit fee to the level where only the General Fund component was being covered, but it was ultimately decided to include the fore- gone revenue and small expansion components to provide more service than what the citizens were already paying for in their property taxes. â¢ No. A study done in 1996 by consultants was reviewed by the local committee. They analyzed the capital costs, operating costs, required management reports, dwell time, etc. They noted that students would not pay a fare at the fare box since they were prepaid, meaning 70% of the pas- sengers would ride âfreeâ and only 30% would pay fares, mostly seniors who would be paying half-fare.
72 Public Transit Agency Respondents in Resort Communities â¢ No fare was ever considered. There have been discussions of late regarding possibly making the system fee-based. The recent recession has management and the board ques- tioning how much longer a fare-free system may be indeed sustainable. â¢ A nominal fare was considered; however, survey data and cost-recovery projections did not support it. Our consul- tant estimated we would need to charge a minimum of a $1.00 fare in order to break even for the equipment capi- talization (fare boxes) and for the on-going administration (collections, counting, and accounting). Surveys dem- onstrated that people would more likely move their car more often than have to pay a fare for the multiple short trips. Plus skiers often do not carry change or cash, which would pose a problem. â¢ Again, charging fees was discussed during the planning stages and because of the opportunity presented to us by the national park it was decided not to charge a fee. â¢ Our fare had been $0.50. Anything less and the costs would have exceeded the revenues. With fares, there is the cost of the fare collection system; supervisors to collect, count, and deposit the monies; the room to do this work; secu- rity; plus the extra buses or lowered service area needed to account for the time per stop/passenger to collect the fare and load the bus. â¢ Yes, a nominal fare has been discussed from time to time. The costs associated with collection, as well as potential ridership impacts, have been the factors that have elimi- nated fares as an option to date. â¢ No. The original program (a senior citizen shopping ser- vice), saw the volunteers and riders âchip inâ for fuel until the county government took over the program and pro- vided both vehicle and fuel from county supplies. â¢ We have always been a free system. We have considered charging a fee when the sales tax revenues have decreased. â¢ No, but we will in 2027 when the term of the agreement with the developer expires. â¢ Yes, but due to the problems associated with additional dwell time and inconvenience to skiers in particular, they didnât do it. â¢ No, the city council wanted to implement TDM measures (traffic mitigation) and encourage the public to ride the bus. â¢ Yes, it was considered but not seriously, and no real analy- sis was done. 4. What was the institutional structure of the transit agency (e.g., authority, county/city agency, PTBA), and how would you describe the policy making environment of the community (e.g., conservative, progressive, environmen- tally oriented, etc.)? Was that environment significant in deciding to go fare-free? Public Transit Agency Respondents in Rural and Small Urban Communities â¢ The Public Transportation Benefit structure of the system is strongly influenced by policy recommendations from community groups. Although the area can be described as conservative, it is influenced by factors that existed when the fare-free policy was adopted such as a very depressed local economy, the need to commute to jobs in adjacent urbanized areas, and a strong concern about the environment. â¢ Our agency is a private nonprofit transportation system that serves rural communities. In order for the hotels to advocate the Local Option Tax there had to be a benefit to them directly. The fare-free system was the benefit they were looking for. â¢ We are a county agency. Our local government has always been progressive in being environmentally friendly. â¢ Our agency is a private nonprofit organization providing service to six towns in two states. The political environ- ment varies widely within the service area and was not a factor in deciding to go fare-free. It may in time be a factor if fare-free is eliminated. â¢ The provider is a private not-for-profit organization, the Senior Resource Association. The planning agency is the county MPO and the designated recipient of federal funds is the county. â¢ The board of directors is made up of elected officials from each of the member counties/cities/tribes. The policy- making environment is quite mixed with conservative, pro- gressive, and environmentally concerned. There are many varied opinions in dealing with cities, counties, and tribal entities. The general opinion of the public was for free fares, especially with the passage of the gross receipts tax. â¢ The agency is a city department and our city is a transit dependant/low-income area. â¢ Our agency serves one county consisting of two islands. The service started on one island in 1987, after two failures at the polls to provide public transit in the county. The boundary lines were redrawn based on the precincts that voted âyesâ to fund the service, and after this was done the voters voted in favor of the service. A lawsuit was filed against the transit system that based their case on people âgerrymanderingâ the boundaries to obtain the approval by the voters. After almost five years in the legal system, the State Supreme Court upheld the process of adjusting the precincts because those people within the precincts voted in favor of the service. In 1992, voters in the north part of the county requested that they receive service and in 1992, by a 73% positive vote at the polls to fund transit (by 3â10 of 1%), that area was annexed into the service area. In 1995, the other island in the county requested service, and in 1995, by a 74% positive vote to fund transit by the 3â10 of 1% sales tax, that second island was annexed into the service area. (Addi- tional sales tax increases were on the ballot in 1999 and 2009. These measures were on the ballot countywide and both were successful votes.) It is of interest to note that our two islands are 3 hours round trip apart from one another, crossing over two other counties to reach one another. Most of our two islands are very conservative, though the southern half of one island is very liberal. Up until two years ago, our board of directors was made up of very con- servative elected officials. It is important to note that in 1992 the board of directors voted to reduce the size of the board from seven to five members because they felt that a smaller board would be more manageable and, therefore, more beneficial for the effective delivery of services. (I had one board member who wanted to get on the transit board because he wanted to eliminate Island Transit, or at a mini- mum, get rid of the fare-free policy. After working with him for several years, he actually started to educate people that he knew about how and why fare-free works. I recall trying everything I could on him: is there a farebox at the door of the library, the farebox isnât an enforcement tool, etc. I finally hit on the one he absorbed completely, which is the bus canât be convenient for everyone, but everyone benefits by having the bus system because every rider on
73 that bus takes a car off the road, which lessens the conges- tion for those who drive. That one hit pay dirt with him. He was a bit concerned with his very conservative constitu- ency who elected him into office, as they wanted him to get rid of us, but he was well-known and respected, so he actually started educating folks about the benefits of fare- free transit.) â¢ Yes, there are diehard conservatives whoâd love to see the system go away. (They are without a doubt a minority, as proven by the successful votes for increasing transit sales tax.) â¢ Our county is also federally designated as a sole source aquifer region. As such, protecting our delicate eco-system is paramount. In the more progressive portion of our ser- vice area, the voter approval for transit is definitely geared toward protecting our environment. This sentiment has been growing steadily in our county over the years, especially now with the focus on sustainable and livable communities. â¢ Our system has been very proactive in terms of environ- mental issues. We were the first system in our state to install a water recycling unit (March 1994) and we use bio- degradable products for washing our buses. For example, we use 100% ground cherry pits to clean the grease off of our wheel wells. We wash 35 buses, six days a week, and in one year we use the water equivalent to a family of four. We installed a waste oil burner (January 1995) to heat our facility and eliminate our waste oil. Based on a study conducted by EPA at that time, burning waste oil was the preferred method of eliminating waste oil. (Actually, elimi- nating the use of oil is the preferred method in my book. Weâre getting there. Just not fast enough.) â¢ Before we installed the waste oil that heats our facility, our electric bills ran to $1,700 a month in the winter. After installing the waste oil burner, our electric bills are approx- imately $300 in the winter months. â¢ We are a private, nonprofit public transit provider. Our state is typically liberal in nature. â¢ The Tribal Council is the governing authority and has a contract with the county to serve certain areas not on the reservation. â¢ Our agency is a city service located in public works. â¢ City agency. Public Transit Agency Respondents in University-Dominated Communities â¢ We are a county-wide public transportation authority with eight members appointed by the county commission. Our largest jurisdiction wanted to promote transit use and was willing to pay the annual fares to make it happen. â¢ Originally our agency was a department of a city with an advisory board to the city council and a private contrac- tor providing the employees. In 2007 we created a transit authority that served the county, which has 11 different cities, and this created a governing board. We actually live in one of the most conservative areas of the country. Our board, made up of 19 members, has governed by setting end goals for management and then letting management determine best how to achieve those end goals. This allows our boardâs diversity to be a strength for creating discus- sion, but then setting end goals that are broad and are sup- ported by conservatives, liberals, etc. â¢ We are presently a contract operator in a larger author- ity service area. That larger service area has 23 member communities of which we service 8. We are an environ- mentally progressive area. However, the decision to go fare-free was committed to early on before the existence of the larger authority. It was the universityâs decision to move its students as quickly, efficiently, and as low cost as possible. â¢ Our system was operated by the university, and overseen by the city, which is the designated recipient of federal grants. I would say when we started the city didnât have the vaguest idea what to do with us. As time went on, they got more involved and eventually became champions of transit. â¢ Our transit agency is a small, private not-for-profit agency. The city is rather progressive, but that had no bearing on our decision to go fare-free. â¢ Our transit agency operates as a department of the town. However it is also a multi-jurisdictional agency that pro- vides transit service not only to the town, but also the university and the other prominent town in our area. Our agency has an inter-governmental agreement with the university and the other town that establishes the budget- ing and funding processes. We also have a Public Tran- sit Committee comprised of policy level staff, the people from each of the jurisdictions providing policy oversight. â¢ The policy-making environment in this community is pro- gressive, environmentally oriented, and transit-oriented. The community has viewed the transit system as a key player in the overall development of the community. They understand that by encouraging more transit use they will reduce the need for street projects. The strong community support of alternative transportation and the universityâs motivation to hold down administrative costs were signifi- cant factors in deciding to go fare-free. â¢ Our transit system is owned and operated by the city. The policy-making environment of the community is progres- sive. That environment was a significant issue in deciding to go fare-free. Our community, home to a major univer- sity, has always been very supportive of public transporta- tion and environmental and social initiatives. â¢ Our agency started out as a joint cityâuniversity entity and wound up being a city department that was recommended by the GM since the city was the designated recipient of federal funds. Some students had been providing mobility service through unmarked vans. Our community is gener- ally a conservative area with high sensitivity to the envi- ronment and economic development. Public Transit Agency Respondents in Resort Communities â¢ Our system is owned and operated as a unit of county government. The community is very environmentally ori- ented, but that did not drive the decision to be fare-free. The residents of the county voted to fund the system via a sales tax and their feeling is the sales tax pays for the ser- vice and paying a fare would constitute âdouble dipping.â Also, since we are a resort community, most of our sales tax is paid by visitors. Additionally, the fact that we are fare-free is used as an incentive to tourism (although 67% of our riders are local residents going to work). â¢ We are town-operated and environmentally oriented. The benefits of transit are necessary when we go from a year- round population of 3,200 residents, to a high of more than 50,000 on any given peak day in the winter season. The system provides relief for traffic congestion. We get people to park their car and leave it the entire day. Our system enhances the guest experience, which in turn can make the difference if people make the choice to return to Breckenridge for another visit. â¢ The national park implemented a system and allowed our organization to participate at a nominal cost (labor and
74 fuel only), while the national park covered the expenses of maintenance and lease/purchase costs of the rolling stock. The policy making of the community related to funding is conservative and yes it played a role in the decision making. â¢ Our system is a division of the city and is overseen by the city council. The environment was a split between a desire to be more environmentally oriented with more people riding the bus and business-oriented with the desire to be competitive as a destination resort. â¢ We are a city agency and we contract with the regional transit authority to operate our eight-route system. â¢ A progressive freeholder board saw the âmarketing oppor- tunityâ in providing the most likely voters with a service that was, at the time, an inexpensive way to fulfill an unmet need. â¢ Our agency is part of two towns, one being progressive and the other being a little more conservative. Both communi- ties are environmentally oriented and yes providing a free service was aimed at getting people out of their cars and off the roads to reduce the amount of emissions that were being generated by those cars. â¢ Our agency is governed by municipal government. The political climate is progressive and environmentally ori- ented. Our service takes a significant number of vehicles off the roads and has been a huge benefit to keeping air pollutants from vehicle exhaust and PM-10 particles from being ground up into the air by a greatly increased level of vehicle traffic if the system was not operated or operated at a fare rate that diminished use. â¢ We were originally governed by one county, but it is now partnered with a second county. Both counties are pro- gressive and environmentally conscious communities, but traffic and parking issues as well as the need to speed the boarding process for skiers in particular were the primary reasons to go fare-free. â¢ We are a city agency in a community that is environmen- tally oriented, but the primary goal was to increase rider- ship versus serve environmental goals. â¢ Our transit agency is a partnership of cities and counties as an agency that deals with all transportation demand man- agement issues. 5. Was there a major generator of riders from a single source in the community prior to establishing a fare-free ser- vice, such as a university or major employer, that might have made fare-free a logical choice based on their rider- ship or willingness to help pay for the service? Public Transit Agency Respondents in Rural and Small Urban Communities â¢ A very large program serving persons with disabilities was a staunch supporter of fare-free transportation for clients. â¢ Our agency had a partnership with a major resort that allowed their employees access to work. The resort pro- vided the local match for the grant funds until the resort went into bankruptcy. â¢ No. (Five transit agencies provided this response.) â¢ Yes. The two biggest employers in the region were the prime underwriters of fare-free. Those employers are the medical center and college. â¢ A major aircraft manufacturer was clearly a major employer and still is, but was not a major factor in the decision to establish fare-free service. â¢ Yes, a successful resort is the major employer in the service area, especially during the winter months, and has supported public transit with annual contributions since inception. â¢ There is a casino, and a lot of workers are transported there, and it had provided fare-free service prior to the establish- ment of our public transit service. â¢ The university is in town, but is not the dominant presence or reason for establishing a fare-free policy. Public Transit Agency Respondents in University-Dominated Communities â¢ The local university was the major source of local funds and riders for the transit system. â¢ We do have a university that does generate approximately 45% of the ridership; however, the initial fare-free phi- losophy was instituted because the board at the time did not think the conservative community would ride the bus, so they thought this would help expose people to the services. â¢ This is and always has been a university-dominated sys- tem. Through the demonstration grant high-density areas were identified off campus where students were housed. These were the first targets of off-campus bus service. Dormitories and peripheral parking areas on campus are also serviced. That is why student and parking fees are the major revenue to operate the system. â¢ At first, 93% of our ridership was students. But as time went on, the community became more involved, and the system targeted them more. This bred trust with the city as they saw us as less self-interested. Now the ridership break- down is closer to 80/20. That students were the generator of ridership clearly led to the fare-free service. â¢ The local state university is our largest ride generator. They provide approximately $150,000 of funding each year. Faculty and administrative staff from this university of 10,000 are also using the system, as well as other people in the community for work and shopping. â¢ The major traffic generator that was an impetus for the fare-free system was the university, which has a popu- lation of students and staff, including their hospitals, of about 45,000. The populations of two towns are about 52,000 and 17,000. â¢ State university students make up 43% of overall rider- ship. Faculty and staff account for another 4% of ridership. Both of these groups were already riding âfareless,â since there was a group-pass program for both. The students were paying a small amount ($2.76 per student per term) via their quarterly student fees for transit, and the univer- sity provided $20,000 per year for faculty and staff. The monthly transit fee replaced both of these programs. â¢ Yes, the university. Today we operate in three counties, five cities, and four universities. Public Transit Agency Respondents in Resort Communities â¢ The service area is home to four world-class ski resorts. These are the major employers 8 months of the year. â¢ Our system is a complementary system to the one that is operated by the major ski resort. Our mission is to move the low-income job access commuters to and from work, to get the guests parked so that we can eliminate all-day gridlock, and to move the overnight ski guests into town for the restaurants and nightlife. Everything we do is feed- ing the economic engine. â¢ No. (Two agencies provided this answer.) â¢ Our major trip generator is the tourist industry focused on the ski area. This not only includes the visitors to the ski
75 area but all associated workers, night life, and other visitor amenities. Carrying exact change or bus passes was some- thing that made travel more burdensome and also created difficulties for persons wanting to do linear trips with a lot of stops/destinations. â¢ Ridership generators on the transit system include employ- ers, recreation (ski) areas, large events, and tourism. â¢ Not specifically. The major generators were rural geo- graphy and an aging population. â¢ The major employer in the county is the ski area resort. Our system is based on the seasonal flow of visitors to the area. The resort donates funds to help with any extra ser- vice that they request. â¢ This is a resort community. Our service connects two towns and is used by residents, employees, and resort guests. The large number of resort guests visiting the region is probably the largest user group, and the free service makes sense in that the service becomes an attraction in and of itself. â¢ Three ski resorts drive much of the economy. The visitors and employees of the resorts are why they have fare-free transit. â¢ Major generator is ski resort, primarily for employees, but visitors, too. 6. If fare-free policies were considered but not implemented, what were the reasons for not implementing? Public Transit Agency Respondents in Rural and Small Urban Communities â¢ When major state transit funding was lost in 2000, the sys- tem had to reconsider fare-free. The primary reason for changing the policy to a fare on out-of-county trips was to address public concerns that the system participants needed to pay before they would support an increase in local sales tax for transit. â¢ Not applicable. (Eight public transit agencies provided this response.) â¢ Free-fare resolutions were passed and renewed each time presented to the board. â¢ We felt that the fare collected would pay for the adminis- tration of the fare structure with virtually no usable rev- enue for service and that the fare structure itself would reduce ridership (SimpsonâCurtin Rule on elasticity). Public Transit Agency Respondents in University-Dominated Communities â¢ Not applicable. (All eight university-dominated public transit agencies provided this answer.) Public Transit Agency Respondents in Resort Communities â¢ Our system is in its 20th year and we have always been fare-free within the county. We recently began offering commuter services to a county 30 miles away and these services are fare-based. â¢ Not applicable. (Seven public transit agencies provided this response.) â¢ Financial. O&M costs are $3.5 million per year and a huge financial burden on the resident taxpayers. 7. If you had a fare prior to instituting fare-free service, what percentage of total agency revenue was generated by the fare box? Public Transit Agency Respondents in Rural and Small Urban Communities â¢ Not applicable. (Eight public transit agencies provided this response.) â¢ 35%. The money collected was $800,000. â¢ A free zone was first implemented and evolved over sev- eral years into all free. Total fare receipts did not change much over these years, but shrunk as a percentage of rev- enue from about 10% to about 3%. â¢ Less than 1%. â¢ They collected $22,000 when fares were charged, less than 3% of total agency revenue. Public Transit Agency Respondents in University-Dominated Communities â¢ Not applicable. (Three public transit agencies provided this response.) â¢ About 2%. â¢ It was less than 1%. A ridiculous figure. â¢ About 8% of the agency revenue was generated through the fare box. â¢ Cash fares, coupons, individual bus passes, and group pass programs accounted for approximately 14% of total agency revenue. â¢ Though they didnât have a fare, around the state fare box recovery was 20%. Public Transit Agency Respondents in Resort Communities â¢ Not applicable. (Seven public transit agencies provided this response.) â¢ At the time, 25%â35% of the overall transit budget was made up by fare revenue or pass sales. Minimal other sources of revenue generation were derived from advertising. â¢ Not applicable, but with 2.2 million riders in 2010, a fare of $2 per ride would offset the O&M costs. â¢ Around 21%. 8. Was a cost-benefit analysis done, or a âpros and consâ analysis (e.g., comparing the cost savings of eliminating fare box repair and accounting for revenue versus the expense of lost revenue, additional operating and main- tenance expenses to handle increased ridership, or addi- tional security expenses to deal with potential issues with new riders if fare-free service was established)? Public Transit Agency Respondents in Rural and Small Urban Communities â¢ The analysis primarily consisted of local meetings and public hearings between members of the public, advisory committee, staff, and board. â¢ Yes. â¢ Additional operating costs were expected, as well as secu- rity issues with the projected influx of new riders. â¢ The initial commitment was for a two-year trial period with little analysis involved. More thought and analysis has been required in order to justify maintaining fare-free and a study was completed by the Community Transporta- tion Association of America. â¢ An informal analysis was done when the service began. Recently, a fare analysis was done in the event that Federal Section 5307 operating subsidies are eliminated. General
76 assumptions were made regarding loss of ridership (fare elasticity of demand) and costs of collection. â¢ A pros and cons analysis was presented to the board accounting for the cost to cover the installation, staff col- lection and counting, preparation to deposit at bank, versus the amount collected. The ongoing cost left minimal cost recovery. Also, an analysis was done on driver distractions in collecting a fare, as well as the passenger wait time as passengers board. Increased ridership and security were not and have not been an issue. â¢ The mayor was in office over 37 years and he did not want to burden the community with additional fees for a ride. â¢ Yes, weâve done several âpros and consâ analyses, and cost-benefit analyses have also been done over the years, especially during the ballot measures for sales tax increases. â¢ Our entire service pulses off the Washington State Ferry Systemâs Clinton/Mukilteo service route. Our system liter- ally makes changes in our service structure that will save us 15 seconds, as an example, in one route or another at certain points. We have studied and calculated the capi- tal costs, installation, maintenance, vehicle depreciation costs, administration costs associated with the fare struc- ture (be it electronic, âsmart-cardâ systems, or old, manual 25 cent boxes), impacts to our service delivery, and reduc- tion in ridership, if we were to charge a fare. We estimated annual maintenance support, capital costs, and additional time required in our route structures because of the addi- tional time necessary for passengers boarding the bus. We conservatively calculated that we would have to increase our buses on the road/service hours in order to meet our schedule due to time constraints that the fare box would impose by an additional 34,000 service hours annually. â¢ A cost analysis has been done in numerous national stud- ies, most of which indicated a negative impact on ridership. â¢ We estimated it would cost one full-time equivalent posi- tion to account for the revenues and determined it just wasnât worth it for what we collected. â¢ Yes, and the staff analyst had worked in fare-free systems before, including Glenwood Springs, which had gone from a $0.50 fare to fare-free. We preferred no fare, plus new revenues from a new tax source were available. â¢ Yes, they would lose $22,000 in revenues, but also lose the cost of counting fares and came out ahead with a fare- free policy. Public Transit Agency Respondents in University-Dominated Communities â¢ No cost-benefit analysis was done, but it was obvious col- lecting fares for such a small portion of our ridership was not cost-effective. We expected a 10% increase in rider- ship and realized a 21% increase. â¢ There was not an initial cost-benefit analysis done, but this is one of the items that will be done in detail with the cur- rent short-range transit plan in 2011. â¢ In the early 80s a doctoral student did an extensive analysis of the system and payment methods. The conclusion was to stay fare-free for multiple reasons. â¢ Extensively. We studied other systems. I remember doing a 30-minute presentation about cost/benefit. â¢ We looked at the cost of fare collection, and also realized the majority of people boarding would be university stu- dents and personnel and thought it wouldnât make sense. â¢ There was not a formal cost-benefit analysis completed. The fare-free system evolved through a series of discus- sions between the university and the towns. The university was experiencing ever-increasing administrative costs to administer a fair subsidy program for their employees and students. As a result, they believed if they went fare-free they could save significant costs in program administra- tion and generate substantial increases in ridership. With limited parking and no parking growth on campus, it was in the universityâs best interest to shift its focus to encour- aging persons to use park-and-ride on the edge of town and be shuttled on to campus. In a prepared analysis, it appears that when the university revenues were removed from con- sideration there was only about $250,000 in farebox rev- enues that the town collected that was not directly related to persons travelling to the university. Understanding that rev- enues were relatively small, the town decided they could forego that amount of revenue to see a ridership increase. There were no additional security expenses to deal with the issues of new riders. â¢ These issues were discussed, but no definitive cost-benefit analysis was completed. â¢ Already answered in previous questions. Public Transit Agency Respondents in Resort Communities â¢ Not at the start of service. Recent cost-benefit analyses have been undertaken to determine the feasibility of implement- ing a fare-based system. These have basically focused on the infrastructure costs of implementing the fare collection system and when we could expect to realize revenues after purchase and implementation. We estimate that it would cost $1 million to purchase fareboxes, money counters, and make retrofits to facilities to count and store money. If they charged a dollar fare, it would take two years just to make up those costs. The ongoing costs would be approximately four FTEs to do fare box maintenance, count money, and provide security, which would cost about $225,000, or about 16% of the $1.4 million brought in annually. We have also studied what impacts going fare-based would have on overall ridership. At this time, we have made no decisions on whether or not we will implement fares. â¢ Not applicable. (Four public transit agencies provided this, or âNoâ as their response.) â¢ No analysis was done because there were a lot of models that showed what impact a fare reduction or increase would have, but there were no models showing either the elimi- nation of a fare or the institution of a fare for a previously free system. Also the list of variables that could enter in as the reason for a ridership increase could not be calculated. â¢ A fare implementation study was done in 2009â10 as part of a Transit Development Plan study. â¢ No, but the analysis was performed as to what O&M costs would be borne by the taxpayers before the free service was implemented. â¢ Yes, when the cost of fuel went up a couple of years ago. But the loss of ridership and costs of collecting canceled out the revenue and was found to not be worthwhile. â¢ No real analysis, seemed pretty evident that revenues would be minor and there was a need to be competitive, along with convenience for skiers. 9. Did the agency make a fairly accurate estimate or pro- jection of the impacts on total ridership and any new expenses that would be incurred? Public Transit Agency Respondents in Rural and Small Urban Communities â¢ No. (Five public transit agencies provided this as their response.)
77 â¢ Yes. (Two agencies provided this as their response.) â¢ Yes. About 425,000 trips in 2005, to our current level of 1,300,000. â¢ We did not attempt to make detailed estimates on projec- tions except to determine that fare box revenues lost would be replaced by other contributions in lieu of fares. â¢ It was determined that the benefits of the fare-free system generally outweigh the costs. â¢ We estimated the increase in ridership and saw it to be positive. New expenditures were not incurred as this coin- cided with the establishment of the district. â¢ Ridership has tripled, so it definitely went up higher than expected. Public Transit Agency Respondents in University-Dominated Communities â¢ We probably underestimated the expenses associated with increased demand. â¢ Not applicable. â¢ Total ridership exceeded expectations and additional buses were added. System grew quickly as we put four other col- leges in the area in the system as well as some neighbor- hood routes. â¢ We had no new expenses. We knew ridership would grow. We had no idea it would grow this much. Itâs a good prob- lem to have. â¢ Our agency did not attempt to project the impact of rider- ship on the system. â¢ We anticipated an increase in ridership in the range of 20â50%. We also anticipated issues with overuse of the system by the homeless (the buses becoming a rolling home less shelter) and individuals presenting behavioral challenges. We have seen ridership increases of over 24% the first month and 43% the second month and no new issues with members of our homeless community or increased behavioral issues. â¢ Consultants predicted 10,000 to 20,000 pass permits. By the end of the first year, there were 30,000 permits per month, so our experience was 50% more than predicted. Now ridership is at two million per year. We started out with 26 buses and are still there, as they have gradually increased service area. Public Transit Agency Respondents in Resort Communities â¢ Not in regard to the fare-free system. We did project that we would likely lose up to 36% of our ridership once fares were implemented and that it would likely take up to 5 years to regain that ridership. â¢ Yes. â¢ Yes. As ridership increases the cost-benefit goes down; as of now our per rider expense is approximately $6.00 per person. â¢ We knew ridership would go up but we had no way of cal- culating how much. We were able to flatline our expenses for a few years because of efficiencies gained by not deal- ing with fares (load both doors, no doorway delays by looking for fares, etc.) â¢ No. (Three agencies provided this response.) â¢ No. The original program could not have foreseen the expansion of government legislation and continuing devel- opment of rural areas. â¢ Weâve been operating the system since 1996 and the orig- inal cost estimates were low. â¢ No, but ridership grew 125% in just a few months. 10. Were there any technical or political (or any other) implementation issues to deal with? Public Transit Agency Respondents in Rural and Small Urban Communities â¢ Political pressure to charge system-wide fares continues but is less intense owing to a shift in public interest in using transit due to high fuel costs. â¢ There are always more requests than the available dollars and it is a very competitive process. â¢ No. (Five agencies provided this response.) â¢ No. The political issues happen over time. Some question why municipalities are asked to contribute when fares are not charged. â¢ Just political. â¢ Yes, there was active public dialogue during the sales tax increase measures due to the concept of our fare-free policy. However, the majority of our citizens have become educated about the costs associated with the fare box collec- tion and they support the community atmosphere that exists on the buses. Each bus is a community unto its own, and life-long friendships have developed. People have become neighbors on the bus even though their houses are 30 miles apart. We have a high level of disabled and elderly rider- ship and lots of route deviation service. Our able-bodied, young, disabled, and elderly citizens are watching out for one another on our buses. This caring relationship carries over to their home lives as well. â¢ Capital costs. â¢ We were the first, and possibly only, transit agency to be a partnership between a Native American tribe and a county government to receive federal grants for a transit authority. Public Transit Agency Respondents in University-Dominated Communities â¢ The buses were stopping at more stops with more passengers. â¢ Our system is funded by a local option sales tax that was passed by the voters. There is a vocal minority of non-riders that state that a fare should be charged to make sure the rid- ers are paying their fare share. This same group of people, however, does not believe that roads should be tolled. â¢ The primary political issue was when our university system joined the regional system and the perception of the lower valley was that the upper valley was getting free bus service and they were not. It was resolved by education. â¢ Itâs not easy to start a public transit system in a small town. The roads arenât made for it. They had never seen a city bus before. We had to work hard on that. â¢ Some people argue about free fares, but the agency has responded that facilities like libraries, parks, roads, and sidewalks are free to use. â¢ It doesnât appear, at least in the early stage of our inves- tigation, that there were any technical or political imple- mentation issues. â¢ Individuals were provided the opportunity to obtain a refund for previously purchased bus passes, coupons, and day passes. There were a few letters to the local news paper objecting to the new fees (three were implementedâ transit, sidewalk maintenance, and street tree maintenance) as new fees with no/little personal value. The implementing vote at the city council was 5 to 4. â¢ Cities pay for gross hourly costs for service they received, allowing costs to be covered in new communities we extended service to. The state distributes 5311 funds par- tially based on formulas taking into account ridership.
78 Public Transit Agency Respondents in Resort Communities â¢ No. (Five agencies provided this as their response.) â¢ No. Transit is perceived to provide real value in our community. â¢ Actually, the main issue was that when there was a fare or pass, several properties were not interested in transit and the costs associated with outfitting their guests for the service. Once the service was âfreeâ they felt that they should get equal service because they were paying equally in taxes. â¢ Not then because the developer who agreed to the Planned Unit Development provision requiring free transportation connecting the two towns had not yet sold any of the lots. Today, a number of the town residents who pay for the system disagree with the agreement, but I suppose they could have or should have performed their due diligence before purchasing the property. â¢ There are always political and technical issues to imple- menting any transit system. Some common issues are funding, where the routes run, and what kind of fuel pow- ers the buses. 11. Were there any issues with dealing with transfers to and from other transit agencies (did other systems lose revenue as a result of you going fare-free)? Public Transit Agency Respondents in Rural and Small Urban Communities â¢ No known issues except reports that other systems that charge fares are pressured by public to reduce or remove fares. â¢ No. (Six agencies provided this response.) â¢ No, we are the only public transit provider on the island. â¢ There are no transfers between IRT and other operators. â¢ There were no issues, it was agreed that the fare for other agencies would stand. â¢ No, not really. Some of the other systems get sick of hear- ing how great our service is and how friendly the bus oper- ators are. Our fare-free structure has not interfered with any other system negatively. The decision on fare or no fare is a local decision. (People certainly prefer to ride our buses!) â¢ Our transit neighbor to the northeast started service in 1993. I visited the county during the community dia- logue about whether or not to start a public transit system. Because of our direct involvement and discussions about the issues the fare box imposes, they started their system as a fare-free system. We developed a reciprocal service in 1999 where we would operate a round trip route to a des- tination in our neighborâs county, which is 35 miles north, while they would operate a round trip route into Oak Har- bor. There was no fare in either system, so it was an easy partnership. When the tax revolt in 1999 happened, our neighborâs board was pressured by their voters to start to charge a fare, or they wouldnât vote for future, additional sales tax to support the system. They started a fare struc- ture in 2000 and lost 60% of their ridership. They are now paying for their second fare system, and they still havenât recouped their losses from purchasing their first fare col- lection system. â¢ No. We connect with public transit services in a town that has a fare system. We limit the locations that we pick up riders there so as not to take fares away from that system. â¢ Not really. We do private service for the casino and switch drivers when we do. Public Transit Agency Respondents in University-Dominated Communities â¢ No. (Two agencies provided this response.) â¢ Initially we did not connect with other systems and there was no direct impact; however, there was political pres- sure on systems nearby that charged a fare to justify why they charged a fare when we did not. This at times caused some political pressure on both systems. In 2006 we started providing service across the state border that did enter into another transit system. We contracted with them to provide the service in this area for them because they could not cross state lines. Recently they started providing service during midday to our transit center. Because the morning and eve- ning service we provide for them is fare-free, they elected to provide the midday service fare-free. So they have seen lost revenues for this service. This has been their choice. â¢ The taxi got beat up pretty good, but it was mismanaged anyway. Another taxi service has since come and been very successful. We work well with them. â¢ The regional transit agency provides service connecting our service to other jurisdictions in the region. There were no issues in dealing with transfers to the other system. The riders from our system simply had to pay a fare to board the regional buses and of course there were no issues for persons boarding our fare-free system coming from the regional system. â¢ A portion of our system connecting to a neighboring town had free two-way transfers and used the same fare struc- ture as we did when we had a fare. The neighboring townâs system did not go fare-free, so although the transfer from their system to ours is still free, riders transferring from our system to theirs must pay their fare. The only other com- plication is that the fare for our paratransit is also $0.00. So our contractor had to set up the billing system to no-charge for those rides as opposed to other rides provided to seniors and persons with disabilities, including paratransit rides in the neighboring service area. â¢ Yes. Our system transfers with another neighboring tran- sit system. We decided to pay any transfer expenses out of pocket. The neighboring system agreed to allow any students to ride fare-free. Drivers of our system give tick- ets to passengers who board the neighboring system, and our system reimburses the neighboring system when we receive the tickets. Public Transit Agency Respondents in Resort Communities â¢ We do not interact with any other system in the region at this time. There is a small circulator system in the neigh- boring town that is also free so there are no issues. â¢ No. Our coordinating systems are also fare-free. â¢ No. (Four agencies provided this response.) â¢ We are the only system in town. There was the perception that we would severely impact the taxi services, but we found that although they still charged a fare, people were very willing to pay for the flexibility that a taxi offered over the fixed-route âfreeâ bus. â¢ The limited number of âotherâ area transportation options would make impact minimal. â¢ They are currently disconnected from any other system, but are considering connecting to the largest system in the state, and it is an issue that is being discussed. â¢ Yes, but they worked them out with the regional provider. 12. What is/was the funding environment for transit in the community? What are the funding sources for the transit
79 system and did those sources change with the institution of fare-free service? Public Transit Agency Respondents in Rural and Small Urban Communities â¢ When the system started, primary funding was from a 0.2% sales tax that was matched by our state. In 2000, the state stopped the match and the local sales tax was increased to 0.6% through a public vote. We found that a fare needed to be added to obtain public support for a tax increase. A compromise was proposed to only charge on out-of-county travel. The justification for that fare included that persons traveling out of county tend to make purchases there that donât benefit the local sales tax. â¢ The system is funded through the 5311 grant program and matched by the cities and counties served as well as the tourist tax. As costs continue to increase and local funding remains flat there is the potential for implementing a fare structure. â¢ County general fund, weight tax funds (a half-cent tax on each pound of automobiles brought on the island). This is a car registration fee. We get a half cent per pound of all cars that are registered in the county. We began receiving it about a year before we went fare-free. These sources did not change. We also charge $1 for carry-ons over 16 in. Ã 22 in. that raises $30,000 a year. Carry-ons include all bags, such as luggage, bicycles, and large back packs. â¢ The funding environment is challenging, but the economic climate has traditionally been relatively healthy. The fare- free policy has required study, continuous explanation, justification, and political support from advocates in order to maintain it. For about four years now a new fund rais- ing program has attracted 1,000 new donors and sponsors totaling about $100,000 annually. â¢ Our system derives approximately 50% of its operating revenue from Federal Section 5307 Grant Funding through the Governorâs Apportionment. 25% of its funding comes through state operating subsidies and 25% comes from the countyâs general fund. Lately, advertising revenue from vehicles and donations has been encouraged to supplement local operating revenue. â¢ The passage of the gross receipts tax for sustainable fund- ing for the district supported the free fares. The gross receipts tax is a tax on businesses in the state. It is different in each city and county. Our agency had to go for a vote on a general ballot to the people. We passed it for one-eighth of one percent and receive it for 15 years from the stateâs revenue department on a quarterly basis. We also receive Federal 5311 and 5316 funds. â¢ Federal 5307 80%; Public Mass Transit Fund from the state and local is 50/50 of non-federal. â¢ We receive annual contributions from the area resort, area hotels and condominium associations, stop and advertising donations from area businesses, and annual contributions from area school districts where we provide tripper service. â¢ Variety of sources: Fedsâ$850,000 in 5311 and JARC, some 5307 through the county, but county and cities are not putting any match up. Tribe puts up $1 million. â¢ $2.5 million operating budget. Federal grants, city general fund, and 1â8 th GRT. â¢ General fund from the city for match. Public Transit Agency Respondents in University-Dominated Communities â¢ We had a substantial increase from the town to pay for foregone fares. â¢ Our local funding is 0.003% of local option sales tax. We then get 5311, 5307, and 5309 funds. We do some advertis- ing on our vehicles that generates additional funds. Initially the sales tax was passed by only the voters in one city and the transit district was created as a department of that city. In 2000 the voters in nine other cities and the county were allowed to vote on creating a transit district and passing the sales tax. This vote created the Transit District. From 2000 to 2007 the Transit District contracted to have services pro- vided by the cityâs transit department. In 2007 we separated from the city and brought everything under the Transit Dis- trict, which is a specialized service district or authority. So in the process of doing all of this we kept the system fare- free and we asked the voters to pass the necessary sales tax in each community that we serve. We have made choices to grow the system as revenues allow but we are looking to ask the voters for a second tier sales tax in the next few years so that we can expand the system and meet the growing need. â¢ Our funding is very good. Generally, we have the student fees, state, and federal assistance. There is less than 100K of other local money (ARC, county tax, area on aging grant). â¢ Our paratransit operates on a voluntary donation of $2.00 per ride. Most of our customers are fine with the volun- tary contributions. We earn about $17,000 a year from these contributions. Our paratransit folks can always take the fixed-route if they wish. The student association is a greater contributor to the system than the university gen- eral fund. The university gave us some money a couple of years ago with a couple of strings attached. They fund most of our Saturday service and the Livingston run. The city contributes to our paratransit service so we can use that money to leverage federal dollars. The city has also promised us about $70,000 in general fund money for this year. Our total annual budget for 2012 should be in the area of $1,143,000. â¢ We receive local funding from the university and the two towns in our service area. At the time the fare-free sys- tem was implemented, the funding allocation formula was modified. So, while the same partners were contributing local funds, the contribution by the university went up substantially as they shifted their emphasis to operating a park-and-ride system. â¢ Our small urban system used revenues from 5307 and JARC 5316 through a state grant, fares (including group-pass pro- grams), a direct contribution from the university, local prop- erty taxes (the general fund share), rental of space on the buses for advertising and revenue from the State Business Energy Tax Credit program. The transit fee has replaced revenues from fares and the General Fund contribution. The per-student per-term fee is no longer paid, nor is the faculty and staff annual fee. It is presumed that students, faculty, and staff will pay the fee through the utility bill like other residents; $2.75 per single family household. Because the fee is based on trips generated, the fee is more for businesses (7-Eleven, McDonaldâs, etc). $2.75 is the lowest monthly fee and $1,978.00 per month is the highest monthly fee. â¢ Governments at all levels have been good for our system, especially the feds. 5311 can be used for capital or oper- ating, while 5307 is used for capital. The state provides funds through a 0.25% sales tax. So, fedsâ30% with 5311, Universityâ30% ($67 per student per year), and local partners 40%. Public Transit Agency Respondents in Resort Communities â¢ The initial levy in 1990 was a 0.5% sales tax for public transit service between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. In 2001 voters
80 approved an increase to 0.75% to extend service to 2 a.m. (given the amount of partying that goes on in town). Our system is funded by a 0.75% countywide sales tax and a small amount of Section 5311 operating funds. This has always been the case. â¢ We are funded out of the townâs general fund, which is com- prised of sales tax, accommodations tax, and real estate transfer taxes. There is also a $2 surcharge on parking within municipal limits that are directed to transit. The parking fee structure was designed to ârecoupâ some of the transit cost. It is only $2 out of $12 for a day parking permitâbut the methodology was to have the parker support paying for their transit trips, which in this case is from the town parking lot to the ski resort most of the time. In 2010, about $78,000 was the amount generated by the extra $2 added to the parking fee. Again, not earth-shattering dol- lars, but every little bit helps. Our budget at one point was $2.8 million, but with the economic downturns we have slowly ratcheted back over the past 3 yearsâparticularly with our summer schedule, and this year we are budgeted at $2,078,361. We are currently exploring alternative tax options with a partial dedication to support transit to take to the electorate at a future date. â¢ There was no pre-existing funding source for the shuttle system. It is funded with general fund dollars from the townâs budget. â¢ Our transit agency is part of the general fund of the city. At the outset, city revenues were growing dramatically and so the absorption of the difference between collect- ing fares and âfreeâ service was not seen as problematic when opposed with the increased business generated by the competitive improvement that the system would have when compared to other resorts. As the budget has grown over the years, we have come to rely more on federal grants for capital expenses as well as some assistance with operating costs. Our budget at the time was about $1 million. The fares accounted for about 25% of that budget. It has been proven over the long haul that the city made a mistake in the way that they implemented the system. At the exact time that the city made the transition, the dollars were there to run the system. However, as things changed, we were part of the general fund and were therefore at the whim of economics, politics, and the desires of different orga- nizations. When we discovered that there may need to be a funding mechanism put in place, those that had contrib- uted via pass sales were no longer interested in paying for the service and those who did not receive direct service did not want to pay unless they got great service. Without shouting too much, GET A FUNDING MECHANISM IN PLACE PRIOR TO BEGINNING âFREEâ SERVICE. I would suggest this funding mechanism needs to be tied to a wide base of sources with automatic triggers based on ridership, demand, and inflation. However, the best way to do it is to establish a target, put forth the background for this target, then get out of the way and let the players come up with what works for them. Needless to say, we are not even going to work through a ballot initiative, so services will still be based on general fund, funding. â¢ Sales tax, use tax, and parking fees. â¢ Initially completely locally funded, the program has since taken advantage of federal funding sources and casino revenue funds. However, both of these are becoming an endangered species threatening continued service. â¢ Our system receives a dedicated 1% sales tax collected in the town. We also receive a 1% admissions tax from the town. â¢ RETAâReal Estate Transfer Taxes with a provision requir- ing Master Homeowners Association special assessments if a shortfall exists (hasnât happened yet). â¢ We receive 5311 federal funds and a 0.25% sales tax. â¢ Sales tax remained the same before as after the fare-free program. â¢ Federal grants and revenue from a local option resort tax. No parking revenues are received. There is no charge for parking in the community, and we wish there was. 13. If you never had a fare and have always been fare-free, do you have any estimate of what instituting a modest fare would do to your ridership? Public Transit Agency Respondents in Rural and Small Urban Communities â¢ Yes, ridership would decrease. When we were research- ing a fare on out-of-county service we utilized a formula that used socioeconomic factors such as the local poverty rate. I believe the loss based on a $1.00 per ride fare was over 40%. â¢ Our agency serves the rural communities and there is a high level of poverty and low income so there would be an impact to ridership if the passenger was to pay a monthly pass of $40 to $50. We would have to add the administra- tive cost to the fare structure. â¢ We previously had a bus fare. â¢ N/A. (Three agencies provided this response.) â¢ We estimate ridership would drop by about one-third. We have no formal analysis to support this conclusion, but this is the approximate percentage of our ridership that has access to an automobile. We have run a series of sensitiv- ity analyses assessing the fiscal impacts of different (25%, 33%, and 50%) losses in ridership as a result of collecting fares. â¢ The ridership would decrease. We have not done a study to determine percentage of decline; however, the public has established a voice as to their disappointment if fares were implemented, as to being taxed twice. â¢ Yes, we would lose most of the riders, therefore dropping in ridership and 5307 monies would drop causing PMTF to drop. The local share would need to increase and that is not feasible for the city and all this would cause the depart- ment to close. â¢ Our neighboring system lost 60% of its ridership when it established a fare after being fare-free for 10 years. â¢ We believe we could easily expect a decrease of 20 to 30%. â¢ Based on recent ridership increases after we eliminated the fare, a fare would probably reduce it by 50%+. Public Transit Agency Respondents in University-Dominated Communities â¢ Depending on what size fare we would charge, we estimate a decrease in ridership ranging from 48 to 54%. â¢ We estimate instituting a fare would initially cut our ridership by 50%. â¢ Well, we know that. For that year we did charge non- students; the city ridership was flat. Since, it is up 300%. â¢ Donât know. (Three agencies provided this response.) â¢ We estimate a 50% reduction in ridership, and a substantial reduction in service frequency. Public Transit Agency Respondents in Resort Communities â¢ Models we have produced indicate a drop in ridership of between 20% and 36%. The choice riders would probably quit using it. There was a service between our service area and another that was a 25-mile treacherous one-way trip
81 offered for free and had good ridership, which was paid for with a JARC grant. Once that ran out they charged $2 and ridership went to zero! We would probably consider insti- tuting an all-day pass if a cash fare was established. We have privatized the maintenance shop and are seriously considering privatizing operations. â¢ Yes, our survey data indicated that we would see a signifi- cant plummet in ridership that would be estimated to be anywhere from 35 to 45%. This would cause an increase in traffic congestion outside of ingress and egress. â¢ No, but it probably would reduce ridership and increase operational costs. â¢ N/A. (Two agencies provided this response.) â¢ A third-party transit planning firm has provided us with an analysis which shows a fairly significant drop in ridership, from 26 to 33%. â¢ A study is in process. Two competing schools of thought: senior citizens and low-income riders may not be able to afford a fare, lowering ridership. On the other hand, rider- ship may actually increase due to a change in the percep- tion of who should use the service. â¢ We would expect ridership to drop; to what extent, we donât know. â¢ Decrease the total ridership by up to 25% (wonât really know until it happens). â¢ We estimate a probable 25 to 42% drop in ridership. â¢ A fare would generate $100,000, but we would lose 25% of ridership. 14. What was the nature of the ridership before and after a fare-free system was established (age, income, racial composition, students, etc.)? What changes did you notice, if any? Public Transit Agency Respondents in Rural and Small Urban Communities â¢ Ridership on out-of-county service has increased signifi- cantly due to higher fuel costs. We have several discount- pass programs for low income, student, elderly, and disabled. â¢ N/A. (Four agencies provided this response.) â¢ No change in the nature of ridershipâjust a lot more. â¢ Passenger surveys indicate that in 2008 over 50% of tran- sit passengers had a car available for their trip. Ten years before that the figure was 25%. During that time frame rid- ership tripled. This indicates the intended policy to provide an incentive to people to leave their cars at home and take the bus has worked. â¢ Ridership dramatically increased in all areas when free fares were implemented. â¢ It has stayed the same. â¢ Always been fare-free. 10% students under 18, 20% students going to college, 10% are seniors. The rest are primarily commuters to work or to community services. Number of Native Americans is pretty small. 70% of pas- sengers go nowhere near the casino. â¢ Not sure of the nature, but ridership tripled with elimina- tion of fares. They are expecting total ridership of 180,000 by the second year of free fares. Public Transit Agency Respondents in University-Dominated Communities â¢ Summer ridership included more homeless people. â¢ N/A. (Two agencies provided this response.) â¢ Ridership has always been about 85% student, 13% fac- ulty and staff, and 2% general population. â¢ We are surprised that our system does not serve any one socioeconomic stratum any more than another. As time has gone on, we carry as much of one as another. â¢ Much of the ridership has been oriented toward the univer- sity both as an employer and a location for students. More than half of the students live throughout the two towns in our service area. When the system went fare-free and the park-and-ride system began to expand, we noticed a sub- stantial increase in the trips going to the university, both students and employees. â¢ The city has not yet conducted post-change surveys to determine this information. Public Transit Agency Respondents in Resort Communities â¢ Our ridership is mostly low-income service workers and some tourists interspersed with some moderate- to high- income choice riders. We feel that we would lose the choice riders and tourists if a fare was instituted. We also project some loss of the workers. â¢ No changes, as we have always been fare-free. We do have a significant amount of âchoice riders.â â¢ We saw an increase of 24% the first year and 23% on top of that the second year. Because our ridership is largely made up of guests, there was no change in ridership demographics. Our demographics mirror the demograph- ics of the overall community. The only change that we saw was the increase in short trips (less than 0.5 mile). I think one of the issues is defining a âlocal.â In our area many people consider themselves a local as soon as they move here to recreate or work through the winter. We are currently in âmud seasonâ where there are no tour- ists here at all. Our ridership is 100% local and we are carrying about 1,000 riders a day. In the summer tour- ist season, our ridership will increase to 2,500 but the local population will stay at about 1,000. In the winter, we estimate our âlocalâ population doubles to 2,000. We count trips, not people, so one person that gets on six times is counted the same as six people that get on once. I would say that a majority of the âlocalsâ may only use the bus for two trips a day (ski and home, work and home), while the tourist will make trips to recreate, dine, shop, etc. With the âfreeâ service, they are more apt to split up their trips into segments (out for breakfast, then to ski, restaurant for lunch, back to ski, aprÃ¨s ski, home, restau- rant, night club, home). â¢ N/A. (Four agencies provided this response.) â¢ Ridership demographics have merely changed with the requirements of government programs. â¢ Always been fare-free, but riders are 60% local and 40% visitors. 15. What were the intended/expected and actual outcomes of offering fare-free service? Public Transit Agency Respondents in Rural and Small Urban Communities â¢ Expected: More revenue for operations, high ridership, and fewer hassles between driver and passengers; Actual: High ridership on out-of-county trips provided more rev- enue. System also could charge government agency for employee trips. We have a contract with the Navy and it is tied to what we charge the public. Fares under this agreement = $200,000 a year. If the system was fully fare- free it would not be able to receive this revenue. Drivers seem to have more hassles with problem passengers in fare-free area.
82 â¢ The fare-free system is well received in the small com- munities we serve. The local option tax is supported by the hotels and they actively promote the transit system to their guests. â¢ Less traffic congestion, additional riders, and additional service to accommodate the increased ridership. All were expected and came to be. â¢ Passenger surveys indicate that in 2008 over 50% of tran- sit passengers had a car available for their trip. Ten years before that was 25%. During that time frame ridership tri- pled. This indicates the intended policy to convince people to leave their cars at home and take the bus has worked. â¢ The fare-free service is a major contributor to high rider- ship. Our fixed-route transit ridership and boardings per- capita are substantially higher than that of comparable counties. â¢ The anticipated outcome of free fares was primarily increased ridership. â¢ Providing an alternative to the automobile; reducing congestion/pollution; reducing the consumption of and dependence on oil; creating a comfortable and relaxing environment/experience on the buses; promoting and encouraging public transit use; educating our youth and others that there are ways of going about daily activities besides driving a car; appreciating and protecting our lovely island ecosystems; creating a more sustainable and livable community and bringing community members together; educating that public transit is a bi-partisan issue; creating a platform for Democrats and Republicans in local government to discuss a bi-partisan subject, thus assisting in the establishment of more cooperative relationships and dialogue, thus appreciating and respecting one another. â¢ To promote ridership, which has proven to be successful. â¢ They expected people to value the service, but they have become âvictims of their own successâ; getting tons of requests for services. Public Transit Agency Respondents in University-Dominated Communities â¢ We expected an increase in ridership and that we would have more demand for service, and that is what happened. â¢ Increased student mobility and ridership surpassed our expectations. â¢ In essence, the fare-free system has created a dependency on the system from the most financially challenged sector of the community. That, in turn, has created political sup- port in the community. â¢ It was anticipated that going fare-free would relieve sig- nificant administrative costs for the university, which it did, and it would stimulate ridership growth, which also happened. â¢ The intended/expected outcomes included increased rider - ship and this has been borne out in each of the first two full months after implementation of fare-free service. Other negative expected outcomes have not yet been observed. â¢ We expected about 15,000 monthly passes would be requested and issued 30,000, so demand was 100% higher than predicted. Public Transit Agency Respondents in Resort Communities â¢ The intended outcome was a high ridership system, which we have. Our service area has a population of approxi- mately 28,000 and ridership is 1.7 million annually. Prior to the recession, ridership was over 2.1 million. â¢ We have been very successful in mitigating traffic conges- tion, reducing pollution, and meeting our Transit Mission. â¢ To provide a convenient method of conveyance for our visitors. â¢ Tongue in cheekâby the initial promises made, we were going to end world hunger and cure all ills. In reality, the reasonable prognostication was from no change in use to a 50% increase in ridership. We did see a 50% ridership increase over 2 years, and have doubled our ridership over the long term. We have also increased our service area, the frequency of buses, the quality of service as well as equipment, and changed our overall system to promote the development of transit dependent (or choice) riders as well as the guest population. I think that it is the marriage of improved service as well as âfreeâ service that has created the increase in ridership. It is our belief that if we can get someone to try the bus, we can probably create a long-term customer and the elimination of the fare cut down one sig- nificant barrier. We did not do any increase in service. We were at the tipping point that we would have to increase service if we did not do something to free up some time in the respective routes. We have increased service over the ten years, but this was done either by adding additional buses to an existing route as demand increased or adding small feeder routes (more political than productive) that have not accounted for much ridership. It is still the same core routes that are carrying the majority of the passengers. We have also polished our summer service to focus on the areas of greatest demand with the highest frequency rather than having all buses serve all areas at a lower frequency. â¢ Our service is provided fare-free with the ultimate goal of capping traffic at 1993 levels in perpetuity. This goal has been achieved. In addition, the system carries over 1 mil- lion passengers annually. â¢ Human services transportation as an outgrowth of local, state, and federal programs and support for local govern- ment officials. â¢ Before my time, donât know. â¢ To get cars off the roads and to provide a pedestrian trans- portation system linking the two towns; it has been hugely successful! â¢ We wanted to reduce congestion and parking issues as already mentioned. This has been accomplished. What we didnât anticipate were the marketing and public rela- tions benefits. The system is a very visible presence in the community that allows people to see their tax money at work for the good of all. Very much like the fire and police departments. 16. Did the implementation of fare-free service impact park- ing in any way, positive or negative (e.g., less parking facilities needed or unanticipated parking problems due to people parking in neighborhoods and then using free transit for the remainder of their trips)? Public Transit Agency Respondents in Rural and Small Urban Communities â¢ Inadequate park-and-ride facilities are causing parking issues. Antiquated building codes require transit to con- struct off-street parking to offset on-street parking lost due to development of a transit center in downtown. We need park & ride lots for out-of-county and local service that is designed to limit the number of vehicles in the downtown. â¢ No. (Three agencies provided this response.) â¢ Fare-free has had a positive impact on parking and has lessened the need for parking supply compared to what it would have been without fare-free transit service. In some
83 areas that offer free parking there have been occasional complaints about park-and-ride use. â¢ There are typically no complaints about park-and-ride users. â¢ There was no impact in this area. As a rural entity in four counties, major park-and-ride lots were not required. We have a lot of connectivity with other systems and modes. â¢ The two negatives associated with fare-free transit deliv- ery are that there are never enough buses and there are not enough parking areas. As we provide service in rural areas, we allow âflag stops.â We have had problems with people parking where others donât want them to park, but we liter- ally address each situation one on one and get things fig- ured out in everyoneâs best interest. It just takes that extra time and care. That communication alone promotes public transit. We have earned, and enjoy, a fantastic reputation in our community, something that would not be what it is today if we were a fare-charging system. We are an inte- gral part of our communities. â¢ We approached the state legislature and requested specific funding so that we could construct our own park-and-ride lots. We were successful. We call our P&R lots âTransit Parks.â We have more landscaping than parking areas. We work with community members in each area weâre going to build a Transit Park. The Transit Parks are their parks; they work together on the vision, plants, and landscaping and we work with them on building those parks. This proj- ect has also been wonderfully successful! We have one transit park that was built alongside a protected stream and natural habitat, with herons and bald eagles living right nearby. We brought our environmental folks and native plant folks and other members of the community together. We did not have one negative issue. It is a large Transit Park, mostly a park with walking trails and interpretive signs. We had a shelter design contest and the citizens chose the shelter design they preferred. Our shelters were made by a local artist and they are wonderful works of art. The community raves about their Transit Park, which includes landscape clearing, weed pulling, and total care of the park. They all volunteer their time for these activities. We have an agency employee take the Master Gardeners program and she assists with the work and ensures there is hot apple cider in the colder times of the year. The project has been more successful than I could have dreamed! â¢ Providing fare-free service between hotels and condomin- ium complex to the major resort keeps a lot of cars off the road and out of the resort parking lots. Each end of our routes has the capacity for parking and no major impact was expected. â¢ Not in a significant way, though the casino needs less park- ing for workers. Public Transit Agency Respondents in University-Dominated Communities â¢ We did notice a greater use of unofficial park-and-ride lots by our riders. Ultimately this became a problem at a major shopping mall, where we had to abandon service this year. â¢ No major impact in cities but this has helped reduce the required parking at the university. The university has been able to eliminate existing parking lots and put in buildings. â¢ Student parking on campus decreased and congestion improved greatly. There are many informal park-and-ride areas that have developed. The adjacent town initiated a neighborhood parking permit system to discourage park- ing in residential areas near the university. â¢ No effect on parking other than cars staying in their spots. There has, however, been a one-third drop in the purchase of parking tags. â¢ Our system has freed up parking in the downtown area and on campus. â¢ The fare-free system did impact parking. 1. Part of the reason for the fare-free system was to respond to the need to relocate parking from the center of cam- pus to the edge of the city. As a result, there has been a growth of satellite parking around our towns. Because of this, the university has been able to expand facilities on campus without the need to expand parking. 2. There have been some unanticipated parking problems related to âstealth park and ride.â Persons will park near and around park-and-ride lots or along high-density routes to take advantage of the system. â¢ The intended/expected outcomes included increased rider- ship and this has been borne out in each of the first two full months after implementation of fareless. Other negative expected outcomes such as carrying more homeless pas- sengers or rowdy teenagers have not yet been observed. â¢ Very positive impact. The university had six parking garages in their master plan and they have never had to build even one. Public Transit Agency Respondents in Resort Communities â¢ Parking has always been an issue here. Free transit has no real bearing on that. Land is at a premium hereâthe median single family home price is just under $500,000, and an acre of prime land goes for at least that or more. â¢ We generally have a parking shortage for some peak days. What we did do was add some dollars for transit as part of the parking fee for our town pay parking lots. The ski area charges $10âthe town lot is $12. We are funded out of the General Fund, which is comprised of sales tax, accom- modations tax, and real estate transfer taxes. There is also a $2 surcharge on town pay parking within municipal limits that is designed to recoup some of the transit cost. We are currently exploring alternative tax options with a partial dedication to support transit to take to the electorate at a future date. What we have seen is that we are more suc- cessful in getting people out of the car and having it parked for the entire day. In the past, we had issues with daily gridlock because people would move their car around a lot. â¢ No, we added an additional 300 spaces in conjunction with the implementation of the shuttle plan. â¢ A push was made at the same time as the âfreeâ service was implemented to build a remote parking lot and pro- mote the use of satellite parking. This has resulted in a slow adoption of this idea. Whether or not we have a park- ing problem is dependent on who is asked. Some perceive a parking problem; others see a walking problem (those who are upset when they cannot park directly in front of the business). Because one can typically find a parking spot within two blocks of their intended business and bus stops are placed every two blocks, there is currently no advantage to bus usage for those that donât want to walk. We have seen a dramatic increase in ridership for special events when parking is at a premium and transit can get people close to their intended target. â¢ Is there any evidence that the city saved money on the cost of providing parking because of the service? No. We havenât added any significant parking, but I canât say that this is a direct result of our free transit system, although I believe it to be true. â¢ N/A. â¢ Parking is an issue because it is limited. On busy days the overflow parking does impact the residential neighbor- hoods, but not often enough to restrict or require a parking permit within the city limits.
84 â¢ Staff is not aware of either positive or negative impact on parking and no survey has been done. â¢ The free service encourages people to park their cars and ride. We also operate a free dial-a-ride taxi service that fur- ther encourages residents to leave their cars at home and ride. We recently started to charge for parking to help offset some of the significant expenses associated with operating and maintaining parking facilities, which further encour- aged people to use the free transportation services. As a result we observed a drop off of parking lot usage. â¢ We built a parking structure near our transit center and his- toric Main Street for ease of parking and riding the buses around town and that takes cars off the road. Also, cars can park at the ski resort parking lots or at the high school and ride the buses to their ultimate destinations. â¢ No. â¢ There is no paid parking in the entire area. 17. Did fare-free transit cause any increase in development or an influx of residents or employment or change in prop- erty values? Public Transit Agency Respondents in Rural and Small Urban Communities â¢ No way to tell. â¢ N/A. (Two agencies provided this answer.) â¢ No. (Two agencies provided this answer.) â¢ Real estate listings and rental housing listings always men- tion if they are on the bus line. â¢ Not that can be identified. (Two agencies provided this answer.) â¢ I recall keeping my eye on the local newspaper when we first started service, and when I saw that first house listed in the rentals section that stated âon the public bus lineâ I absolutely knew we were here to stay. We have more and more people moving here because theyâve heard of our system. Lots of folks want to get away from their cars and create more livable and sustainable communities. â¢ While fare-free transit may not be the cause of develop- ment or change in property values in our service area, it is a value-added element of the major resort and as such does have an impact. Public Transit Agency Respondents in University-Dominated Communities â¢ We have noticed a lot of infill developments on our bus routes. â¢ Hasnât been determined. â¢ Home sales and rentals always advertise they are on the bus route. â¢ Property values have always remained on the high side. TOD is still a struggle to be realized. â¢ No. â¢ Not that we have tracked. â¢ Our area is a pro transit community and much of the devel- opment that has historically been planned has a strong transit component. In the development review process, the town places a focus on identifying ways that the develop- ment can support transit. I donât know that we can docu- ment significant changes in property values. There was an increase in demand for apartments and homes along the transit routes, primarily because many of the people that live in the neighborhoods are either students or employees of the university and they canât park on campus. â¢ Staff is not aware of any. â¢ Free or not, transit helps all these things. The Berkshire Group, a development firm out of Boston, said they would invest $25 million if the community provided transit to their development (or they would build elsewhere). This company also built shelters and amenities. â¢ Increases property values and sales. Public Transit Agency Respondents in Resort Communities â¢ No. The exclusive nature of the area is what causes prop- erty values to be so high. â¢ Transit has not increased property values, but it is seen as an attractive feature when people try to sell their home. Homes with transit access do sell quicker than ones with- out. But the property values are comparable. Same is true for rental properties. The rental turnover is more frequent and steady when transit is within walking distance. â¢ No. (Three agencies provided this response.) â¢ It is impossible, and unlikely, that a direct link can be made between the âfreeâ bus and development. Many projects have been built since the fare went away, but this can be tied more to the influx of development at a resort com- munity during the late 1990s and early 2000s. However, many developments used their proximity to the âfreeâ bus system in their marketing efforts and in their analysis of management overhead. â¢ The bus system is a valuable service in both towns. Numerous ads for real estate note the property is on the âbus route.â â¢ There is likely a cause and effect relationship with these factors but I do not have enough information to speak to what these might be. Many property owners attest to the positive reinforcement to their property values the free Dial-A-Ride and transit system represent, but I cannot put any figures to these concepts. â¢ It has influenced new development with a âtransit ori- entedâ mindset. It also influences where employees and residents look for housing; thus, property values increase with proximity to bus stops and routes. â¢ Maybe. 18. Can you attribute any advances in âlivabilityâ to the fare-free service? Public Transit Agency Respondents in Rural and Small Urban Communities â¢ We are told by residents that bus service has greatly improved livability and that fare-free is working to increase peopleâs choice to use transit. â¢ Public transit in general is an advance to livability and fare-free makes it even better. â¢ Having fare-free service allowed us to improve the quality of life for our residents by providing a free public transit service to accommodate their commuting needs. â¢ This is highly subjective, but the fact that apartments are advertised as being on the bus line is one such indication. Another is the ease and affordability for low-income users and others such as developmentally disabled users that find fare-free easier. Despite the growth of âchoiceâ transit riders, there are over 100 individuals that have reported reliance on transit service to commute to and from work. It cannot be quantified what that number might have been if fares were in effect. â¢ The convenience and quality of the fare-free transit service is regularly acknowledged in the local press and is widely
85 perceived as a key component of livability. The system is, for fixed-income persons and seniors, a lifeline to a bet- ter quality of life. Interestingly, our fare-free bus service is regularly acknowledged by the international yachting community as a key local amenity and is called âthe best service of its kind anywhere.â â¢ There are advances to livability due to mobility owing to fare-free service. â¢ No. â¢ Yes, absolutely without question. I believe that you would be surprised as to how much we have influenced more liv- able and sustainable communities. Weâre not just a bus system. Weâre an integral component of our island life style. â¢ For seniors, low-income, and youth riders there are no bar- riers to using our system. â¢ Not in the trendy sense of the word, but people getting to work and school service is important. Public Transit Agency Respondents in University-Dominated Communities â¢ I think going fare-free has made it a more livable com- munity for many. â¢ We have been able to do more high-density housing plans. We just went through a visioning and planning process a year ago, which was county-wide, that deals with better land use planning, TOD planning, etc. â¢ Yes. All the realtors advertise that houses and apartments are on âThe Free Bus Route.â The town often gets men- tioned in national magazines that due to the colleges and transportation system it is a top place to live and retire. These are just a couple of examples. â¢ Economically, it is easier for people to get to jobs and shopping. I would also say that parents of students like the multi-modality of Amtrak to bus, which makes their trips seamless from Chicago. â¢ We work closely with several senior housing areas and with the mental health center to make sure we serve their customers. â¢ It is too early to determine this. Anecdotally, we have received comments that riders appreciate the fare-free sys- tem and see it as a community livability factor, and oth- ers have commented that they see the positive impact this change has made in the contribution to making our city even more livable. â¢ Yes, it helps with congestion, and transit helps everyone whether they use it or not. Public Transit Agency Respondents in Resort Communities â¢ There has been some impact. As more development occurs, we are seeing more transit-oriented development and communities designing developments around transit and âwalkability.â However, much of this is due to the very high cost of land (at least $500,000 an acre) and the relatively small amount of land to work with given the ter- rain. â¢ Yes, very much so. In terms of livability here are some excerpts from the Livability Grant we submitted: âMaximum peak population can swell to more than 50,000 people on any given day during the peak winter season. Providing fare-free transit service to job access commut- ers, local residents, and visitors partaking in the recre- ational activities to reduce traffic congestion and maintain livability in our small town is the goal. The town has made significant investments in both current and future afford- able housing projects, which are transit oriented by design. The fare-free system provides transit and walkability access to recreation, medical, educational, shopping, din- ing, affordable housing, residential neighborhoods, Main Street, and town hall. A parking spot in our town is the new kind of gold, and fare-free transit makes it possible to keep the cars parked all day and get people to wherever they need to go, both freeâwithout fareâand with easy con- venience. Our transit system provided 688,461 passengers with a free ride, which was a 19.7% increase in ridership over 2007. The carbon emissions vs. if the same people had driven their own cars, resulted in 202,336 pounds of carbon dioxide that were saved from our environment in 2008 because they took fare-free transit.â â¢ I sum up livability in that we have a quality of life that is unsurpassed with our year-round recreational oppor- tunities; we can live, work, and play in one of the most beautiful and natural places in the world. The fact that our community is committed to being green and sustainable is also a plus. How many communities provide free transit as a strategy for mitigating congestion, pollution, and in a way, even marketing? That guest experience is a huge part of marketing when you think about it. We have the transit and walkability access available to everything. It is part of why our community is such a nice place to live and visit. And itâs free! The investment our town council makes in transit, well, that says a lot about our community. â¢ No. (Two agencies provided this response.) â¢ We have seen a dramatic increase in our transit-dependent/ choice ridership. We also do see an increase in ridership during the economic downturn as well as the increase in fuel costs. Our population is a little over 12,000, but we have an annual ridership over 1,000,000. Anecdotally, most real estate and rental ads mention their proximity to transit, when they can, as one of the main selling points. â¢ Walkability and multi-modality (we have a car share pro- gram that links to our free system and a bike share program is in the works)âcar free livingâcommunity vitalityâ tourist experience. â¢ Yes. Expansion of community transportation services and enhanced quality of life. â¢ Itâs a great asset to the community for both residents and visitors. â¢ Sure, fare-free is a positive thing on an individual basis but in reality there is no such thing as really free because someone is paying for the services through taxes and assessments. â¢ Less traffic congestion, pollution, and more walkability are just a few. 19. Have you been able to quantify any of the benefits to your community due to fare-free service (e.g., reduced conges- tion, pollution, gas usage, etc.)? Public Transit Agency Respondents in Rural and Small Urban Communities â¢ Only from comments provided from riders. â¢ Not in an officially documented manner. The ridership numbers show the benefit to the community. â¢ Yes. â¢ Yes. Based on ridership at the time it was calculated that our transit service contributed to an annual reduction in airborne pollutants of five tons. The net reduction in air
86 borne pollutants is expected to be significantly greater in the 2011 study due to cleaner emissions buses and higher ridership. â¢ The MPO performed an externalities analysis as part of the 2030 Comprehensive Plan Evaluation Appraisal Report. â¢ Being a rural service we have not conducted sophisti- cated studies to determine the effects on the communities involved. Our favorable public feedback has been our only guideline. â¢ As the increase of gas prices happen, increases in ridership have occurred. â¢ Absolutely, in so many ways; as an excellent example: we calculated that if our transit system were not here today, the ferry run would have to operate 11 more trips on a daily basis. The costs for the ferry system to have to operate that many additional ferry runs would be not only staggering, but the funding to do so is not there. We have benefited the community by reducing pollution, congestion, gas usage, etc. If we were not here today, the ferry lines and wait times would be intolerable and unacceptable. One of our islands also has only one bridge to go to the mainland. Without our transit system, the roadways would be impossible. â¢ Mitigation of traffic at a problem intersection in town; jobs access for many towns. â¢ N/A. Public Transit Agency Respondents in University-Dominated Communities â¢ We have recorded increased ridership almost every year since going fare-free. â¢ We have not performed any exhaustive tests. We are cur- rently having the university perform emissions testing on all of our vehicles as well as the universityâs CNG buses to determine pollution levels. â¢ Yes, although present demands have overwhelmed the system somewhat and there is no additional funding to meet demand. â¢ No. â¢ We estimate a net savings of 929,043 vehicle-miles trav- eled with a CO2 savings of 1,041,642 pounds during the first ten months of 2009. â¢ The town Sustainability Department has quantified some benefits of the fare-free system. We know that in five years the ridership grew from 2.5 to 7.5 million rides per year. Sustainability has done calculations on how this has affected the townâs carbon footprint. â¢ We have not done this analysis, but the ridership increase is presumed to have had a positive effect on all of these areas. Public Transit Agency Respondents in Resort Communities â¢ Since we have always been free we have never done any studies to determine this. â¢ Between 1997 and 2010 we have eliminated over 1,730,557 pounds of carbon from our atmosphere versus if our passengers had used their own car for the same trips. â¢ No. It is a relatively new system and we do not have that data. â¢ We have not been able to do any concrete quantification due to the high number of variables. However, our dou- bling of ridership suggests that a high community benefit has been reached. We also were a community that was charged with lowering the level of particulates in the air. Transit was identified as one solution to this problem and the city has attained the required particulate level. â¢ Traffic remains at 1993 levels. Also, largely due to aggres- sive TDM strategies, our city proudly became a PM-10 attainment area in 2004 after 17 years of non-attainment status. â¢ Unknown. â¢ Every full bus that is going to or from our town is taking at least 10 to 15 cars off the road. â¢ Yes. Reduced congestion, pollution, and gas usage. â¢ We canât quantify them, but we feel that the system is vital and important to our community. â¢ No studies we are aware of. 20. What have been the benefits (intentional or unintended) of a fare-free system? Public Transit Agency Respondents in Rural and Small Urban Communities â¢ Provided more trips to residents. There is more revenue for local residents to spend locally. â¢ The administrative costs for a fare-free system are signifi- cantly reduced. â¢ Having fare-free service allowed us to improve the quality of life for our residents by providing a free public transit service to accommodate their commuting needs. â¢ Prior to 2007 our system did not provide complementary paratransit service and was required to implement it in 2007. By law, 100% of the demand for service by those that qualify must be met regardless of cost. Because a fare is not charged on fixed-route service, it cannot be charged on ADA paratransit service. Fare-free paratransit is attractive and MUCH more costly to provide. The large growth in ridership has placed pressure on transit sched- ules and increased demand for improvements such as bus stop amenities. Increased volumes of riders result in more cigarette butts and trash at bus stops, which has generated complaints from property owners both public and private. â¢ Our small urban system experiences a transit modal split of over 2% on several major arterials and 7% on one major collector. System-wide, our system carries several times as many passengers per capita as peer group properties charg- ing a fare. It is the opinion of the county that the fare-free transit policy is instrumental in attracting choice riders to transit, since these riders must be offered either a time or money incentive to abandon the convenience of their automobile. â¢ Satisfied customers and increased ridership. â¢ Due to the downfall in the economy, people are looking for ways to cut their own expenses. Gas prices are not making it any easier for people to get around and they are leaving their vehicles at home and taking the bus. â¢ Community bonding and cooperation; relationship build- ing, social opportunities; building social skills and respect for personal space and individual property with our youth; nurturing the value and importance of respecting the space of others; merging our elderly, disabled, and able-bodied community members; reduced waiting times for the ferries. â¢ Because of the relationships we have developed on the buses and in our communities, we have been able to work with parents when their children are truant from school. We have the child and parent/guardian meet with our sys- temâs personnel and we work with the child and let them know that between the hours of X and X that they will not be picked up by the transit system. We take their picture with the approval of the adult and child, and we place the picture in each operator trip bag. Our folks are very well informed in these matters. When the child first starts to try
87 and board the bus, they are turned away. That only hap- pens one time. Itâs a very successful program. â¢ Ease of operation and strong ridership. â¢ Providing affordable mobility for students, employees, seniors, etc. Public Transit Agency Respondents in University-Dominated Communities â¢ To the user it is a much easier system to negotiate. As long as they are at the stop on time and are civil they ride to where they want to go without needing to show an ID card or produce a fare. This has made boarding quicker. It has also reduced driver complaints. â¢ Mobility for students to commute to class and work; increased social mobility on nights and weekends with- out students having to have cars; students are able to take classes at any of the five colleges in the service area. â¢ Greater penetration of riders, bus system is not a luxury. â¢ Our projected ridership was 198 rides a day and we have had days that have produced 1,200 rides in a day. â¢ Benefits: increased ridership, increased state and federal funding as a result of the higher ridership, a much higher degree of local citizen support and interest in the transit system since it is now community-wide fare-free. â¢ Increased ridership and reduced run times. The fare-free system has reduced boarding times. â¢ People come to retire to the community partially because of the transit service. Once a month we have representa- tives of other universities visit to learn what has happened here. We also now have a sun-powered facility. Public Transit Agency Respondents in Resort Communities â¢ Reductions in peak season congestion and fewer impaired drivers on our roads. These were the intended benefits. â¢ Between 1997 and 2010, we have eliminated over 1,730,557 pounds of carbon from our atmosphere versus if our passengers had used their own car for the same trips. â¢ Lodging, businesses, workers, and visitors use the system more and more. We anticipate increased use as we market this system. â¢ The primary operational benefit has been in a reduction of costs for the transit system and the community. For the transit system, we have needed to increase our equipment level at a lower rate because of our ability to load and dis- charge passengers quickly. This corresponds to a lower level of staffing in all areas including operators, mainte- nance, and administrative levels. We are able to service a larger area and higher number of stops. As a community, as infill occurred around the ski area base, transit was called upon to provide more service as parking diminished. Some management companies have reduced their level of shuttle transportation because of what our fare-free system pro- vides. Finally, we provide over a million passenger trips a year so an estimated 300,000â500,000 vehicle trips were removed from local streets. We have also seen an increase in the use of transit by younger passengers, youth groups, and day cares. Without a fare, use of the bus is made easy and the need for carpools, multiple-errand trips, and sin- gle-occupant trips is reduced. â¢ Reduced pollution, reduced vehicle trips, increased multi- modality, improved âsmall town character.â â¢ The expanded system (from the original single bus) has given a greater number of riders of varying demograph- ics significant options not served by other transportation. Our so-called secondary customers have benefited directly through increases in clientele and employee base. â¢ It benefits everyone, passengers and drivers alike. It makes it so much easier when money is not involved. â¢ Reduced congestion, pollution, and gas usage. (Three agencies provided this response.) â¢ We believe it enhances our economic competitiveness. 21. A typical concern with free-fare systems is that there might be rowdy teenagers or vagrants who utilize the buses to the discomfort of other riders. Have you had to put more resources into supervision or security as a result? Do you have policies that prohibit loitering or round-tripping? If so, what ordinances did you pass and can you share that ordinance? Public Transit Agency Respondents in Rural and Small Urban Communities â¢ We enforce RCW 9.91.025 Unlawful Bus Conduct by suspending violators. We have a staff position dedicated to assuring customer satisfaction while riding and waiting at bus stops. That positionâs primary focus is on mentor- ing teens. We have riders conduct policies listed on our website. â¢ We have not seen any problems of this nature. â¢ We have had some issues. Video surveillance has been installed in all buses. â¢ We have a broad range of demographics among our riders. The main problem is as described above with trash and cigarette butts at bus stops. We have not had to change rider policies due to fare-free. â¢ Instances of rowdy passengers and vandalism are rela- tively rare. These issues appear to be no more frequent or noticeable than on peer systems charging a fare. â¢ We have not had to pass ordinances, as dealing with cities/ counties/tribes it is very difficult to deal with a unified ordinance. We have taken time to train drivers in these areas, and installed cameras, and reserved the right to refuse service to disruptive customers. Being regional we do not encounter this problem very much. â¢ Not at all. Our entire fleet has surveillance systems. â¢ We do not tolerate swearing and obnoxious behavior on the buses. Interestingly, often times, because of the coop- erative community atmosphere that has been developed on our buses, adult passengers will step in and work with the operator to get the kids to calm down and be respectful of others. It has been quite interesting to see the benefits of this all the way around. The kids learn that they wonât be allowed to âget away with itâ from not just the bus opera- tor, but from other passengers as well. Youth and parents can choose whatever school they wish to attend based on curriculum. Our transit system is their form of transporta- tion. It gets easy, with the bus and bus community, to know our riders by name, even though we carry an average of 4,600 riders per day. â¢ There are certain individuals that just donât seem to want to cooperate by continuing to be disruptive. We issue what we call a âblue slip,â where the individual is told that they will not be picked up by a bus and that they must call the office to meet with transit personnel about their unaccept- able activities and lack of respect to others on the bus. We have denied rides for periods of time depending on the offense and circumstances. When the individual contacts the office, we meet with them and explain how and why their behavior on the bus is disrupting to the passengers and to the safe operation of the vehicles. They provide
88 permission to take their picture, and we distribute that pic- ture among our bus operators. Much more often, we are very successful with the individual. Sometimes, it takes more time working with an individual. Our goal is to suc- ceed and educate our riders as to the importance of respect- ful interactions while riding our buses. â¢ We do not allow loitering. We are careful in distinguishing loitering; we get to know our youth by name. â¢ Our system has a rider policy that is clearly posted on each bus. A student rider policy is distributed to the area high school each fall. No problems. â¢ We have not experienced any real problems with our passengers. â¢ This isnât an issue for us. The drivers ask âWhatâs your destination?â to remind people it is not intended to be a way to pass the day. Police ride occasionally. Public Transit Agency Respondents in University-Dominated Communities â¢ We have security cameras on all of the vehicles and facilities. This was done because we want to provide security for our customers, not because of the youth specifically. We have several people that will just ride the buses. We allow that as long as they are not causing problems; however, after one round trip we specifically ask where they are going and put them on the appropriate bus or we make them switch to another route if they are just riding around. We have a specific policy that deals with inappropriate behavior and that is how we deal with all passengers. A few years ago we had to suspend an elderly womanâs riding privileges because she violated this policy and this made international news. She took us to court on the issue that we were violating her rights and the court sided with us. We re-instated her riding privi- leges as soon as she agreed to abide by the policy. It may be something that we will add in the future. Honestly, we donât have a huge problem. We are vigilant in making sure the behavior is what we monitor and base decisions on; therefore, if someone is riding around but not causing problems we will let them. We do ask them to move to a different bus after a round trip and they comply. We donât have a lot of this, but even some of the elderly like to just get on and ride around to see the sights or visit with people, which we donât mind. We view this as a quality of life issue and if this helps someoneâs quality of life and they are being respectful then whatâs the harm? â¢ Yes, we post the picture if we have one for the drivers to see so that they know to keep the individual off. In reality we are talking about 2% of our riders that we deal with at this level and most of the drivers already know the vio- lators. Also, the individuals know that if they try riding when they are suspended the punishment will be much higher than if they follow the process and meet with us. We maintain a tight handle on this so that the problem is dealt with quickly. The word spreads quickly about how we deal with individuals, both when they follow the pro- cess and itâs a good experience and when they donât and itâs a bad one. Before an individual can have their privi- leges restored they must have a legal guardian or them- selves, depending on their age, come and meet with our staff. We explain the proper behavior for riding the bus and they must sign a contract that they will abide by before getting back on. This meeting resolves most issues. We also have a police substation inside our transit center and it has the sheriffâs logo and the local police departmentâs logo on there. We have put all the necessary equipment in there so that an officer can file his reports. We also contract with the sheriffâs department to provide us with a deputy at our transit center for four hours each day during peak time. The deputy has our radio frequency so that drivers can make direct contact with him if necessary. He spends most of his time at the transit center, but he can jump on the buses if there is a problem or go to stops in his car. This has been a great partnership and helps maintain control. â¢ So we have trained all of our supervisors and the sheriffâs department that we want to warn passengers at least a cou- ple of times about how to change behavior before we start down the road of discipline because we want people riding the bus. Once someone has been warned sufficiently then a supervisor has offices at the transit center that they pull the individual into to discuss their behavior. We leave it up to the supervisors to make the determination of whether the individualâs riding privileges are revoked or not. Once revoked they are given a ticket and a card of the member of management that they need to meet with to get reinstated. The supervisor then fills out an incident report and makes a recommendation of how long this personâs privileges should be revoked for. The member of management meets the individual and their guardian if necessary. If the indi- vidual is humble and wants to work with us we will usu- ally give them a minimum punishment; if they want to be difficult, we will follow policy as outlined. We have only had to keep someone off the bus for more than a month a couple of times. 99% of the individuals value their ability to be transported and will work with us. â¢ The drivers also have the ability to ask passengers to get off their bus and we let them make the initial determina- tion for how long. They can kick them off for one trip or one day. If they want to kick them off for longer, they give the individual a card of a management member and tell them that they must talk with them before riding. Like I said the drivers know the ones that cause problems and are pretty successful about keeping them off. This sys- tem has worked very effectively for us. Let me make this very clear; we donât want to kick people off and those that are we want to get them back on as quickly as possible. I believe because we treat all individuals with respect is why we donât have larger problems. â¢ We have a policy that states you may do one round trip and then the driver has the option of asking you to get off the bus. If the passenger refuses he/she may be escorted off by police. In extreme cases a disruptive passenger may be âtrespassedâ and not permitted to ride. With the instal- lation of cameras on the buses rowdiness has decreased immensely. In the past we had some graffiti and rowdy issues with junior high and high school students. Since we have cameras on the buses and a liaison through the town police department to the schools the problem has practi- cally been eliminated. â¢ Ah yes! We recently did just add our security on the school route. It immediately squelched the problems. â¢ We do not mind round tripping. If it gets to be a problem, we suspend riders. If they want to ride all day, fine with us. â¢ We have a no loitering or round-tripping rule posted in all of our buses and that has been enough to solve the problem. â¢ We have not had a significant problem with rowdy teen- agers on the bus; however, we have had a problem with vagrants. As a result we have implemented a strict policy on misbehavior on the bus and of what we call backtrack- ing on the system. Passengers, mostly âvagrantsâ who continue to violate policies, get trespassed from the buses permanently. â¢ To date, there has been no increase in rowdy behavior, so no additional supervision or security has been required. The staff and our Citizenâs Advisory Commission have
89 discussed putting a policy in place that would require the trip to be destination-based if this becomes a problem. â¢ Students will be rowdy whether you charge a fare or not. We get our share of inebriated students, but drivers are not complaining. We have cameras, but no special ordinances. Public Transit Agency Respondents in Resort Communities â¢ We have issues with vagrants, teens, and intoxicated per- sons and they have cost us some ridership. They usually go to the back of the bus and try not to be noticed. We have extra supervision and have installed video surveillance equipment to help with these issues. We do not have any policies that prohibit loitering or round tripping and with the current climate in local government (extremely lib- eral), I do not anticipate that we will ever implement any policies or ordinances to such effect. There is a surprising number of homeless in the area, and board members sim- ply feel sympathy for them and donât want to limit their mobility. We have a good radio system and relationship with the local police who usually respond within 5 min- utes. They have jailed a few. Three violations in one year and they are suspended from riding for one year. â¢ Our Transit Use Policies and Guideline document pro- hibits loitering and riding without a destination. We also have on-board video surveillance technology. Through a zero-tolerance policy, we effectively eject anyone who is not complying with our use policy. Our transit operators are empowered as the captain of their own ship to boot someone off at the next bus stop for violating our system policies. All they have to do is radio and tell the super- visor where they left the person. Our supervisors also have the driverâs back. Our supervisors have the difficult conversations with the stinky passengers and respond to deal with the drunks. And finally, our law enforcement is very supportive of us. We call them as the last resort. Whenever we have had to contact law enforcement, the person is charged under local ordinance for âhindering public transportation.â This is because of the disruption to our service (the bus stops in place until police respond) just to deal with the situation at this point. The hindering charge is the minimumâsometimes the person also gets disorderly conduct and other appropriate charges. â¢ Our protocol is fairly specific. The driver will attempt to re-direct the personâs behavior twice. If after two tries the person is still being belligerent or not complying, the driver will ask them to disembark. If the person will not get off the bus, then the call goes to dispatch. The supervisor and/ or police respond depending upon what the situation is. We like to get the really abusive people charged with hindering so we can get into court and ask for a restraining order to not have to serve that problem person. Our judge will only permit us to deny service to someone for a 24-hour period if we boot them off the bus. Getting into court, though, we can get the court order to deny service to the habitual prob- lem person. Our judge has done 90 days, six months, one year, and permanent suspension of bus privileges, depend- ing on what they did. Our on-board video also really helps with this prosecution. â¢ Our local riders, the low-income job access commuters, well they all help the driver because they know we will stop the bus and no one will go anywhere. So they often will use peer pressure on someone and tell them to quit because they do not want to be late for work or wherever they are going. â¢ Our town was voted as having the #1 Nightlife in North America ski areas recently. We do have alcohol related inci- dents, but because of our zero-tolerance policy and how we deal with it; the number of incidents are actually fairly low. â¢ We do not have those problems. â¢ We have installed cameras in the buses. We would have done this whether or not our system was âfree.â We do monitor the activity on the bus and do involve the police when disruptive behavior does not dissipate. We do limit passengers to a single round trip and belongings must not obstruct the use of the bus by others. This has been done by transit agency policy rather than ordinance. We have developed a strong working relationship with local law enforcement by educating them to the value that we provide and working with them to develop policies and procedures that are mutually beneficial. â¢ We have not passed any ordinances specific to this issue, although we do have a security/police presence on hand at certain times. â¢ We have very few issues here as a percentage of ridership. We train operators in the areas of safety and security. We do have standard of conduct policies and rider suspension procedures. â¢ We have been seeing homeless people riding the bus recently. For the most part they do not cause any problem. Rowdy teenagers are just a fact of life. Living in a small community odds are the driver will know the teenagers or their parents and will defuse any situation. â¢ We have no ordinances but we have had to increase secu- rity through the use of surveillance cameras. â¢ Havenât had too much trouble. Drivers are able to handle most situations and anything they canât they can directly contact a supervisor or police. â¢ Yes. We had to put security on our buses due to students misbehaving and homeless loitering. No ordinances yet . . . working on them. â¢ There are very few issues with vandalism, and we donât think it has anything to do with the fare-free policy. 22. Some people think that when no price is charged for a service, that the service has less value and treat it with less respect. Have you detected any evidence of that (increased vandalism, lack of respect to operators, row- diness, etc.)? Public Transit Agency Respondents in Rural and Small Urban Communities â¢ Yes, but we donât think it is any different for charging systems. â¢ The community is a strong advocate of public transit and there is great respect for our service. â¢ Yes. â¢ No. â¢ No. The riders generally appreciate the system with extremely high quality of service responses on surveys and respect the system. â¢ That was brought to our attention by our board and we have found the opposite. â¢ None at all. If at any point there are disruptive patrons, we simple call the local police and either have them calm down or put off the bus. â¢ In the past, the non-supporters of the fare-free policy have stated that the fare-free policy will result in more vandal- ism on the buses and other transit properties as well as increased loitering and rowdiness. We have responded that the fare box/fare structure is not an enforcement tool. Our bus operators are empowered to be the captain of their own ships. Though we do have vandalism on the bus from
90 time to time, we have much less than other systems. We have found that the youth become more appreciative and respectful of the service. This has been the result of, as an example, the fact that we do not tolerate disrespectful behavior on the bus and that they, or others they know, have been denied the service for periods of time. Once they lose the service for a while, they become very humbled and grateful once they regain their ability to ride the buses. â¢ No. On the whole we strongly believe that our riders respect and appreciate the service that we provide. Public Transit Agency Respondents in University-Dominated Communities â¢ No, we have a very respectful community and the security cameras allow us to deal with vandals quickly and effec- tively, which causes word to spread. We deal with van- dalism by immediately repairing any damage and this has kept things down. We do have vandalism like anywhere, however. â¢ Not at all. The value of our transit system to the university and community has always been strong. â¢ No. Not even one bit. We heard that argument with fares, and it was totally erroneous. â¢ We have seen no evidence of that. â¢ I donât think having a fare-free system has created a situ- ation in which the public respects the system less. There is a great deal of pride in the fact that we are the nationâs largest fare-free system and what that means toward com- munity support. There have been incidents in which our drivers have less respect for the riders. We have heard comments that âthis is a free ride, what do they expectâ when there are complaints. â¢ We have not had increased cases of vandalism. â¢ No. â¢ Categorically NO! The system is a huge source of com- munity pride based on rewards we receive and recogni- tion from the state and FTA. The system helped merge the townâgown relationship. The International Town-Gown Association is headquartered in our town, where they cover best practices. The International City Managers Associa- tion gave our system an award for best practices in creating a fare-free system. To help minimize disruption on the bus, we play music on the bus and drivers use their discretion. Public Transit Agency Respondents in Resort Communities â¢ Absolutely, we have all of those as well as an attitude among some employees that there is no real reason to strive to make the system any better. People who vandal- ize the service somehow donât realize that they are paying for it. Kids just jump on and jump off and can be rowdy. â¢ No. We do have alcohol-related incidents, but that has nothing to do with our fare status. â¢ No. (Three agencies provided this response.) â¢ The first year we implemented the âfreeâ system, the com- pliments rolled in. The second year, some members began to view the bus as an entitlement and we started receiv- ing more complaints. However, this point is a chicken/ egg issue. We also have dramatically increased our rid- ership. If, for example, we used to carry 100 passengers and had incidents/complaints from 1% of the passengers, we would deal with one passenger a day. Now carrying 1,000 passengers, we are still having the 1% problem. We now have to deal with 10 people per day. I would say that a âfreeâ system increases passengers, which in turn increases exposure. However, I would also say that hav- ing a âfreeâ system also boosts the number of passengers that are happy with the system (in the above example, you would go from 99 happy passengers to 990 happy passen- ger per day). I also think that an argument could be made that in general, there is less respect afforded to public enti- ties, regardless of the fee paid. â¢ Yes, but it is more âexternalâ perception (a marketing issue). It must be noted that staff members do experience âattitudes of entitlementâ from riders regularly. â¢ No, bus drivers in our town are well respected by the resi- dents and visitors. â¢ I do not know if the level of rowdiness and misbehavior is any more or less than if a fare was charged. â¢ No way to tell if there has been any increase since we have always been free. But like the previous question, we havenât had too many problems. We do have vandalism on our property, but I couldnât say if it is any more or less than any other transit system. â¢ Definitely. 23. Have you conducted surveys of your ridersâ pre- and post fare-free service? Do you know your passengersâ opinions on fare-free service in terms of their satisfac- tion with the quality of the experience of using the free service? Public Transit Agency Respondents in Rural and Small Urban Communities â¢ We conduct periodic satisfaction surveys and have com- pleted only two surveys specifically on rider opinion related to fare levels. Riders primarily support fare-free, but also say âif it helps save service I can pay a nominal fare.â â¢ We do surveys and the passengers all note the high quality of service provided. â¢ Vast majority appreciate it. â¢ No. Riders universally prefer free to paying a fare. Some riders believe that paying a fare might increase the financial viability of the service and indicate a willingness to pay. Some riders contribute to annual fund raising campaigns. â¢ N/A. (Two agencies provided this response.) â¢ We offer a quality service for free, how can you beat it! Riders love it! â¢ Yes, ECT conducts surveys every year. â¢ Though we have not conducted surveys on pre- and post- fare-free service, we hear continuously from our passen- gers that our system is the best and most caring system, specifically mentioning how great our bus operators are as compared to the âfare-chargingâ systems. We are told that the fare-charging systemâs bus operators are not friendly for the most part and say that they do not want to interact at all with their customers. Once again, because we do not have that fare box barrier, our operators are able to develop individual rapport with our passengers. â¢ No. However, an annual survey is completed by the major resort that includes the quality of the experience. â¢ In 2008 at least one member in 45% of all households had used the service. The survey noted that 83% considered the service excellent, while the other 17% rated it good. Public Transit Agency Respondents in University-Dominated Communities â¢ We have conducted surveys and the passengers are very supportive of the fare and the majority of the population has been in the past.
91 â¢ Yes. Questionnaires always tell us to keep it fare-free. If the service was not fare-free, passengers would seek alter- native ways to get to the university and work. Although they take it for granted, they could not survive without it is also a common response. At public hearings about changes passengers are very vocal in keeping the system fare-free. â¢ No. Almost impossible to survey the people that we would need to on this. â¢ We have conducted customer service surveys since going fare-free. There were none conducted prior to going fare- free. The customer satisfaction surveys indicate a very high degree of satisfaction with the quality of our services. â¢ We have not conducted post-change surveys. It is too early to determine this. â¢ We have done 20 surveys in the past five years. Some are class projects and others by consultants. We get consis- tently excellent ratings. Public Transit Agency Respondents in Resort Communities â¢ Customers are satisfied with the service as it is but also would like to see expansions to other areas and longer hoursâas long as it remains free. â¢ N/Aâalways fare-free. (Three agencies provided this response.) â¢ We did a survey of overall transit riders. Our changing cli- entele, made up of tourists, made it difficult to obtain valid information as they had only experienced fare or no-fare. Very few passengers had experienced both before and after. We received high marks both before and after the change, but that was in regard to overall opinion about the system. â¢ Our most recent survey was in 2009â10; 51% of people use it to go to work, 28% for recreation and social, 42% have no car available, 22% find it more convenient, 52% ride eight or more times per week, 88% say service is con- venient. Less than 1% found service unacceptable. â¢ Rider satisfaction surveys are done regularly. â¢ Sureâthey love the fact that it is fare-freeâwho wouldnât? â¢ We conducted a passenger survey last fall and received mixed messages. 22% do not want a fare and would not ride, while others say their experience on the bus has been reduced. 24. Have your operators embraced the free-fare system, or do they note any difficulties? Public Transit Agency Respondents in Rural and Small Urban Communities â¢ Drivers prefer fare-free to fares because arguments with riders occur more over paying fares. â¢ The operators are grateful to not have to deal with fares and the associated responsibilities. â¢ They have had some difficulties at times with ârowdyâ passengers. â¢ Operators and admin. staff love fare-free. It will be a big deal if and when it ends. â¢ Operators love it as they do not have to deal with being a money cop, and monitoring a fare box. â¢ Our drivers do not notice any difficulties. Many have come to work here from other agencies. The drivers came from driving school buses or driving at different fare-collecting agencies. They feel safer here since they donât have to deal with any funds. â¢ Our operators have totally embraced the fare-free system. â¢ N/A. Public Transit Agency Respondents in University-Dominated Communities â¢ Since this is all our operators know they do embrace and support a fare-free service. â¢ As operators have so many other distractions they are very pleased not having to deal with fares. â¢ They strongly desire it. â¢ The operators are fine with the fare-free system. Most of them appreciate the fact that they donât have to monitor fares. If there is a difficulty noted, it is that of vagrants riding the buses and the need to police that. â¢ Operators were wary of the conversion to fare-free before it was implemented. Staff speaks with drivers on a daily basis and while there are always concerns, drivers have been pleasantly surprised with the lack of increased inci- dents. The city already had a group pass program that allowed the local school district students to ride free by showing a valid ID. Also, for the past two years, the city allowed homeless men to travel from the Downtown Tran- sit Center to the Cold Weather Shelter on a specific route once in the morning and once in the afternoon. We feel that since these two groups were already familiar with our code of conduct, this allowed for a smooth transition to fare-free. â¢ Operators love it. Among the passengers are retirees, bank presidents, as well as faculty and students. Public Transit Agency Respondents in Resort Communities â¢ Operators are glad not to have to collect fares or police fare evasion. Operators complain about having to deal with fares on our out-of-county commuter system. Operators strongly sense the lack of respect there is for the system by the negative passengers, and it rubs off on themââwe will give you what you pay forâârunning early or late, and not really committed to excellence. â¢ Our operators love to be ambassadors for the town. They have more time to answer guest questions than they would if they had to collect fares. It makes for a more positive guest experience when they get some of that personal attention. â¢ No. â¢ The operators loved going to the âfreeâ system. They no longer had to watch for passengers sneaking on the back door, argue over fare, wait until passengers could produce their fare or pass and could focus on answering questions rather than trying to respond and query fares. There were no problems for the drivers. â¢ Our only problem has sometimes been with fare collection on our Dial-a-Ride route, which does have a nominal fee. â¢ N/A. (Three agencies provided this response.) â¢ Our drivers love the fact that they donât have to deal with money. â¢ They do not know any different because it has been fare- free since day one. â¢ With the decline of the economy, operators have all said they believe a fare is needed now. Before, operators had mixed feelings. â¢ Drivers like it. With fares, service would be slower and there would be more arguments. 25. Do you think that fare-free service has allowed your buses to stay on schedule more easily due to reduced dwell time, or does additional ridership cause the bus to operate more slowly?
92 Public Transit Agency Respondents in Rural and Small Urban Communities â¢ Fare-free portion of the system operates more efficiently than fare portion. Passengers can enter through all doors except for out-of-county riders who pay as they board. â¢ Fare-free does factor in less dwell time in designing the bus schedule. â¢ On certain routes, we have experienced delays due to the increased ridership. â¢ Increased boardings slow the bus, but boarding time per passenger is reduced. Ridership has grown to the point that current schedules could not be met if ridership was not reduced. This is a very important consideration for future planning. â¢ More easily. â¢ Free fares has allowed drivers to be timely in the schedule and the additional ridership boards faster than waiting for riders to fish around for correct fare â¢ Not really, our system is surrounded by three railroads so being on time is an issue. â¢ There is no question that fare-free really works when it comes to encouraging folks to use the bus. Our ridership has been climbing since day one, and as such, our sched- ules are always tight. Clearly, to encourage ridership, our schedules simply must stay on track. We are fortunate to say that one of our challenges is keeping up with our ever- increasing ridership and need for additional buses. Most systems would do anything to have such a problem. â¢ Yes. Additional ridership during peak times does not typi- cally cause the bus to operate more slowly. Public Transit Agency Respondents in University-Dominated Communities â¢ The fare-free service definitely allows the buses to main- tain a quicker frequency and a better schedule. We do have significant ridership during peak times, which can be prob- lematic for staying on time. â¢ Yes to both. No question it is faster without fares. We are able to use both doors and dwell time is minimized. â¢ Fares would cause us not to be on schedule. Our load counts are huge. â¢ Whatever time might have been saved regarding the need to no longer collect fares is by far offset by the delays in the schedules that are caused by the increased ridership. As a matter of fact the increasing ridership has caused schedules and their accuracy to be a major challenge for our system. â¢ The buses have been able to more easily stay on schedule, even with increased numbers of stops being made. The time for boarding has been reduced significantly. â¢ Yes, itâs a balance, but we believe it saves time overall. Public Transit Agency Respondents in Resort Communities â¢ It results in reduced dwell time. Based on our limited expe- rience with the commuter routes, we feel that fare collec- tions, even those based on smart systems, would increase dwell time significantly, especially at stations. â¢ We stay pretty reliably on schedule, except for peak traffic days/timesâbut then we are not able to move faster than anyone else is. â¢ No. (Two agencies provided this response.) â¢ The buses are more reliable because passengers can enter and exit both doors. Although the ridership has gone up, the ability to load and alight more quickly makes up for the increase in bodies. â¢ Yes, our routes are on very tight headways, so free service facilitates their on-time performance. â¢ We feel that if we did charge a fare we would not be able to keep the current schedule. Being fare-free allows us to load and unload more quickly (using both doors), by charging a fare we would only be able to use one door to enter and one door to exit. â¢ During the ârush hoursâ there is the possibility of the buses getting behind schedule, but we try to time the schedule so that there is enough âslack timeâ so that the schedule can be maintained except maybe during exceptional winter weather events. â¢ If we charged a fare it would greatly impact our ridership and schedule. â¢ Yes, staying on time is easier. â¢ Yes, and drivers say the same. 26. What are the challenges (anticipated or unanticipated) associated with your free-fare transit system? Public Transit Agency Respondents in Rural and Small Urban Communities â¢ We have some difficulty on regional routes that have high ridership for the fare-free portion displacing potential fare paying riders. We contract with local schools to do supple- mental service using school buses and cannot charge fares because of no fare collection ability on school buses. â¢ As costs rise and revenues remain flat the impression that fares would solve this funding problem is overstated. No paratransit is provided, route deviation or express route. â¢ How to deal with the expected increase in ridership, increased vandalism, and operating costs. â¢ The usual challenges of securing revenues (to pay for fore- gone fare box revenues) always remain. â¢ There are occasional accusations that transit riders are not âpaying their own wayâ like auto users. These arguments, however, ignore the external costs and implicit subsidies to automobile travel. â¢ There are really no challenges. (Two agencies provided this response.) â¢ Public misunderstanding and lack of education about the costs associated with charging/collecting fares. Some people simply refuse to accept fare-free service. We hear often, thereâs no such thing as a free lunch. In our per- spective, fare charging systems do not want the general public to know the true costs associated with collecting a fare. Clearly, in large metropolitan areas the percentage of fares is larger than smaller-sized transit systems. Our system does not need a marketing department. Fare-free markets itself. â¢ None that we can see, itâs all good. â¢ Fundingâthe tribe is the only one kicking in local match, and demand continues to escalate. We feel like we are alone in the wilderness when it comes to funding. Public Transit Agency Respondents in University-Dominated Communities â¢ We have had to work with police to keep vagrants out of our bus shelters. This is more of a problem in the summer. â¢ More demand than service and difficult to fund additional services. â¢ On this campus competition for student fees is tremendous. So much so that our fees were taken from us because they are
93 flexible monies, and we were given state money to cover all our salaries and replace the student fee amount. We are now faced with increased demands and with our present model can only adjust parking fees. We will need a new revenue source to go forward (my this yearâs project!!). â¢ I donât really see any. â¢ The number of riders we are transporting continues to be a challenge. â¢ There were a number of unintended consequences that came from going fare-free. 1. The significant increase in ridership takes a toll on the maintenance of the vehicles. With an aging fleet and far more usage, many more stops, the maintenance of the vehicles suffered. If we had to do it over again we would probably suggest hiring additional mechanics to deal with the wear and tear. 2. SchedulesâThe significant increase in ridership has caused schedules to be inaccurate and our on-time per- formance has suffered. Working on improving sched- ule accuracy is a major challenge for the system. 3. One of the unintended consequences of the fare-free system is the fact that the demand response system is then free. That combined with lax qualification proce- dures led to significant cost increases. In order to con- trol those costs, we have gotten much more diligent on making sure persons are certified via ADA regulations. â¢ While increased ridership has not yet caused passengers to be turned away due to full buses, it is a concern we continue to monitor. â¢ Havenât really had the same problems others have had, except on a few lines where capacity was an issue. We did buy spare buses once from as far away as Fargo, North Dakota. Public Transit Agency Respondents in Resort Communities â¢ Being fare-free tends to attract an element of ridership that is troublesomeâvagrants, intoxicated persons, drug addicts, and school students (teens) who have been sus- pended from school transportation for disciplinary rea- sons, and this behavior generally carries on to our buses. â¢ The biggest challenge is sustainability. Without a dedi- cated revenue stream, we are a big tap on the general fund and when revenues decline, we have to make hard choices about what services to scale back. A dedicated revenue stream needs to be established so that transit is not such a large drain on the general fund. â¢ Continued funding and the belief of the community that they determine route times, etc. â¢ Because fares no longer have a direct correlation with the budget, budgets are expected to be reduced but ridership is increasing. If the fare was more than some people would pay, the ridership would decrease and service could also be cut back. If demand went up, subsequent fare revenue would allow for expansion. â¢ Funding is always an issue. (Two systems provided this response.) â¢ Reduced services or operational shut down due to lack of funding. â¢ For us, being dependant on the townâs sales tax for rev- enue. If we have a major drop in sales tax we must either reduce service or consider charging a fare. â¢ Increasing system capacity as ridership continues to grow. â¢ Funding and growth planning are always issues. 27. If ridership increased after the institution of fare-free service, have you done surveys of passengers that would help you determine if the increased ridership has been due to the same passengers riding more, or did the free fares attract truly new riders? Public Transit Agency Respondents in Rural and Small Urban Communities â¢ No. (Seven agencies provided this response.) â¢ A combination of both has occurred. â¢ Surveys have not asked passenger if they ride more because it is free. However, ridership doubled since fare- free service was provided. â¢ The free fares attracted significantly more riders. Public Transit Agency Respondents in University-Dominated Communities â¢ There is no question there are new riders. There are only approximately 8,000 non-university residents in Macomb. We have gone from 100,000 to 300,000 non-university riders (out of 1.75 million overall) in that time. â¢ While there are persons utilizing the system more, there are significantly more new riders in the system. â¢ We have not yet conducted those types of surveys. Anec- dotally, we have seen and heard from new riders and we know previous riders are using the system more. â¢ N/A. Public Transit Agency Respondents in Resort Communities â¢ N/A. (Eight agencies provided this response.) â¢ We have steadily gained ridership over the 14 years since the system was incepted. We believe people return to our community as their choice destination because of the con- venience and positive experience. â¢ Because there are constantly changing tourists here, a direct correlation cannot be found. There has also been increased development in areas served by the bus. That being said, a doubling of ridership over 10 years dem- onstrates that the bus service is popular and the âfreeâ aspect is one of the strongest points. 28. Did you have to lay off any employees as a result of going fare-free (such as fare box technicians or money coun- ters), or were they reassigned to other positions? Public Transit Agency Respondents in Rural and Small Urban Communities â¢ No. (Eight agencies provided this response.) â¢ No. We have added one admin. position and additional drivers for added ADA service. We have three times as many riders as before fare-free with no changes in admin. positions. â¢ We did not have these employees, therefore there were no lay-offs. Public Transit Agency Respondents in University-Dominated Communities â¢ No, it allowed us to reassign tasks. â¢ No. (Four agencies provided this response.) â¢ No employee positions were reduced. One employee was required to take farebox revenue to our financial institution, a task that took only a few hours per week. This employee was assigned additional non-transit duties to complete his
94 work schedule. The cityâs Utility Billing division previ- ously sold passes to the community. Because one of our connections to another town is still fare-based, Utility Bill- ing continues to sell those passes. Fare box repairs were done by the cityâs maintenance contractor, First Student. They continue to do all other bus repairs. Public Transit Agency Respondents in Resort Communities â¢ N/A. (Nine agencies provided this response.) â¢ We did not lay any people off, but we were at the cross- roads of having to dramatically increase our capital, oper- ating, and staff levels in order to keep operating with a fare. The âfreeâ system let us not have to expand costs while expanding service. 29. What was the internal business case for operating fare-free? Public Transit Agency Respondents in Rural and Small Urban Communities â¢ Saving costs associated with fare collection, accounting, auditing, and liability. â¢ There are reduced administrative costs. â¢ It was very simple and informal. Two sponsors commit- ted to contributing a flat amount for a two-year period to replace fare box receipts. They continue to provide that level of support today and contributions from other sources such as donations have provided additional revenues. â¢ Cost of collection exceeds revenue. Also, farebox revenue comes off of the âoperating deficitâ and does not qualify 100% as the local match for grants. â¢ Less money controls, passenger safety, drivers could be more attentive to their job of driving. â¢ Charging a fare is not cost-effective. Charging a fare creates a barrier between the rider and the bus operator. Charging a fare is not user-friendly. Charging fares creates safety issues; people argue about the fare with the opera- tor, and there are robberies and embezzlement exposures because of the fare system. Charging a fare reduces rider- ship. Charging a fare truly is a very poor business model if the goal is to promote the use of public transportation and to assist in fixing the transportation crisis our nation is facing. â¢ A budget was built to provide service with available income, without fares. Plus we had substantial local con- tributions that eliminated the need for fares. â¢ Charging fares would cost more money than it was worth and the income would reduce our federal grant. Public Transit Agency Respondents in University-Dominated Communities â¢ Our case is the same externally and internally, which is meeting the boardâs end goals: offer innovative services that reduce dependency on the automobile. We believe that operating fare-free is one way to achieve this objec- tive. Additionally we study the fare-free issue in our short-range transit plan every five years. In the last plan completed in 2006 it was suggested that we could lose up to 50% of its ridership if a fare were charged at a level to cover costs to impose the fare. Also in that study a phone survey was conducted and the main reason people arenât using our services is because of inconvenience. As we have studied the fare issue we believe that imposing a fare would make things even more inconvenient. We would have to increase our headways for fare collection, deter- mine fare zones, create transfers, and the list goes on and on. We believe the increased headways are the greatest inconvenience to our customers. These are the primary reasons of why we remain fare-free. â¢ Getting a check four times a year from the city beats count- ing change every day. â¢ Less costly and maximum efficiency. â¢ The best case for internal reasons for going fare-free was the understanding that the administration of fare programs, passes, and prepaid passes would be eliminated. Also, there was an expectation that state and federal funding would increase. The elimination of the need for drivers to monitor fares or to have fare policies is also a benefit. â¢ Our small urban system used revenues from 5307 and JARC 5316 through a state grant, fares (including group- pass programs), a direct contribution from the university, local property taxes (the General Fund share), rental of space on the buses for advertising, and revenue from the State Business Energy Tax Credit program. The transit fee has replaced revenues from fares and the General Fund contribution. â¢ Bottom line is the economics of free-fare, social benefits to the community, and a model to other communities. We figured that 30% of our operating costs were due to fare collection and extra dwell time. Since fare recovery throughout our state was usually 20%, we saw no sense in collecting fares. Public Transit Agency Respondents in Resort Communities â¢ Our elected officials felt that our taxpayers had âpre-paidâ for their service by voting for our levies in 1990 and 2001. â¢ The benefits of mitigating traffic congestion, reducing pol- lution, enhancing guest experience (which is important for market share and economic stability), and how to promote an environment to attract low-income workers to feed the economic engine. â¢ Our community goal of keeping traffic at 1993 levels is always our base case. â¢ Politics. â¢ N/A. â¢ For the many reasons already listed. â¢ Increase ridership and implement TDM measures. 30. What was the external business case for operating fare-free? Public Transit Agency Respondents in Rural and Small Urban Communities â¢ Better customer service. â¢ There is a financial benefit to the passenger. â¢ In simple terms, given the cost of a fare system, only a small percentage of costs can be covered through fares. Attracting riders that would otherwise drive contributes to cleaner air, reduces parking demand and traffic. â¢ Federal and state operating subsidies make fares less necessary. â¢ Response to the potential ridership that they are not paying twice for a bus ride by paying a fare and being taxed. â¢ Our mission statement says it all: âThe mission is to pro- vide a package of ridesharing services which emphasize rider use, safety and satisfaction, and results in increased
95 mobility opportunities, less dependence on the automobile, decreased traffic congestion, and improved air quality for all people in the service area, riders and non-riders alike.â â¢ Contributions were solicited from area businesses to allow fare-free service. The fare-free image, the welcomeness to ride our system, helped us tremendously during our start- up years. â¢ The casino bus had always operated fare-free setting a precedent, plus the people they were carrying were gen- erally students, service employees, and seniors, all low income. Public Transit Agency Respondents in University-Dominated Communities â¢ It made our system more universal and less university- oriented. â¢ It was a university decision. â¢ Externally the case for going fare-free was to provide more accessibility throughout the community to activi- ties to show true community-wide support of transit. From the university perspective they could increase the cost of employee parking on campus and give persons an option to move to a park-and-ride lot. â¢ Same as last answer. (Three agencies provided this response.) â¢ Bottom line is the economics of free-fare, social benefits to community, and a model to other communities Public Transit Agency Respondents in Resort Communities â¢ Tourism. â¢ The benefits of mitigating traffic congestion, reducing pol- lution, enhancing guest experience (which is important for market share and economic stability), and how to promote an environment to attract low-income workers to feed the economic engine. â¢ Our agency is one of many departments vying for the same general fund dollars. By not having to increase transit bud- gets while expanding service allowed monies to be freed up for other departments. â¢ Our community goal of keeping traffic at 1993 levels is always our base case. â¢ Politics. â¢ N/A. â¢ Good visitor experience and exposure for the city and county. â¢ Increase ridership and implement TDM measures. 31. Assuming ridership increased, what types of changes did the transit agency or other entities make concurrently and post-fare elimination that might have also affected total ridership (e.g., reduced or higher-priced parking, new employment generators, increases in university enrollment, a sharp increase in gas prices, etc.)? Public Transit Agency Respondents in Rural and Small Urban Communities â¢ Higher costs to operate personal cars were the most signifi- cant factor in increased ridership. â¢ None. (Three agencies provided this response.) â¢ Gas price increases played a major part (along with the free rides). â¢ Originally a fare-free zone was established without a dra- matic increase in ridership. Ridership began to increase as service planning improved with more frequent and direct service and then rose more sharply as system-wide fare- free was implemented. I like to be quoted as saying, âYou canât give away lousy transit service.â â¢ While we have always operated fare-free, ridership grows disproportionally during times of increases in gas prices and declines in economic activity. This implies a high sensitivity to the price of fuel and personal income to bus ridership. â¢ The overall mobility for education, recreation, and medi- cal appointments. â¢ Basically, this is not applicable. However, I would like to add that we have developed Transit Parks for users of the system. We do not charge any fare for vehicles to park in these areas. Public Transit Agency Respondents in University-Dominated Communities â¢ We streamlined some routes to eliminate a number of stops, and increased hours of service almost every year. â¢ None. (Two agencies provided this response.) â¢ As previously mentioned, a 20% service increase was implemented at the same time we went fare-free. Also, the universityâs commitment to controlling parking on campus was developed. â¢ Coincidentally, the parking control for our customer free zone in downtown went from an unlimited time to 3-hour limit. This was done totally separately from the transit fare change and was not done to impact transit use. This may have had some impact on transit use, but not likely. â¢ Not much has changed, student enrollment has remained pretty steady and new riders come from outside campus. Public Transit Agency Respondents in Resort Communities â¢ N/A. (Nine agencies provided this response.) â¢ At the time, nothing else changed. Over the years, infill has reduced parking, remote parking has been increased, and gas prices have increased. Ridership has also increased and it is my opinion that the âfreeâ bus has contributed to this. 32. If the free-fare system was discontinued, why and how was it discontinued? Public Transit Agency Respondents in Rural and Small Urban Communities â¢ Trips to out-of-county destinations were changed to a fare to enable passage of a local tax increase. â¢ N/A. (Eight agencies provided this response.) â¢ Fare-free is still in effect, but with stagnating revenues, increasing fuel costs, and ADA costs, combined with stag- nating or shrinking revenues from local, state, and federal governments, as well as soaring demand due to rising fuel prices, fares may become necessary. To that end we are exploring high tech fare systems such as contactless card readers and other technologies that will minimize boarding times and provide maximum opportunity for third-party billings. Public Transit Agency Respondents in University-Dominated Communities â¢ We would have to make a substantial investment in an automatic fare system, which we are not likely to do. â¢ N/A. (Six agencies provided this response.)
96 Public Transit Agency Respondents in Resort Communities â¢ N/A. (Ten agencies provided this response.) 33. What evaluations were conducted (if any) after the fare- free system was implemented (or discontinued)? Can you provide a copy of any white papers or analyses that were written? Public Transit Agency Respondents in Rural and Small Urban Communities â¢ No reports available. Fare revenue on out-of-county trips very effective and out-of-county trips are increasing. Some members of our board may see this as justification for charging system-wide fares. â¢ N/A. (Seven agencies provided this response.) â¢ We have conducted multiple evaluations and surveys. The system is a raving success. Public Transit Agency Respondents in University-Dominated Communities â¢ There were no formal evaluations of the fare-free system after it was begun. The ridership increases were so sig- nificant that the community has solidly supported going fare-free without any kind of analysis. â¢ Surveys done each year, results are excellent. Public Transit Agency Respondents in Resort Communities â¢ N/A. (Seven agencies provided this response.) â¢ We have not done any specific studies, beyond the normal long-range transit plan, because the system operates well. â¢ On city website under transportation. 34. Have you ever had significant complaints from any ele- ment of the community that led to reconsideration of the fare-free system? For instance, some people say if the service isnât important enough for the users to pay for, why should others pay? Public Transit Agency Respondents in Rural and Small Urban Communities â¢ Many comments pro and against. Complaints declined sig- nificantly when the decision was made to charge for out- of-county trips. â¢ No. (Four agencies provided this response.) â¢ Yes. This has to be defended every year before local city/ town councils. â¢ Not a significant number. There are occasional accusations that transit riders are not âpaying their own wayâ like auto users. These arguments, however, ignore the external costs and implicit subsidies to automobile travel. â¢ Have not had negative feedback, riders and potential riders are happy it is free, are pleased with the safety and secu- rity the driver provides, and are glad to have this type of regional service, which they never had before. â¢ When a measure has been placed on the ballot to increase sales tax (5 times) to support our system, weâve had members of our community speak out against fare-free service delivery. The letters to the editor during those times have been numerous. Interestingly, when a nega- tive, anti-fare-free letter would get published, multiple letters would be sent in to respond to those negative let- ters that are supportive. â¢ No, we keep getting requests for more service and it has grown dramatically. Public Transit Agency Respondents in University-Dominated Communities â¢ Our system is funded locally by a local option sales tax passed by voters. There are a vocal minority of non-riders that state that a fare should be charged to make sure the rid- ers are paying their fair share. This same group of people, however, does not believe that roads should be tolled. â¢ N/A. â¢ At one point, there was a faction that thought we should charge based on the idea of value. That has totally dissipated. â¢ We have had some people comment they would pay fares to keep the bums off. â¢ We fought this battle with our city council and it continues to come up once in a while. We did not raise a single dollar of taxes to fund our service so the argument is moot. â¢ We have not received significant complaints from the community that would lead to reconsideration of the fare- free system. â¢ No significant complaints have been received. â¢ Has never happened; to the contrary, we are a subject of community pride. Public Transit Agency Respondents in Resort Communities â¢ The only significant complaints we receive are with regard to vagrants, drug addicts, and intoxicated persons that fre- quent our service. Our assumption is that most if not all of these types of persons would stop riding if they had to pay for our services. â¢ No. We have scaled back our summer operations in recent years to react to the economy. The per-passenger cost in the summer was out of line and it was an easy budget cut to make. â¢ No. (Four agencies provided this response.) â¢ With tightening budgets, the desire to make transit pay for itself continues to be brought up. The argument is over- simplified to say, âIf you have 1 million passengers and you charge them a dollar each, you will generate 1 million dollars.â The points that need to be educated are several. First, there will be a reduction in passengers. I do not know of a model that shows what that reduction would be, but it would be significant. Secondly, there is a cost to pur- chasing and installing fare boxes and the new technologies requested by the public are expensive. Outfitting a fleet would be very costly. Staffing levels would have to be increased for money handling. Staff and capital would also have to be increased to provide more vehicles to account for the increase in service time. When put in perspective, although counterintuitive, eliminating the âfreeâ system would actually cost more. â¢ When weâve had to institute service cuts, there has some- times been an outcry for a âspare changeâ service. I think I invented this term! Weâve been asked to allow riders to donate to the bus system with their spare change rather than reduce service. Weâve also been asked to charge nom- inal fees such as a quarter. â¢ Similar conversations are ongoing, but have not yet cre- ated a ground swell for change. â¢ Majority of the community believes the system is vital for the community.
Abbreviations used without definitions in TRB publications: AAAE American Association of Airport Executives AASHO American Association of State Highway Officials AASHTO American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials ACIâNA Airports Council InternationalâNorth America ACRP Airport Cooperative Research Program ADA Americans with Disabilities Act APTA American Public Transportation Association ASCE American Society of Civil Engineers ASME American Society of Mechanical Engineers ASTM American Society for Testing and Materials ATA Air Transport Association ATA American Trucking Associations CTAA Community Transportation Association of America CTBSSP Commercial Truck and Bus Safety Synthesis Program DHS Department of Homeland Security DOE Department of Energy EPA Environmental Protection Agency FAA Federal Aviation Administration FHWA Federal Highway Administration FMCSA Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration FRA Federal Railroad Administration FTA Federal Transit Administration IEEE Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers ISTEA Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 ITE Institute of Transportation Engineers NASA National Aeronautics and Space Administration NASAO National Association of State Aviation Officials NCFRP National Cooperative Freight Research Program NCHRP National Cooperative Highway Research Program NHTSA National Highway Traffic Safety Administration NTSB National Transportation Safety Board SAE Society of Automotive Engineers SAFETEA-LU Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (2005) TCRP Transit Cooperative Research Program TEA-21 Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (1998) TRB Transportation Research Board TSA Transportation Security Administration U.S.DOT United States Department of Transportation