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Why CVTD is Fare-Free

Nelson/Nygaard, a national transportation planning firm, was selected to assist CVTD in developing a five year operational and capital plan. As part of this process this firm was tasked with doing an independent analysis of CVTD’s zero fare policy completed in 2012. Download chapter 10 “Fare Analysis”. Below is a general summary of the findings from this study.

Nelson/Nygaard recommended that CVTD not change its fare policy, for the following reasons:

  • The expense of collecting the fare is generally greater than the revenue generated from the fare.
  • Charging a fare causes significant ridership loss.
  • Collecting a fare causes scheduled travel times to be lengthened because of the additional time needed for passengers to deposit the fare.
  • Charging a fare makes it more difficult for CVTD to meet its mission of reducing the dependency on the automobile and supporting efforts to improve air quality, by reducing ridership.
  • Collecting fares creates real and perceived barriers to using public transit, known as “Hassle Factors.”
  • Charging a fare makes it more difficult for CVTD to meet the Envision Cache Valley principle to “Provide a balanced transportation with enhanced public transportation options” by reducing ridership.

When demographic and economic conditions are such that charging a fare does not negatively affect these key objectives, CVTD should consider implementing a fare.

As a zero fare system for 18 years, CVTD has enjoyed major administrative, operational, and customer service benefits from not charging a fare. From an administrative standpoint, a zero fare system is simple to operate, as there is no need for back-end accounting, secure storage of funds, or marketing and distribution of fare media. From an operational perspective, a zero fare system benefits from short dwell times (no one standing in line to pay, causing bus delays) and avoids disputes between operators and passengers regarding properly paid fares.