Date of Award

Fall 2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Public Administration (DPA)


Public Policy and Administration

Committee Chairperson

Kristen Crossney, PhD

Committee Member

Angela Kline, PhD

Committee Member

Matin Katirai, PhD


American public transportation systems have been moving people for more than a century. To some, the transit bus may alleviate frustrations related to finding parking or having to pay expensive parking fees. To others, public transportation may be their lifeline for all travel needs including work, school, medical appointments, and even recreation. While these direct benefits assist those citizens that do use public transportation, public transportation can also bring other benefits indirectly to society in the form of decreased congestion and pollution. As more and more people begin using public transportation systems, they will soon find that public transportation systems are unique from community to community. Some provide routes, others provide curb to curb service, and others charge passengers fares while some systems are free to ride.

This study used a mixed methods approach to evaluate funding information about America’s public transportation systems that do not charge fares to their passengers. Using an online survey, transit system interviews, data from the National Transit Database, and information obtained from website examinations, six categories emerged as to how public transportation systems can forgo charging fares to passengers and instead offer a public transportation system within their community that is free to all to ride. The findings obtained from this study can aid additional public transportation systems with deploying a model that allows for fare free public transportation within their communities and may also assist current fare free transit systems with generating additional operational revenue.