Evaluating the Costs and Benefits of Implementing a MARTA Youth Fare

Thumbnail Image
Todd, Kara Grace
Mokhtarian, Patricia L.
Associated Organizations
Supplementary to
Unlike many transit systems in the United States, the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) does not offer a discounted youth fare. Such a fare policy creates a financial disincentive to choosing transit for many families traveling with children or youth traveling independently. Instead, most parents chauffeur their children by car, adding to the well-known traffic congestion in the Atlanta region. Encouraging the use of more sustainable travel modes, including public transit, has benefits for the physical health of travelers as well as the economic and environmental well-being of the region. The purpose of this research is to evaluate the costs and benefits, financial and otherwise, that might result if MARTA were to offer a reduced or even free youth fare. Using data from the 2011 Regional Household Travel Survey conducted by the Atlanta Regional Commission, a multinomial logit model of youth mode choice for non-school trips is developed. Various youth fare policies are then tested, including reduced and free fares for all youth as well as reduced and free fares available to only low-income youth, to estimate their potential to attract additional young riders. The policies are evaluated based on their estimated impacts on ridership and farebox revenue, as well as the socioeconomic characteristics of the individuals predicted to choose public transit in each scenario. Although offering a discounted youth fare may not be profitable to MARTA in the short-term, the positive impacts it could have on the community as a whole could outweigh the financial costs, making it worth further consideration by city and regional officials.
Date Issued
Resource Type
Resource Subtype
Rights Statement
Rights URI