Evaluating the Travel Behavior Impacts of Los Angeles Metro’s K-14 Fareless Initiative

Research Team: David Brownstone (lead) and Henry Bernal

UC Campus(es): UC Irvine

Problem Statement: In October 2021, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation, or LA Metro (the largest transit agency in Los Angeles County), launched the GoPass Fareless pilot program in collaboration with other regional transit operators and multiple school districts across the county. The program offers free transit passes to K-14 students. Students attending eligible schools may enroll in the program by receiving a card from their school and registering it online. Participation in the program is decided by school districts, who opt in by paying a cost-sharing fee of $3 per student per year. While other student fareless programs have been attempted and some others remain in service—including the DASH to Class program which offers free rides on the City of Los Angeles’s DASH service and has been active since 2019—the scale of LA Metro’s program provides a unique opportunity to assess the ability of a large-scale program to change travel behavior among participating students.

Project Description: This project will 1) analyze the differences in student enrollment in the GoPass fareless program among eligible schools based on socio-economic characteristics and access to existing transit services; 2) assess how the program has impacted ridership at Metro-operated bus stops near schools in the weekday morning and afternoon peak hours; and 3) identify individual characteristics that influence students’ trip generation and mode choices for school and other trips. The project will survey Los Angeles United School District (LAUSD) high school students about their current school, work, extracurricular travel activities, and availability of household mobility devices compared to their travel behavior before joining the program.

Status: In Progress

Budget: $75,554