Advantages and Disadvantages of Fare-Free Transit Policy

Document Type


Publication Date


Subject Area

place - north america, economics - appraisal/evaluation, policy - fares, policy - equity


impacts, costs, advantages, disadvantages, fare-free, transit policy


This synthesis of fare-free demonstrations offers information as to the impact, cost, advantages, and disadvantages of fare-free implementation in various transit systems. The main thrust of this synthesis is that while fare-free policy can be recommended for smaller transit systems, it is questionable as to whether fare-free implementation would be appropriate for larger systems. There are consequences to any operational transit policy, and those who make decisions about whether to offer fare-free service should be aware of the range of possible consequences. There are many factors which influences whether fare-free transit would be a negative or positive experience in any given transit system environment. This report presents both the advantages and disadvantages of fare-free service in differing transit system environments within the framework of several policy questions and is meant to serve as a guide for those considering whether to implement fare-free policy within a specific transit system.


Permission to link to this report has been given by Center for Urban Transportation Research, copyright remains with them.