Transit systems all over the country routinely spend more than they bring in through ridership fares — usually a lot more. That certainly has been the case in Lawrence, which has caused a question to linger: Why not make the T free to ride and try to get as many people using the bus system as possible?
Well, it looks like the city is going to spend some time studying that idea. City commissioners at their meeting on Tuesday are being asked to spend $200,000 for a new transit study that will examine several issues, including the idea of a fare-free system.
If for some reason you don’t study the city’s transit budget, here are the basic numbers: The city expects to collect about $400,000 in fares in 2016. It expects to spend about $3 million to $4 million in operating expenses and quite a bit more in capital expenses.
So, the argument from proponents of a fare free system is that $400,000 is not doing much to offset the expenses of the transit system, but the fares may be serving as a deterrent for some people to ride the system.
(Read more: Town Talk Feed)