In 2017, for the first time in over 15 years, Caltrain undertook a fare study to analyze its fare structure and develop recommendations for the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board. The aim was to develop fare policy goals and help implement supportive policies.
RSG conducted a survey and study of demand elasticity for Caltrain as part of the study. We designed the questionnaire to collect information on purchasing and riding behavior and conducted the field effort, recruiting over 3,000 respondents. The survey included two sets of stated preference experiments: one shown to frequent Caltrain riders (for whom a monthly pass may be a viable option) and the other shown to infrequent riders.
From these sets of data, we developed two models to predict rider behavior under different fare levels and crowding conditions. The models were combined into a single simulator to predict systemwide ridership and revenue for a given fare structure, including how riders of different income levels are affected. The final simulator also allows for testing different fares at several discount levels by station pair.
Caltrain has used the simulation model frequently to test fare policies and to change them as necessary based on the fare policy objectives that were developed as part of the study.