Using Quantitative Methods in Equity and Demographic Analysis to Inform Transit Fare Restructuring Decisions

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - mass transit, place - north america, policy - equity, policy - fares, ridership - forecasting, technology - ticketing systems, ridership - disadvantage


New York City Transit (NYCT), Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), race, income equity, environmental justice requirements


New York City Transit (NYCT) and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority have integrated race and income equity considerations into their extensive public outreach processes for fare changes. Responding to FTA civil rights, Title VI, and environmental justice requirements, NYCT developed two quantitative and analytical approaches for fore-casting equity impacts of fare restructuring decisions, in place of more traditional origin-destination surveys. The first approach uses standard aggregate fare elasticity models to estimate diversions between different fare classes and ridership losses resulting from fare adjustments. Average farechanges by fare media type are disaggregated with historical farecard usage patterns (consumption data) by subway station and bus route and translated into demographic variables (minority or non-minority and at, below, or above poverty) on the basis of census data. Overall average fare changes are used to analyze equity impacts. A second, more experimental approach identifies user demographics by daily first swipe locations and estimates daily average fares as actually experienced by each passenger by using sequential transactions on discrete farecards. To meet ongoing requirements, methods were developed to analyze impacts separately for peak and off-peak time periods and to demonstrate equity by using statistical tests. Impact analyses results and historical ridership, revenue, and market share data collected by the MetroCard automated fare collection system all inform fare structure design processes, with particular attention devoted to distributing fare increase burdens equitably.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by TRB, copyright remains with them.