Title

TIME-OF-DAY TRANSIT PRICING : COMPARATIVE US AND INTERNATIONAL EXPERIENCES

Authors

Robert Cervero

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

1986

Subject Area

policy - fares, economics - pricing, place - urban, mode - mass transit

Keywords

Urban travel, Urban transit, Transit, Time, Public transit, Mass transit, Local transit, Fares, Distance

Abstract

Experiences with time-of-day transit pricing in the U.S. are reviewed in this article and compared to those in other countries. Emphasis is placed on examining ridership, financial and efficiency impacts associated with time-of-day pricing, along with highlighting innovative approaches to implementing fare differentials. American time-of-day fare structures have been about evenly split between off-peak discounts, peak-period surcharges, and programmes involving differential rates of fare increases between peak and off-peak hours. Although most American operators introduced time-of-day differentials to encourage ridership shifts to the off-peak period, available evidence suggests that they have been only marginally successful in doing so. Off-peak users were generally found to be far more fare-sensitive to discounts than peak passengers were to surcharges. Only in a handful of American cities were significant efficiency and financial benefits from time-of-day pricing recorded, though in those few places, they tended to be substantial. The most successful American programmes have been those which collect fares on the basis of bus runs and direction of trips (rather than the exact time) and which aggressively market their programmes under the aegis of 'bargain fares'. It is concluded that useful lessons can be gained by sharing policy insights from experiments with differential transit pricing in both the US and elsewhere.