The Impacts of Universal Bus Pass on University Student Travel Behavior

Many universities in North America have implemented, or are considering, universal bus passes (U-Pass) where all students pay a small fee and receive an unlimited transit pass. Previous studies have found increased bus use after a U-Pass is implemented, but it is not always clear who exactly is changing mode; car users ? active transportation users ? If active travel is reduced, one could argue that from a three-pillar sustainability perspective (economic, environmental, and health/society), it is not clear what is the overall impact of a universal bus pass. In this study, origin-destination surveys from before and after the implementation of a U-Pass for three universities in two cities in Canada are used to examine these questions: (1) for the student body as a whole, is the system more sustainable? (2) Do the observed changes in distances for walking follow the logic of travel time reduction? Our research has shown that the U-Pass programs implemented had the expected results of increasing the public transit share and decreasing the car share. However, the walk share to campus decreased importantly. Calculated indicators of sustainable development showed a mitigated effect of the U-Pass program with a reduction of cost for students to travel to university, a reduction of minutes of physical activity and no significant reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. These results suggest that beyond global sustainability, U-Pass programs should be put in place to answer specific transportation and planning objectives with careful attention drawn to local conditions that could influence its performance.

  • Supplemental Notes:
    • This paper was sponsored by TRB committee AP030 Standing Committee on Public Transportation Marketing and Fare Policy.
  • Corporate Authors:

    Transportation Research Board

    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001
  • Authors:
    • Letarte, Laurence
    • Pouliot, Sebastien
    • Waygood, E O D
  • Conference:
  • Date: 2016


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 15p
  • Monograph Title: TRB 95th Annual Meeting Compendium of Papers

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01588173
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: 16-1498
  • Files: TRIS, TRB, ATRI
  • Created Date: Jan 28 2016 8:59AM