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FINAL Transit Farebox Recovery and US and International Transit Subsidization: Synthesis

Prepared for Katy Taylor Director Public Transportation Division Washington State Department of Transportation

Prepared by Kathy Lindquist, WSDOT Research Office Michel Wendt, WSDOT Library James Holbrooks, WSDOT Public Transportation Office

October 8, 2009

Transportation Synthesis Reports (TSRs) are brief summaries of currently available information on topics of interest to WSDOT staff. Online and print sources may include newspaper and periodical articles, NCHRP and other TRB programs, AASHTO, the research and practices of other state DOTs and related academic and industry research. Internet hyperlinks in the TSRs are active at the time of publication, but host server changes can make them obsolete.

Request for Synthesis

Katy Taylor, Director, WSDOT Public Transportation Division, requested a synthesis to identify the percentage or ratio of transit cost recovery from fareboxes in major cities in US and abroad. Farebox recovery ratio of a passenger transportation system is the proportion of the amount of revenue generated through fares by its paying customers as a fraction of the cost of its total operating expenses.

The synthesis also includes an identification of the states in the US and countries internationally that subsidize local/regional bus systems and the trends in state and local funding for transit systems.

Databases Searched

  • TRIS Online


  • Research in Progress (RiP) Database

  • FHWA

  • FTA

  • Google

  • Wisconsin DOT Transportation Synthesis Reports

  • All State DOT Websites


Farebox Recovery Ratios In the literature reviewed few published sources document the percentage of transit costs recovered from fireboxes internationally. The American Public Transportation Association compiles transit data on many topics, and in the National Transit Database on the APTA website shows a chart on Table 26 of Farebox Recovery Ratios in U. S. transit agencies: http://www.apta.com/resources/statistics/Pages/NTDDataTables.aspx. (Table 26 is sortable by agency size.)


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