Evaluation Framework for Fare-free Public Transportation

Communities around the world, including in the United States, are exploring the merits of providing public transportation without charging fares and identifying strategies for replacing passenger fare revenues. The economic, social, and environmental costs and benefits of fare-free public transportation are being weighed against the costs and benefits of current fare payment systems and the available capacity for increased ridership. Eight years ago, the Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) conducted a state of the practice review that produced TCRP Synthesis 101: Implementation and Outcomes of Fare-Free Transit Systems. More recently, consideration has emerged for the potential elimination of fare payments, in whole or in part, to engender broader societal benefits. Free Public Transit: And Why We Don’t Pay to Ride Elevators (2018) makes the case that addressing increasing societal inequalities and ecological crises should lead communities to rethink the status quo vis-a-vis public transit fares. The objective of this research is to develop a framework to evaluate fare-free public transportation. The framework should address the benefits and costs and the trade-offs that must be considered by public transportation providers, policy-makers, and other stakeholders as they consider eliminating fares, in whole or in-part, for public transportation.


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Funding: $100000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project J-11, Task 39

  • 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:

    Schwager, Dianne

  • Performing Organizations:

    Nelson/Nygaard Consulting Associates

  • Principal Investigators:

    Kirschen, Mariel

  • Start Date: 20201203
  • Expected Completion Date: 20220602
  • Actual Completion Date: 20220602

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01739654
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project J-11, Task 39
  • Files: TRB, RIP
  • Created Date: May 20 2020 10:00PM