Measuring and Managing Fare Evasion

Fare evasion impacts transit agency revenue, ridership, perceptions of fairness from paying passengers, and perceptions of safety. Accurate fare evasion measurement can improve ridership data, inform policy decisions, and prioritize resources for fare enforcement.  Fare evasion involves traveling on public transit without deliberately purchasing or possessing the fare media required to travel. It is a criminal offense in many jurisdictions, although some are now examining decriminalization of the offense. In some jurisdictions, equity concerns have been raised. Fare evasion has been examined in the media with questions about how the fare evasion rate is calculated and how fare evasion can be deterred. Fare evasion has also received the scrutiny of the Federal Transit Administration and could affect the counting of non-farebox passengers in National Transit Database ridership figures.   Research is needed to understand the various aspects of fare evasion. This research will inform the actions of transit agencies to better measure and manage fare evasion and its implications. The objective of this research is to prepare a report on the state of fare evasion and agency initiatives on fare evasion measurement, deterrence, and enforcement. The report will include definitions of fare evasion used by transit agencies across the United States; describe the methods transit agencies use to calculate fare evasion rates; describe how transit properties deter and enforce fare evasion; and include the penalties for fare evasion. The final deliverables should assist transit agencies to better understand and communicate the methods used to calculate fare evasion and its costs, the implications of fare evasion, and the effectiveness and impact of fare evasion policies. Accomplishment of the project objective will require at least the following tasks. Task descriptions are intended to provide a framework for conducting the research. The TCRP is seeking the insights of proposers on how best to achieve the research objective. Proposers are expected to describe research plans that can realistically be accomplished within the constraints of available funds and contract time. Proposals must present the proposers' current thinking in sufficient detail to demonstrate their understanding of the issues and the soundness of their approach to meeting the research objective. Task 1.  Identify and review relevant practices, data, and findings related to fare evasion in the United States, focusing on how transit bus, light rail, and heavy rail agencies measure and manage fare evasion. (Commuter rail is not in this scope.) Include a categorization of different legal and administrative definitions of fare evasion and types of fare evasion and fraud.  Prepare a working paper on the Task 1 results. Task 2. Prepare a plan to survey and/or interview transit bus, light rail, and heavy rail agencies. Include multi-modal as well as bus-only transit systems. Include a draft instrument and transit agency data collection plan, including strategies for addressing the sensitivity of the topic. Task 3.  Do not conduct the Task 4 interviews/surveys until TCRP has approved. Other work may continue during the review process. A meeting with the panel by conference call will be required.  Task 4. Conduct interviews/surveys based on the panel-approved plan and list of agencies.  Task 5. Use the results of the interviews/surveys to catalogue the methods used to estimate and actual estimations of fare evasion rates and fare revenue losses; the initiatives undertaken by transit agencies to identify and address the causes of fare evasion; and approaches to fare evasion deterrence and enforcement, as well as the results of those approaches. Include hiring and training approaches for front-line personnel. Task 6. Provide a stand-alone technical memorandum titled “Implementation of Research Findings and Products.”  Task 7. Submit a final report, documenting the entire research effort and including (1) an executive summary and (2) a structured guide for use by public transportation agency senior staff and policy-makers, law enforcement and security service providers, and revenue and data teams to assess the advantages and disadvantages of various approaches used in measuring and managing fare evasion. Focus on (a) data quality and resources to collect accurate data, (b) the policy decisions around efficiency and equity of fare enforcement strategies, and (c) costs and benefits of fare enforcement.


  • English


  • Status: Proposed
  • Funding: $150000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project A-45

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Transit Cooperative Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC    20001

    Federal Transit Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Project Managers:

    Parker, Stephan

  • Start Date: 20190730
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01690652
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project A-45
  • Files: TRB, RiP
  • Created Date: Jan 7 2019 3:04PM