J.X. Shen, S.K. Zheng
One possible solution to increase passenger participation in the public transit service and relieve traffic congestion is to implement the fare elimination policy, but transportation divisions are still hesitant to attempt on it for its actual effect on the urban transportation systems. This paper introduces a recent system-wide fare-free policy demonstration in Gaoping city of China, a small-size developing city with high residential density. Two contrastive investigations to disclose the impacts of the fare-free strategy on the transportation system and residents have been completed. A sharp increase of 320% in passenger demand in the public transit system was observed after the initiation of the new policy, far beyond the performance of previous demonstrations. The results indicate that the fare elimination policy had a limited influence on decreasing the vehicle volume on the roads, but it indeed worked well in preventing the further deterioration of traffic congestion. Empirical evidence simply that this demonstration can be an encouraging experience and the fare-free policy could be an effective solution for developing countries with high residential density.
Keywords: public transit; fare-free policy; evaluation; high residential density