Note: In advance of the Transportation Research Board's annual meeting, the biggest forum on the transportation research calendar, OTREC.us is profiling some of the researchers who will present their work.
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r, of the University of Utah, is conducting research for the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) surrounding its potential move to a distance-based fare system.
Typically, transit fares are a flat fee based on a given window of time: riders may pay $2.50 to ride anywhere they wish within a two-hour period, for example.
This system can negatively impact low-income populations, who as a general rule tend to travel shorter distances than people in higher income brackets. In a flat fare system, many low-income riders end up subsidizing the longer trips of wealthier riders.
The UTA is considering changing its fares to a distance-based system, wherein riders would pay a fee determined by how far they travel.
Farber, along with co-investigators Keith Bartholomew and Xiao Li of the University of Utah, Antonio Páez of McMaster University, and Khandker M. Nurul Habib of the University of Toronto, conducted a spatial analysis of data from the Utah Household Travel Survey collected in Spring 2012.
They were searching specifically for pockets of low-income riders, making transit trips of longer distances, who might be negatively impacted by the new system. They concluded that:
- Distance-based-fares generally result in lower fares for those who need it most, but
- Pockets of mismatch do exist and require further analysis.
- Demographic trends, namely the suburbanization of the poor and elderly, pose a threat to equality.
- The burden on long-distance low-income travellers can be mitigated through reduced flat-fare components.
Simultaneously, the research team developed a software tool to allow the UTA to perform similar analyses more quickly in the future. They created a GIS-based Decision Support System for evaluating the social equity impacts of transit fare policy.
Farber presents his work at 8:30 a.m., Eastern time, Monday, Jan. 13 at the Washington Hilton. Click here to see his poster
. His paper, “Social Equity in Distance-Based Transit Fares,” is available here:
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