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Fare-Free Transit Evaluation Framework (2022)

Chapter:Front Matter

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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Fare-Free Transit Evaluation Framework. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26732.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Fare-Free Transit Evaluation Framework. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26732.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Fare-Free Transit Evaluation Framework. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26732.
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© 2022 by the National Academy of Sciences. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and the graphical logo are trademarks of the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS The research for this document was conducted through one or more programs administered by the Cooperative Research Programs (CRP) of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine: • Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) research is sponsored by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). • Behavioral Traffic Safety Cooperative Research Program (BTSCRP) research is sponsored by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). • National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) research is sponsored by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). • Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) research is sponsored by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) in cooperation with the Transit Development Corporation. COPYRIGHT INFORMATION Authors herein are responsible for the authenticity of their materials and for obtaining written permissions from publishers or persons who own the copyright to any previously published or copyrighted material used herein. Cooperative Research Programs (CRP) grants permission to reproduce material in this publication for classroom and not-for-profit purposes. Permission is given with the understanding that none of the material will be used to imply endorsement by TRB and any of its program sponsors of a particular product, method, or practice. It is expected that those reproducing the material in this document for educational and not-for-profit uses will give appropriate acknowledgment of the source of any reprinted or reproduced material. For other uses of the material, request permission from CRP. DISCLAIMER To facilitate more timely dissemination of research findings, this pre-publication document is taken directly from the submission of the research agency. The material has not been edited by TRB. The opinions and conclusions expressed or implied in this document are those of the researchers who performed the research. They are not necessarily those of the Transportation Research Board; the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; or the program sponsors. The Transportation Research Board does not develop, issue, or publish standards or specifications. The Transportation Research Board manages applied research projects which provide the scientific foundation that may be used by Transportation Research Board sponsors, industry associations, or other organizations as the basis for revised practices, procedures, or specifications. The Transportation Research Board, the National Academies, and the sponsors of the Transit Cooperative Research Program do not endorse products or manufacturers. Trade or manufacturers’ names appear herein solely because they are considered essential to the object of the report. This pre-publication document IS NOT an official publication of the Cooperative Research Programs; the Transportation Research Board; or the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Recommended citation: Kirschen, M., and A. Pettine. 2022. Fare-Free Transit Evaluation Framework. Pre-publication draft of TCRP Research Report 237. Transportation Research Board, Washington, D.C.

Table of Contents Summary ............................................................................................................................... S-1 1 Introduction .................................................................................................................. 1-1 What is fare-free transit? .......................................................................................................................... 1-2 Why do most transit agencies collect fares? .................................................................................... 1-3 Why are some transit agencies looking at fare-free transit? ...................................................... 1-4 How can transit agencies evaluate if fare-free transit is right for their community? ........ 1-6 2 Fare-Free Transit Evaluation Framework ................................................................... 2-1 Get Organized ............................................................................................................................................... 2-4 Make a Plan ................................................................................................................................................ 2-18 Evaluate ........................................................................................................................................................ 2-28 3 Fare-Free Transit Evaluation in Practice ..................................................................... 3-1 What research has been conducted on fare-free transit evaluation? ..................................... 3-1 What information informed this report’s evaluation framework? ............................................ 3-2 What is the state of the practice?.......................................................................................................... 3-4 4 Transit Agency Case Studies........................................................................................ 4-1 Case Study Context ..................................................................................................................................... 4-1 Full Fare-Free Transit Agencies .............................................................................................................. 4-6 Partial Fare-Free Transit Agencies ...................................................................................................... 4-27 Not Fare-Free Transit Agencies ........................................................................................................... 4-48 5 Opportunities for Future Research ............................................................................. 5-1 Impacts of Fare-Free Transit .................................................................................................................... 5-1 Funding for Fare-Free Transit ................................................................................................................. 5-2 Fare Collection Cost and Revenue Reporting ................................................................................... 5-3 Appendix A: Transit Agency Survey Methodology and Findings .................................... A-1 Appendix B: Transit Agency Survey Instruments ............................................................. B-1 Appendix C: Community Representative Interview Methodology and Findings ......... C-1 Appendix D: References .....................................................................................................D-1

Fare-Free Transit Evaluation Framework ii Table of Figures Figure S-1 Evaluation Framework Steps ................................................................................................. S-2 Figure S-2 Fare-Free Transit Impact Themes ........................................................................................ S-3 Figure S-3 Summary of Fare-Free Transit Impacts ............................................................................. S-4 Figure S-4 Case Study Transit Agencies by Service Area and Agency Type ............................. S-6 Figure 1-1 Framework for Program Evaluation in Public Health ................................................... 1-7 Figure 1-2 Fare-Free Transit Evaluation Framework .......................................................................... 1-8 Figure 2-1 Evaluation Framework Steps ................................................................................................. 2-1 Figure 2-2 Example Framework Questions ............................................................................................ 2-2 Figure 2-3 Evaluation Framework Callout Types ................................................................................. 2-3 Figure 2-4 Fare-Free Pilot Evaluation Results - MBTA ...................................................................... 2-5 Figure 2-5 Annual Fare Collection Costs – Sun Tran ....................................................................... 2-13 Figure 2-6 Operational Peer Comparison – Ride On ...................................................................... 2-15 Figure 2-7 Example Opportunities and Challenges ......................................................................... 2-16 Figure 2-8 Example Goals and Objectives .......................................................................................... 2-19 Figure 2-9 Fare Study Goals and Objectives – Iowa City Transit ................................................ 2-20 Figure 2-10 Example Performance Measures ....................................................................................... 2-21 Figure 2-11 Example Selection Criteria ................................................................................................... 2-24 Figure 2-12 High-Level Evaluation of Fare Program Options and Final Fare-Free and Reduced-Fare Scenarios - DASH ...................................................................................... 2-27 Figure 2-13 Example Analysis Process .................................................................................................... 2-29 Figure 2-14 Estimated Annual Change in Operating Costs – Link Transit ................................ 2-30 Figure 2-15 Alternatives Comparison – Ride On ................................................................................ 2-32 Figure 2-16 Estimated Annual Operating Cost Impact (in Millions) – Houston METRO ..... 2-34 Figure 3-1 Table of Transit Agencies Surveyed .................................................................................... 3-3 Figure 3-2 Fare-Free Transit Impact Themes ........................................................................................ 3-5 Figure 3-3 Summary of Fare-Free Transit Impacts ............................................................................. 3-6 Figure 3-4 Mountain Line Ridership ......................................................................................................... 3-8 Figure 3-5 Link Transit STIC Funding Metrics and Thresholds, 2019........................................ 3-10 Figure 3-6 ART Subsidy per Boarding .................................................................................................. 3-11 Figure 3-7 Estimated Spending in Top Four Categories ............................................................... 3-13 Figure 4-1 Case Study Transit Agencies by Service Area and Agency Type ............................. 4-4 Figure 4-2 Map of Case Study Transit Agencies by Fare-Free Classification ........................... 4-5 Figure A-1 Surveyed Transit Agency by Fare-Free Classification and Response Type ......... A-4 Figure A-2 Map of Surveyed Transit Agencies by Fare-Free Classification and Response Type................................................................................................................................................ A-7 Figure A-3 Operating Characteristics of Transit Agency Survey Respondents ....................... A-8 Figure A-4 Reasons for Implementing Fare-Free Transit ............................................................... A-13 Figure A-5 Funding Sources for Lost Fare Revenue ........................................................................ A-16

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Recognizing the strong recent interest throughout the United States to consider and implement fare-free transit, decision-making tools are needed to help public transit practitioners evaluate fare-free transit.

The TRB Transit Cooperative Research Program's pre-publication draft of TCRP Research Report 237: Fare-Free Transit Evaluation Framework presents a framework that can be used by public transit practitioners to evaluate the potential benefits, costs, and trade-offs of implementing fare-free transit.

Supplemental to the report is an Infographic.

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