Economic and distributional effects of different fare schemes: Evidence from the Metropolitan Region of Barcelona

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - europe, place - urban, policy - fares, policy - equity, economics - pricing, economics - subsidy, economics - revenue


Public transport, Fare schemes, Integrated fares, Subsidies, Elasticities, Distributional effects


This paper assesses the ability of alternative fare system designs to change the modal-share of public transport use, as well as their corresponding impact on company revenues. Specifically, we provide evidence for how switching from flat to distance fares or from integrated to non-integrated tickets affects both the ridership and the financial situation of public transport companies. Secondly, because distributional concerns are at the heart of the policy debate, we evaluate the impact of the alternative fare schemes on equity. We distinguish between commuting and personal travel purposes. Focusing on the Metropolitan Region of Barcelona, our analysis shows that different pricing structures have only a moderate effect on ridership, while the potential for revenue changes is higher. Regarding equity, our results reveal that the distributional profiles of alternative pricing strategies are quite homogeneous. However, there appears to be a mild regressive effect when an integrated fare system is removed. Our results may help to guide policy decisions related to public transport pricing strategies.


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


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