Impacts of transfer fares on transit ridership and revenue

Document Type


Publication Date


Subject Area

infrastructure - interchange/transfer, land use - impacts, policy - fares, economics - revenue


Fares, Impacts, Policy, Public transit, Revenues, Ridership, Transfers, Transit riders


Transfers are used by the transit industry to allow passengers to move between routes in the system. This gives the riders flexibility to reach locations that are not provided by a direct connection, which due to cost constraints and system design are not always possible. However, using transfers as part of the fare structure creates additional burden on the operator that collects the fares, the agency that provides the media and the bookkeeping, the rider that pays for the transfer, and the additional time added to the trip due to the transaction. Transfer policy aside from the fare can be complex. How long is the transfer usable? What are the policies for transfers between modes? What is the transfer media? How are transfers tracked in the system? An easier approach might be to eliminate transfer fares altogether; however, the short-term and long-term impacts on revenue and ridership are not clear. Proponents of free transfers and those who advocate eliminating or charging for transfers usually rely on various assumptions. The need for research investigating the impacts of transfer policy and fares on revenue and ridership is imminent.