Several Canadian transit agencies offer discounted fare passes or are piloting them. Discounted fare passes are means-tested subsides that enable eligible residents to ride public transit at reduced fares, with some cities reimbursing transit operators’ lost revenue with social service funding. The size of the discount varies by jurisdiction. Despite growing use of fare discounts, the diversity of program designs, and the use of social service dollars to fund the discounts, little research examines the impacts of these subsidies on the ability of participants to participate fully in society. This is a gap in knowledge that is relevant to both social and transportation policy, one that this pilot will fill.
This pilot will evaluate the expansion of eligibility to participate in the City of Toronto’s Fair Pass program to all city residents with incomes below 70% of the Low Income Measure for poverty. Currently, the Fair Pass is available only to city residents participating in Ontario Works (OW), Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) or a Child Care Fee Subsidy, as well as people in rent-geared to income housing. Toronto’s Fair Pass program provides a $1.10 discount on all Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) single-use fares for adults (a 33% discount), and $32.75 discount on all monthly passes (a 21% discount).
This study will adopt a quasi-experimental design by recruiting a control group of participants with similar demographic characteristics as those who will become eligible for the Fair Pass program in 2023. The control group will include incomes up to 115% of the Low Income Measure. Recruitment of the control group will take place via Social Media, and outreach to community groups, and list-servs. Surveys of control group respondents will run concurrently with the program’s expansion to enable comparison of those who enroll under the expanded eligibility category. Enrollees will be invited to take a survey at the time they sign up for a pass. They will complete a follow up survey four to six months later.
Below is the schedule for data collection and analysis. These dates may change if the Fair Pass program’s expansion is postponed into 2024:
-UofT Research Ethics Board submission.
-Survey developed and reviewed by partners.
-Survey testing and refinement.
-Recruitment plan developed and finalized.
-Recruitment of control group and new Fair Pass user.
-Wave 1 (pre-expansion) data collection.
-Wave 1 data analysis.
-Wave 2 (post-expansion) data collection.
-Publication and dissemination of findings.
Heather Marshall, City of Toronto
Matt Palm, Research Coordinator (University of Toronto Scarborough)
Professor Steven Farber (University of Toronto Scarborough)
Anne Brown, University of Oregon
Toronto Transit Commission (TTC)
University of Oregon
To learn more about this pilot contact the Fair Pass Pilot Team at email@example.com.