This paper reports on the ridership and revenue impacts for transit providers of a short-lived Seniors Free Ride Program in the Chicago metropolitan area. The discussion presents survey-free and survey-based approaches specifically developed to capture such effects during the program implementation. The analysis shows that instituting a free fare policy for seniors expectedly increased the demand for and associated costs of providing the service. In particular, the program had attracted approximately 75 percent additional senior rides at an associated cost of between $26.1 and $78.6 million. The Illinois legislature modified the program in 2011 to run as a means-tested program partially because of cost considerations. However, the methodology presented remains relevant for existing and future fare-free programs.
Ridership and Revenue Implications of Free Fares for Seniors in Northeastern Illinois.
Journal of Public Transportation, 16 (4): 131-150.
Available at: https://scholarcommons.usf.edu/jpt/vol16/iss4/7