Skip to Content
Streetsblog USA home
Streetsblog USA home
Log In
Equity

The Case for Fare-Capping

What if I told you that poor people pay more to ride transit than rich people. Seems unfair, right?

But that's one of the unintended consequences of most unlimited ride passes most U.S. transit agencies offer. Weekly or monthly passes can do wonders for riders, but the upfront cost is often too much for low-income people to afford, so they end up paying more per ride than people who don't blink at the price of an unlimited.

In this video, TransitCenter explains how a policy known as "fare-capping" makes unlimited transit passes available to people who can't cover the full cost all at once.

The concept is simple: If you purchase single rides, the system still caps the price you pay in a given period. So if a single fare costs $2.50 and a daily pass costs $5, you can take three or more rides in a day and still only pay $5. Weekly or monthly spending on fares would be capped in the same way.

Last year, Portland's Tri-Met became the first U.S. agency to institute fare-capping. The agency estimated it would reduce fare revenue between 1 and 1.5 percent, but would also reduce fare evasion.

In order for fare-capping to work, agencies need to have a fare system in place that counts how many trips people make with their farecards. As more agencies adopt reloadable farecards that track people's rides, fare-capping should become standard practice, TransitCenter says.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog USA

Friday’s Headlines Go Back to the Future

If you liked the first Trump administration's transportation policies, you're going to love the second Trump administration's transportation policies.

July 19, 2024

Advocates Share What It Takes to Fight Highway Expansions in Court 

What does it take to sue your state DOT? Time, money, the right partners, and a little creativity, a recent survey of activists found.

July 19, 2024

Friday Video: Paris Does it Again

Come for the bike-friendly streets, but stay for adopt-a-tree program and all the car-free school roadways.

July 19, 2024

Talking Headways Podcast: IrrePLACEable

Kevin Kelley on his book Irreplaceable: How to Create Extraordinary Places that Bring People Together, and the future of downtowns.

July 18, 2024

This Heat Wave is a Car Dependency Problem

Our quickly warming planet has a unique impact on people who don't or can't drive — and we need policy action to protect their health.

July 18, 2024
See all posts