The effects of metro fare increase on transport equity: New evidence from Beijing

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - asia, place - urban, mode - subway/metro, economics - pricing, policy - fares, policy - equity, planning - integration, planning - surveys, ridership - disadvantage, ridership - young people


Social equity, Metro fare, Fare structure, Transport disadvantage, Just pricing, Beijing


Transit pricing is one of the major factors influencing transport-related equity. In particular, in developing countries with low car-dependency rates, public transit plays an important role in providing access for disadvantaged groups to desired destinations, such as jobs, education, and health care. Changes in public transit fares can significantly affect residents' travel expenditures and possibly transport-related social equity. However, cases from developed countries dominate the existing literature in the field, and the comparison of equity between flat fare and distance-based fare is scarce. This study aims to fill this gap by examining the case of Beijing. To relieve operators’ financial pressures, the Beijing municipal government replaced its flat metro fare (CNY 2) by a distance-based fare in 2014. Using retrospective survey data, this study analysed the effects of the metro fare increase on transport equity. An index of affordability was established to measure transit equity, and the multivariable models showed that the introduction of a distance-based fare would significantly increase the cost burden of vulnerable residents on metro use with such groups as low-income earners and young workers, who pay more than their counterparts. Because of the unaffordable housing price in Beijing and the different patterns of residence by income, this study also investigated the interaction effects of housing tenure and residential location. The compelling results suggest that residents who owned housing in the suburbs experienced less increase of the transit burden. These findings are interpreted as supporting the construction of affordable housing in suburban areas and integrated transit-oriented as tools to enhance social equity under the circumstance of property-led urban growth.


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


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