Means-Based Fare Study | Plans + Projects | Our Work

Means-Based Fare Study

Friday, January 5, 2018

For most Bay Area households, transportation is the third-biggest monthly expense — trailing only the cost of housing and food.

MTC in 2015 launched a study to determine if a transit fare program based on household income would be feasible and effective.

The Regional Means-Based Transit Fare Pricing Study includes three main objectives:

  • Make transit more affordable for low-income residents
  • Move toward a more consistent regional standard for fare discounts
  • Develop implementation options that are financially viable and administratively feasible

Study Reports (Draft Final)

For more information, contact Melanie Choy at

MTC has long identified possible transit-affordability barriers for low-income riders, and has supported several initiatives to address the problem.

These include:

  • Lifeline Transportation Program
  • Coordinated Public Transit-Human Services Transportation Plan
  • Transit Sustainability Project
  • Community-Based Transportation Plans

Though MTC does not determine fare policies for the Bay Area’s transit agencies, we do have the authority to promote regional fare coordination.

We are funding the roughly $200,000 needed for this study through the State Transit Assistance program.

Key areas of focus for our pricing study include identifying:

  • Possible fare structures and payment methods
  • Eligible recipients
  • Overall program costs
  • Potential funding sources
  • Impact on transit agencies’ fare revenue
  • Relationships to existing discounts
  • Technical challenges

The Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) was established to provide input and feedback on the study. The TAC consists of a broad-based group of stakeholders including representatives from public transit operators, social and human services agencies, academia and non-profit organizations. The TAC met four times through the course of the study: