Funding, Financing, and Fares


How better payment systems can improve public transportation (May 2023). America’s payment system is transforming as methods of transacting digitally grow. Our current payment system has solved one set of challenges to unlock the new economy, but the system causes significant problems for others. The current system has a cost structure that is expensive for digital micro-payments, which are small dollar payments. These problems form a perfect storm when it comes to transit agencies. Public transit has a large share of low-dollar, high-volume payments. Transit agencies face unique challenges in adapting their fare payment systems to best meet the needs of riders while simultaneously solving concerns regarding user ease, speed, interoperability, and costs. Enhancing payment efficiency for low-dollar, high-volume payments offers benefits beyond public transit as America’s infrastructure and mobility methods rapidly evolve.

Federal Coordinating Council on Access and Mobility (CCAM) Federal Fund Braiding Guide (June 2020). Federal fund braiding for local match allows grant recipients to use funds from one federal program to meet the match requirements of another. The CCAM Federal Fund Braiding Guide provides information to potential grantees as well as CCAM agency program managers on acceptable Federal fund braiding arrangements on transportation-related projects. The guide defines Federal fund braiding for local match and examines whether Federal fund braiding is allowable for 61 programs across CCAM agencies that may fund transportation.

Rural Philanthropy Toolkit (Rural Health Information Hub 2019). Developed with partners at the NORC Walsh Center for Rural Health Analysis, this toolkit compiles model programs and resources and provides guidance to assist in preparing for partnerships with philanthropies, conducting outreach to philanthropies, and establishing and sustaining relationships with philanthropies.

Half Fare or Reduced Fare Requirements Information Brief (National Aging and Disability Transportation Center, 2018). Explains rules regarding the half-fare or reduced-fare rule and how it should be applied for riders of public transportation.

Cost-Sharing for FTA Grantees (National Center for Mobility Management, 2016). Written for mobility managers as they collaborate with human service agencies in their community to provided coordinated transportation services. In these types of discussions, questions often arise about whether funds from human service agencies can be used to help match Federal Transit Administration funds. This brief reviews existing guidance on this issue.

Expanding Specialized Transportation: New Opportunities Under the Affordable Care Act (AARP Public Policy Institute, 2015). This brief explains how states can use untapped funding options under the Affordable Care Act to expand services for targeted low-income populations with mobility needs. It also presents two case studies illustrating how the Atlanta region and the state of Connecticut are making this work. Listen to the podcast introducing the research findings.

The Case of Tennessee Vans: A Social Business Model to Develop and Finance Community Mobility Resources (Community Transportation Magazine, 2013). Presents information on an approach in which public funds are used to initially purchase vans. The vans are then either sold at affordable prices and terms to human service agencies and other groups providing transportation for their service population or used in vanpools. Revenue from both these programs is then recycled into purchasing additional vehicles available at other agencies or as replacements for vanpool vehicles.

Weaving It Together: A Tapestry of Transportation Funding for Older Adults (AARP Public Policy Institute, 2013). This report the major sources of federal funding for older adult transportation and presents seven case studies of local providers from around the country to illustrate how they combine federal, state, and local funding to put quality service on the street. This report also provides examples of how local and state coordination efforts can expand the reach of services funded.

Sharing the Costs of Human Services Transportation (Transit Cooperative Research Program, Report No. 144, 2011). Provides a comprehensive analysis of issues and effective solutions for identifying and sharing the cost of providing transportation services for access to community-based human services programs.

Thinking Outside the Farebox: Creative Approaches to Financing Transit Projects (T4 America, 2012). A guidebook designed to help community leaders get from Point A—the desire to meet the demand for transit—to Point B—raising the money needed to build and operate it.

Related Websites

Center for Transportation Excellence. A website with resources related to public transportation initiatives and ballot measures.

Foundation Center. National clearinghouse of foundations, including their mission, grant procedures, and previous recipients.


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