Comparison of University Pass Programs on Commuter Rail Services

Even with a relatively small sample of 12 commuter rail services that provide a university student pass, there is considerable variation in how those university passes are conducted. The complexity and goals of the specific transit agencies appear to have played the largest role in determining what kind of policy the implementation of a university pass would follow. The complexity of university pass programs has made it hard for more transit agencies to offer these programs. North San Diego County Transit, for example, is currently looking for ways that it can implement a university pass program on its commuter rail services. It is also evident that the desires and willingness of the universities to participate and provide subsidies plays an important role in what kind of transportation contract can be pursued. The best-case scenario exists where transit agencies and local institutions were able to match their needs and wants to provide a service that is more useful to the targeted transit audience.

University Passes can be broken into two broad categories: reduced fare programs and unlimited ride passes. Most reduced fare programs are simply the sale of discounted tickets from the ticket window when the purchaser can produce appropriate documentation. In most cases that documentation is a university ID or paper application. In most cases, programs with ticket window discounts do not have additional arrangements with participating universities. It is
assumed that commuter rail operators with this kind of an arrangement are providing a community service, assume an elastic demand for their university services, or are hoping to develop transit-friendly habits in university students that will continue after their education is completed. Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority is an exception that requires the university to pay for half the student discount.
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Author / Presenter:

Stephen Hunt

Presentation Date / Publication Date: