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53 The following questionnaire was sent to 45 public transit agencies in the United States, two of which no longer provide fare-free tran- sit and four of which were found to not meet the criteria of fare-free public transit. Questionnaire/interview Questionsâ the implementation and outcomes of fare-free transit systemsâ tcrp project sa-26 1. Why was a fare-free system considered or implemented versus one with fares? 2. Who was the major initiator of this policy (policy board, general manager, other elected officials, advisory board, community groups, etc.)? 3. Did you consider a nominal fare (e.g., $.25 or $.50) instead of charging no fare? If so, what were your reasons for not doing that? 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 commu- nity (e.g., conservative, progressive, environmentally ori- ented, etc.)? Was that environment significant in deciding to go fare-free? 5. Was there a major generator of riders from a single source in the community prior to establishing a fare-free service, such as a university or major employer, that might have made fare-free a logical choice based on their ridership or willing- ness to help pay for the service? 6. If fare-free policies were considered but not implemented, what were the reasons for not implementing? 7. If you had a fare prior to instituting fare-free service, what percentage of total agency revenue was generated by the fare box? 8. Was a cost-benefit analysis done, or a âpros and consâ anal- ysis (e.g., comparing the cost savings of eliminating fare box repair and accounting for revenue versus the expense of lost revenue, additional operating and maintenance expenses to handle increased ridership, or additional security expenses to deal with potential issues with new riders if fare-free service was established)? 9. Did the agency make a fairly accurate estimate or projection of the impacts on total ridership and any new expenses that would be incurred? 10. Were there any technical or political (or any other) imple- mentation issues to deal with? 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)? 12. What is/was the funding environment for transit in the com- munity? What are the funding sources for the transit system and did those sources change with the institution of fare- free service? 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? 14. What was the nature of the ridership before and after a fare- free system was established (age, income, racial composi- tion, students, etc.)? What changes did you notice, if any? appendix a Questionnaire/survey instrument 15. What were the intended/expected and actual outcomes of offering fare-free service? 16. Did the implementation of fare-free service impact parking 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)? 17. Did fare-free transit cause any increase in development or an influx of residents or employment or change in property values? 18. Can you attribute any advances in âlivabilityâ to the fare- free service? 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.)? 20. What have been the benefits (intentional or unintended) of a fare-free system? 21. A typical concern with free-fare systems is that there might be rowdy teenagers or vagrants who use the buses to the dis- comfort 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 ordi- nances did you pass and can you share that ordinance? 22. Some people think that when no price is charged for a ser- vice, 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, rowdiness, etc.)? 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 satisfaction with the quality of the experience of using the free service? 24. Have your operators embraced the free-fare system, or do they note any difficulties? 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? 26. What are the challenges (anticipated or unanticipated) asso- ciated with your free-fare transit system? 27. If ridership increased after the institution of fare-free ser- vice, 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? 28. Did you have to lay off any employees as a result of going fare-free (such as fare box technicians or money counters), or were they reassigned to other positions? 29. What was the internal business case for operating fare-free? 30. What was the external business case for operating fare-free? 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 gen- erators, increases in university enrollment, a sharp increase in gas prices, etc.)? 32. If the free-fare system was discontinued, why and how was it discontinued? 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?
54 34. Have you ever had significant complaints from any element of the community that led to reconsideration of the fare- free system? For instance, some people say if the service is not important enough for the users to pay for, why should others pay? Can you also provide some fundamental statistics about your agency and your community? Population of the service area: _______ Number and type of buses in your system: _______ Annual ridership: _______ Average daily ridership: _______ Passengers per hour: _______ Passengers per mile: _______ Paratransit service provided (and is it also free?): _______