Enhancing Student Outcomes While Strengthening Transit: An Analysis of LA Metro’s GoPass Fareless Pilot

Research Team: Jean-Daniel Saphores (lead), Susie Pike, and Farzana Khatun

UC Campus(es): UC Davis, UC Irvine

Problem Statement: Many California students rely on public transit to travel to and from school. For low-income families, even low transit fares can be economically burdensome, leading some students to skip school or abstain from extra-curricular activities. Some school districts have partnered with transit agencies to offer free transit passes in an effort to help students overcome these obstacles, but few of these programs have been rigorously analyzed, either for their impacts on educational achievements or for their impacts on transit.

Project Description: This study will characterize the users of LA Metro's K-14 free transit pass program – the largest ever such program in the U.S. – and analyze users’ travel patterns (e.g., mode of transport to and from school, after school trips, trip purposes). Understanding the ridership impacts of free transit pass programs for K-14 students is essential for promoting educational and transportation equity. It is also critical for transit it attempts to recover from the drop in ridership caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Status: In Progress

Budget: $70,000