RT37 – Jeff Brown and Joel Mendez – Paying for Public Transport

RT37 – Jeff Brown and Joel Mendez – Paying for Public Transport

Researching Transit – Episode 37

Published: November 2021

Keywords: Public transport, benefits, costs, revenue, fares, financing, value capture

This is the fifteenth episode in Researching Transit’s Handbook of Public Transport Research Series. Links to the book can be found at the end of the notes.

In this episode Professor Graham Currie talks to Professor Jeff Brown and Dr Joel Mendez about funding public transport. Professor Brown is from the College of Social Sciences & Public Policy at Florida State University. He is Department Chair, Associate Dean for Strategic Initiatives and the Interim Associate Dean for Research at the Department of Urban & Regional Planning. Dr Mendez is Assistant Professor at the University of Kansas’ Urban Planning Program.

The episode starts with a brief discussion of Professor Brown’s background in transportation finance and policy, planning history, and public transport. He talks about how he got into research, and work early in his career with Donald Shoup on using unlimited transit passes to help reduce parking demand at universities. Professor Brown also discusses his research on streetcars and what is influencing decisions by US cities to invest in this mode.

Professor Currie then talks to Dr Joel Mendez about his background and research about equity and public transport, including recent work about a zero fare policy in Kanas. This is followed by a discussion about the eleventh chapter of the Handbook of Public Transport Research: Paying for public transport, which was authored by Dr Mendez, Professor James Wood, Assistant Professor Dristi Neog and Professor Brown. The chapter includes material about the benefits and cost of public transport, transit subsides, and the challenges of providing sufficient resources to support operations and capital improvements.

Dr Mendez, Professor Brown and Professor Currie discuss how paying for public transport is linked to its purpose, and how there are often many benefits of providing transit that accrue to non-users. This is part of the reason that many US services are supported by local sales taxes or other revenue streams, in addition to or instead of passenger fares. They discuss systems, such as the U-Pass, where a university makes a bulk payment to an operator in return for all students receiving free or reduced cost travel. Payroll taxes, intergovernmental grants and transit funding through the US highway trust fund are also covered in the episode.

Professor Brown makes the point that it is about having a diversity of funding sources. This might involve non-traditional forms of financing; which Dr Mendez discusses towards the end of the episode. These include joint development, revenue and cost sharing agreements, and other ways of capturing the property value benefits that occur when transit services are provided.


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Music from this episode is from https://www.purple-planet.com

  • Date November 14, 2021
  • Tags Podcast