17 Reasons (or More) to Stop Charging People to Ride the Bus

Olsen, Dave
Date Written:  2007-07-05
Publisher:  The Tyee
Year Published:  2007
Resource Type:  Book
Cx Number:  CX20502

Olsen outlines a proposal for how to implement a fare-free transit system using already existing examples from around the world that are supported by their level of success and positive effects on their societies, environment, and customer satisfaction.



Big or small, most transit systems are scraping by or on the brink of financial collapse, paradoxically because of their reliance on the fare box. Revenue for any system drops when ridership dips or when fares are increased. Yes, when fares are increased. This is so well proven it has a name: the Simpson-Curtain rule. Most often the dip in ridership is caused by the hike in fares.

To understand this cycle better, let's imagine that you are in charge of a transit system. You feel pressure to increase service or to maintain service despite increasing costs. You need to raise more money. Politically and practically, for most systems, the easiest way is to raise fares. But soon after, ridership goes down. It drops 3.8 per cent for every 10 per cent increase in fares, researchers have found (Cervero, R., 1994). Which means you either haven't gained much new revenue, or worse, you've started spiraling downward.

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