Atlanta Regional Transit Fare Policy
CLIENT: Atlanta-Region Transit Link (ATL) Authority
Purpose of Project
The Atlanta-Region Transit Link (ATL) Authority is the Atlanta region’s transit planning and transit funding body established in 2018. The ATL’s primary goal is to enhance transit connectivity and expand transit options across the 13-county region encompassing Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, Coweta, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry, Paulding, and Rockdale counties.
The ATL is taking on the initiative to develop a regional fare policy across multiple transit operators to make transit more accessible and easier to travel across the region. This comprehensive study intends to identify fare structures and policies that can be implemented to improve transfers between transit operators and consistent fares and discounts.
Our Role on the Project
As part of a team, Modern Mobility Partners (MMP) is leading the stakeholder and public engagement which includes coordinating several stakeholder meetings with transit operators which will encourage consensus building. MMP conducted an online survey for the public to weigh in on their current travel patterns and transit fares, as well as their willingness to pay under potential future conditions. This information will feed directly into a willingness-to-pay model which will calculate the optimal fares to balance transit ridership and revenues. Finally, MMP will conduct one-on-one interviews with existing transit riders to dive deeper into their transit travel and fares for a better understanding of riders’ expectations regarding fare payments.
MMP is also leading the Title VI fare equity analysis consistent with Federal Transit Administration (FTA) requirements. Utilizing recent transit on-board ridership surveys, MMP will determine if minority or low-income populations will be disproportionately impacted by fare changes. If impacts are found, mitigation recommendations will be made including exploring other fare policy alternatives. As part of this effort, MMP will determine the number and percent of users of each fare media being changed, review fares before and after the change, and compare the differences for each particular fare media for minority and low-income riders.
A recommendation for a regional fare policy is anticipated in 2021. Following the recommendation, MMP will continue to work with the ATL and regional transit operators on an implementation strategy.
The ATL faces a unique challenge of coordinating 12 transit agencies across metro Atlanta, some which are partners with MARTA and use the Breeze system, but most use their own fare systems. A regional fare policy would help coordinate the system operations, making it easier for travelers to transfer from one system to the next, but finding a fare policy that meets the budgetary and equity needs of each agency is quite challenging. MMP is leading stakeholder and public engagement, helping to develop presentations and questions that build consensus among the agencies while also taking into account the riders. The online survey combines information about riders’ preferences, but also helps determine how much riders are willing to pay for transit trips. This information will in turn help create a policy that will be evaluated for Title VI equity to ensure a “fair” fare policy.