Transit Zero Fare Impact Analysis

In partnership with the University of Kansas Transportation Center and the University of Missouri - Kansas City Bloch School and with support from KCATA, MARC analyzed the impacts of zero-fare on a range of performance measures including economic impacts, opportunity costs, agency revenues and costs, operations, community impacts, and other policy considerations.

Study partners explored the following basic questions:

  • Is there an economic benefit for individuals as well as the entire city, region and agency, to the proposed zero-fare program?
  • What policy interventions are necessary to arrive at a sustainable zero-fare program that provides ongoing positive economic benefit?

Study partners considered various scenarios for future implementation of a zero-fare program generally as follows:

  • A program that operates with no new public funding. Given the absence of new tax funding, is there a budget shortfall to be bridged via alternative measures such as transfer of revenue from other programs, service efficiencies or cost savings?
  • A program that operates with dedicated new public funding such as taxes, parking fees, development fees, value capture, etc. Given new dedicated funding, a program may operate in conjunction with enhanced transit services.

The analysis included an effort to reach out to key stakeholders to:

  • Gather input to help establish the full range of measures to be evaluated in the context of local and regional plans for transit service enhancements and expansion.
  • Obtain perspectives and viewpoints from diverse audiences on qualitative and quantitative benefits, or any potential direct costs or opportunity costs of the program.  
  • Develop an audience with whom to communicate results.

Engagement included on-board surveys of riders and stakeholder interviews with 13 area leaders with knowledge of the zero-fare deployment. These included a mix of local elected officials and local government and nonprofit executives. The primary purpose of the interviews was to identify additional evaluation factors for this report if needed.