Synthesis of Information Related to Transit Practices. Topic SH-21. Transit Fare Capping: Balancing Revenue and Equity Impacts

Transit agencies in North America are beginning to experiment with fare caps to ensure that passengers that pay for single rides do not pay more than multiple-ride passes included in their fare structure. A fare cap is a practice in which users are charged according to rides taken over a period of time; a user’s combined fares over multiple rides cannot exceed the amount a rider would have paid if they had purchased the optimal period pass based on their usage. Fare capping offers many advantages: greater convenience, transit fairness, and most of all more equitable access to the discounts afforded by those who purchase transit passes. The tradeoffs include reduction in revenue, uncertain ridership impacts, and required investments in new technology. The practice of fare capping is growing quickly in the United States. In 2017, Portland’s TriMet became the first major transit agency in the United States to institute fare capping, although international transit agencies in places like London and Dublin had already demonstrated its success. Other agencies in the U.S. offering fare capping include DART (Dallas), Houston Metro, Interruban Transit (Grand Rapids), CTtransit (Connecticut), IndyGo (Indianapolis), AC Transit (Oakland), Metrolink (St. Louis), and Miami-Dade Transit. Other agencies are considering fare capping but find that there are limited resources dedicated to this emerging practice. Advocacy groups like TransitCenter and the Tri-State Transportation Campaign are calling for fare capping in large transit markets like New York City and Boston. Because best practices in fare capping are still unclear, transit agencies may have a difficult time weighing fare capping’s benefits against revenue and ridership impacts or comparing overall costs against equity issues. The objective of this synthesis is to document the implementation, planning and assessment of fare capping in the North American transit agencies.


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  • Status: Active
  • Funding: $45000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project J-07, Topic SH-21

  • 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:

    Garcia-Colberg, Mariela

  • Performing Organizations:

    Nelson/Nygaard Consulting Associates

  • Principal Investigators:

    Pettine, Amy

  • Start Date: 20201013
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01741227
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project J-07, Topic SH-21
  • Files: TRB, RIP
  • Created Date: May 25 2020 3:04PM