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.
SUMMARY Fare-Free Transit Evaluation Framework Despite strong recent interest from transit agencies, there is no known research that presents a framework for transit practitioners to evaluate fare-free transit. This report presents a framework that can be used by transit practitioners to evaluate the potential benefits, costs, and trade-offs of implementing fare-free transit. The framework may also be used by community partners, including staff from related organizations, for instance, municipal departments, metropolitan planning orga- nizations (MPOs), or neighboring transit agencies. This framework was informed by a transit agency survey and interviews with staff from transit agencies, community organizations, and transit advocacy groups. The evaluation framework can help transit agencies get organized, make a plan, and evaluate fare-free transit (ExhibitÂ S-1). By following the framework, practitioners can fully understand the potential costs, benefits, and trade-offs at their transit agencies. Along with the frameworkâs 10 steps, the research team shares examples from transit agencies that have evaluated fare-free transit in their community to show how the framework looks in practice, as well as identify opportunities to engage relevant stakeholders and the public. Defining Fare-Free Transit In this report, full and partial fare-free transit are defined as follows: â¢ Full fare-free transit: when a transit agency does not collect fares from any riders. â¢ Partial fare-free transit: when a transit agency does not collect fares from specific groups of riders, on certain routes or transit services, during certain times, or in defined areas. Both full and partial fare-free transit can be implemented as policies or programs. A fare-free policy represents a decision made by a transit agency or governing body to not collect fares from some or all riders. A fare-free program is a planned set of actions undertaken by a transit agency to achieve transit agency or other local goals, such as a program to provide fare-free transit to riders with incomes below a defined threshold or a pilot program to test the impacts of fare-free transit. While fare-free transit exists on a spectrum of fare policies and programs that includes discounted fares, this report focuses solely on the evaluation of fare-free transit alternatives. Fare-Free Transit Evaluation in Practice To understand the current state of the practice of fare-free transit evaluation and inform the development of the evaluation framework for this report, the research team completed a transit agency survey and interviews with staff from transit agencies, community organizations, and transit advocacy groups. This research builds on the findings in TCRP Synthesis 101: Implemen- tation and Outcomes of Fare-Free Transit Systems (Volinski 2012) and a literature and media 1Â Â
2 Fare-Free Transit Evaluation Framework Get Organized Make a Plan Evaluate Step 1: Set the context Step 5: Set evaluation Step 9: Estimate Step 2: Assess the goals and objectives impacts existing conditions Step 6: Determine Step 10: Select Step 3: Review peer performance measures preferred alternative transit agencies Step 7: Establish Step 4: Identify selection criteria opportunities and Step 8: Select fare-free challenges transit alternatives Stakeholder and Public Outreach Exhibit S-1. Evaluation framework steps. review of academic research, planning work, and journalism on fare-free transit. Through this review, the research team identified two main topics: â¢ Fare-free transit impacts: The measured and anticipated effects of fare-free transit for transit agencies and the communities they serve. â¢ Fare-free transit evaluations: How transit agencies have evaluated the impacts and long- term success of fare-free transit in their communities. Fare-Free Transit Impacts The research team identified four main themes in the fare-free transit impacts that transit agencies across the country are focused on: access, mobility, and equity; operational efficiency; financial health; and community impacts (ExhibitÂ S-2). ExhibitÂ S-3 summarizes the measured and anticipated impacts of fare-free transit. More detail on each of these impacts can be found in ChapterÂ 2. Fare-Free Transit Evaluations There are two primary time periods in which fare-free transit can be evaluated: before and after implementation. These two evaluation types can generally be described as follows: â¢ Feasibility Evaluation: Conducted before fare-free transit is implemented to see if it is fea- sible for a transit agency. This type of evaluation typically focuses on estimating the likely benefits and costs of one or more types of fare-free transit. â¢ Post-Implementation Evaluation: Conducted after fare-free transit has been implemented. This evaluation type usually analyzes how successful fare-free transit has been for the transit agency, including measured benefits and costs. Using this information, transit agencies may recommend continuing, modifying, or stopping the fare-free transit implementation. The evaluation framework presented in this report focuses on the first type of evaluation: feasibility evaluation, as well as providing high-level guidance for what transit practitioners
Summary 3Â Â Access, Mobility, & Operational Financial Community Equity Efficiency Health Impacts How fare-free transit How fare-free transit How fare-free transit How fare-free transit impacts transit access, impacts a transit impacts a transit impacts the communityâs mobility, and equity agencyâs ability to agencyâs short- and long- economy, sustainability, provide and operate term financial well-being and congestion quality service Exhibit S-2. Fare-free transit impact themes. Themes Impacts Access, Benefits Mobility, & Increases transit ridership Equity Reduces financial barriers to accessing transit Mitigates impacts of historically inequitable transportation policy Increases focus on operating service over collecting revenue Eliminates fare-related policing Expands access to those who do not benefit from discounted programs provided through employers Costs May constrain funding that could be spent on service May lead to a more regressive source of funding (e.g., sales tax) Operational Benefits Efficiency Increases service productivity May decrease dwell times, increasing speed and reliability Eliminates fare-related disputes Eliminates fare collection equipment and attendant labor requirements (e.g., operations and maintenance) Costs May lead to overcapacity on some trips and require additional service May increase paratransit demand and require additional service May restrict a transit agencyâs ability to collect ridership data May increase the presence of disruptive passengers and result in additional security costs and impacts Financial Health Benefits Reduces or eliminates fare collection costs May reduce overall cost per passenger trip May expand transit agency eligibility for new funding sources Costs Eliminates farebox revenue, which may be considerable for many transit agencies Likely to require new revenue sources, such as taxes, municipal contributions, or private partnerships Community Benefits Impacts May reduce traffic congestion May reduce local pollution and greenhouse gas emissions May catalyze development and/or increase land value May increase community pride Allows riders to spend money in the community that they would have spent on transit Costs May increase public criticism of transit agency and its fare policy Note: Impacts noted in this chart may vary by type of fare-free transit. For example, a partially fare-free transit system may not eliminate farebox equipment, thus the transit agency would not benefit from a reduction in operating and maintenance costs associated with fare collection equipment. Exhibit S-3. Summary of fare-free transit impacts.
4 Fare-Free Transit Evaluation Framework should consider when implementing and evaluating fare-free transit. ChapterÂ 3 provides a more detailed description of how both feasibility and post-implementation evaluations have been conducted by U.S. transit agencies, as well as a description of common elements included in both types of evaluations. Transit Agency Case Studies To inform the development of the evaluation framework and provide more detailed examples of how fare-free transit has been evaluated at transit agencies of different sizes across the United States, the research team developed 23 case studies, which are in ChapterÂ 4 of this report. Transit agencies looking to evaluate fare-free transit in their community can identify similar systems and learn about their experiences. The case study transit agencies, agency type, and fare-free status can be seen in ExhibitÂ S-4. Transit Agency Service Area Agency Type Full Fare-Free Area Regional Transit St. Lucie County, FL Small Urban/Rural Cache Valley Transit District Cache Valley, UT Small Urban/Rural Corvallis Transit System Corvallis, OR University Community DASH Alexandria, VA Urban Local GoLine Indian River County, FL Small Urban/Rural Greater Richmond Transit Company Greater Richmond, VA Urban Local Intercity Transit Thurston County, WA Small Urban/Rural Kansas City Area Transportation Authority Greater Kansas City, MO Mid-Sized Regional Link Transit Chelan & Douglas Counties, WA Small Urban/Rural Mountain Line Missoula, MT University Community Partial Fare-Free Denver Regional Transportation District Greater Denver, CO Large Urban Regional Houston METRO Greater Houston, TX Large Urban Regional Iowa City Transit Iowa City, IA University Community Los Angeles Metro Los Angeles County, CA Large Urban Regional Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Greater Boston, MA Large Urban Regional Ride On Montgomery County, MD Urban Local San Francisco Muni San Francisco, CA Urban Local Sandy Area Metro Greater Sandy, OR Small Urban/Rural Steamboat Springs Transit Steamboat Springs, CO Resort Community Utah Transit Authority Wasatch Front, UT Large Urban Regional Not Fare-Free King County Metro King County, WA Large Urban Regional Sun Tran Tucson, AZ Mid-Sized Regional The Rapid Grand Rapids, MI Mid-Sized Regional Exhibit S-4. Case study transit agencies by service area and agency type.