Analyzing equity impacts of transit fare changes: Case study of Alameda-Contra Costa Transit, California

Cornelius Nuworsoo, Aaron Golub, Elizabeth Deakin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Many public transit agencies consider increasing fares when faced with budget shortfalls. This paper analyzes the Alameda-Contra Costa (AC) Transit District's five alternative fare proposals introduced for public discussion in March 2005. The proposals combined fare hikes, base fare reductions, eliminations of free transfers, and discontinuation of periodic passes. Using the agency's 2002 on-board survey data, the study assessed the impacts of individual fare proposals on different subsets of riders and evaluated if they were equitable; and estimated potential fare revenues, using alternative price elasticities to estimate changes in ridership due to changes in price. The analysis revealed that proposals that increased the cost of transfers or eliminated unlimited-use passes produced dramatically unequal impacts on certain riders. Proposals for flat fares per ride were found to be least equitable, even when the base fare was lowered, because lower income riders, youth, and minorities made more trips and transferred more frequently than their more affluent counterparts. Proposals that maintained existing pass instruments and allowed transfers for small fees were the most favorable. The paper demonstrates the utility of on-board surveys and details an approach that could be widely used for evaluation of equity in public transit and other areas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)360-368
Number of pages9
JournalEvaluation and Program Planning
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2009


  • Elasticity
  • Equity
  • Evaluation
  • Fare
  • Impact
  • Onboard survey
  • Pricing
  • Public transit
  • Revenue

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Social Psychology
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Strategy and Management
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


Dive into the research topics of 'Analyzing equity impacts of transit fare changes: Case study of Alameda-Contra Costa Transit, California'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this