Title

ANALYSIS OF EFFECTS OF FARE-FREE TRANSIT PROGRAM ON STUDENT COMMUTING MODE SHARES: BRUINGO AT UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA AT LOS ANGELES

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

2003

Subject Area

planning - surveys, ridership - mode choice, ridership - commuting, policy - fares, mode - bus, mode - pedestrian

Keywords

Walking, University of California, Los Angeles, Travel surveys, Ridership, Patronage (Transit ridership), Operational tests, Mode share, Mode choice, Modal split, Modal choice, Intracity bus transportation, Free fares, Employees, Demonstration projects, Cycling, College students, Choice of transportation, Bus transit, Bicycling, Before and after studies

Abstract

Spring 2002 concluded the second year of the BruinGo pilot demonstration program of the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). BruinGo allows students and employees of UCLA to board buses of the Santa Monica Municipal Bus Lines (Big Blue Bus) free of charge. At a time when the future of BruinGo is at stake (both its existence and the possible expansion of the program to other transit agencies), a brief analysis of what has been accomplished by the program at this stage is provided. The program is analyzed using two methods: (a) the analysis of the changes in the commuting mode share for all off-campus student commuters and (b) an intricate process of geocoding survey data in which the relationship of the proximity of a student's residence to the Big Blue Bus lines and the corresponding choice of mode to campus is analyzed. The conclusion is that providing fare-free transit to students did, in fact, increase transit ridership and decrease students' reliance on the automobile to reach campus. Transit ridership for 2001 (the first year of BruinGo) increased by more than 50% over ridership in 2000 (the year before BruinGo), while more than 1,000 fewer automobile trips were taken to the UCLA campus each day. Even more striking is the rate at which students are leaving their cars at home in the areas best served by the Big Blue Bus. After BruinGo, fully 50% of all students in walking distance of a direct line to campus took transit (compared with 35% before BruinGo). That is much higher than in other areas. The mode share of walking and bicycling also decreased dramatically, however.