Taylor Expresses Concern About Eliminating Transit Fares

Brian Taylor, professor of urban planning and public policy,  spoke to Public Source about the prospect of universal free public transportation. In December, Kansas City, Missouri, became the first major U.S. city to eliminate all public transit fares. Proponents of the move argue that doing so increases ridership, simplifies the experience of riding and benefits low-income riders. However, experts worry that eliminating transit fares is not a universal solution, especially for cities like Pittsburgh, which dwarfs Kansas City in ridership and fare revenue. “By offering free transit service for all trips, you run the risk of actually incurring a very high marginal cost to accommodate where your peak demand is,” Taylor said. He argued that there are better ways to increase ridership and serve the needs of those dependent on transit. Instead of eliminating fares, Taylor recommended spending fare revenue on services and programs that make transit more reliable and accessible.

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