Cassidy McIntyre

The Application and Impact of Free Public Transportation in Los Angeles County

Faculty Mentor: Seva Rodnyansky, Urban & Environmental Policy Department

Major: Politics

Funding: Undergraduate Research Center Summer Research Fellowship


This research project looks at the implementation and impact of existing free public transportation systems and outlines the plausibility and potential impacts of a free transit system in Los Angeles County. To begin, this paper will increase knowledge on the existing benefits of public transport through a review of its social, environmental, economic, and health-related benefits. After selecting fare free systems that fit within the parameters of my study, data is then compiled from transit agencies, researchers, experts, and transit advocates in order to discern trends, if any, in the effects of a fare-free policy after implementation. In addition to this to analysis, I look at the specific political and economic challenges facing Los Angeles County that may serve as barriers to a zero-fare system. This information will serve as the foundation of my research in order to create reasonable models for the implementation of free public transportation in LA County. The development of these models will ultimately be built off of three hypotheses. Firstly; fare-free transit systems increase the existing benefits of public transportation by increasing public transport ridership numbers, more efficiently allocating transportation resources, and decreasing car use. Secondly; the primary challenges of a fare-free system are the additional costs originating in the establishment and advertisement of the program and in an increase in maintenance costs due to an overall increase in ridership numbers. And lastly, areas with greater social inequities will benefit most from a fare-free program. After an analysis of these hypotheses, a model will be developed that establishes a reasonable timeline for the development and creation of a fare-free program complete with estimated costs and projected benefits.


Watch my research presentation below.

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