Benefits of Campus Transit Pass: Study of Students' Willingness to Pay for Proposed Mandatory Transit Pass Program

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

planning - surveys, economics - willingness to pay, economics - benefits


Willingness to pay, Surveys, Passes (Transportation), Logistic regression analysis, College students, Campus transportation, Benefits


The problem of estimating the expected net benefits of an unlimited-access campus transit pass, which would also fund an increase in critically needed services, is an example of the problem of estimating the value of a public good. Students at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington, used a referendum-format contingent valuation survey to measure students’ willingness to pay (WTP) for a mandatory transit pass. Responses by 935 students (a 44.7% response rate) were analyzed with censored logistic regression and revealed a mean WTP of $32.08 per academic quarter (corrected for estimated self-selection bias) for the proposed program. The program could actually be provided by contract with the local transit agency for $20.00 per student per quarter. Thus the estimated net benefit per student per quarter is $12.59, or $428,624 across the campus population. On-campus residents and those who commute via bus or bicycle showed higher WTP. WTP was substantially lower for those who live more than 10 mi from campus. Frequencies of “yes” votes showed majorities supporting the pass up to the $35.00 per quarter fee level, and strong majorities up to the $20.00 level, suggesting the proposal would pass easily by a student vote. Content analysis of reasons given for support, lack of it, or indecision showed that students were persuaded by nighttime bus service, safety, monetary savings, and environmental benefits. Doubts were raised by the mandatory nature of the proposed fee, services not meeting needs, and opposition to more student fees.