Public transport integration: a proposal for a single transit fare in Rio Janeiro city

Publication Type:

Conference Paper


Gerpisa colloquium, Paris (2019)


fare integration, Public transport, single transit fare, Sustainable urban mobility


Implanting an urban mobility system encompasses to think in a transport network, i.e., an integrated and multimodal transit system that matches the needs of its users. Making transport integrated and efficient come as apart of a larger change that attempts to improve the quality and accessibility of the public transport network and, hence, to increase ridership and decrease car dependence.

Effective integration refers to the alignment of operational, physical and pricing. The first is related to the information available and to the synchronization between different networks, headways, and timetables. Physical integration relates to the type of infrastructure that is available in the way from one mode of transport to another, if it is done on the same level, if it has weather protection and others. Fare integration is when the price paid for two tickets of different modes (or more) costs less than the sum of each ticket. The fare reduction, besides the contribution to the improvement of the congested transit, can mainly help people from metropolitan areas to access different areas of the city, especially going to or from the workplaces. A simple, integrated, user-friendly fare system, coherent with a multi-modal transfer-based system can provide passengers with more route options, thus improving equity and service in general. Especially in developing countries, like Brazil, people take long commutes daily, then encouraging public transport is essential to enable accessibility and a sustainable urban mobility. The paper aims to propose a single fare for the city of Rio de Janeiro.

Some experts claim fare system is critical in a series of policies and planning initiatives, and impact in the increasing of public transport attractiveness. They suggest that fare integration should, therefore, be the first step in any transit improvement plan. However, Rio de Janeiro still faces the challenge of fare integration. Despite initiatives of fare reduction in Rio de Janeiro, for example, when using metro and rail system, or in using two buses consecutively, there still is no kind of single fare that enables the reduction when using more than two systems and there is no reduction for all the combination of modes of transport. Additionally, there is also a difference about the subsidy given regarding the management of the system, the rail system is the only one that is managed by the state, and it is subsidized, while the rest of the system does not have subsidies and is managed by the municipality.

In order to propose a single fare for the city of Rio de Janeiro, we identified different approaches concern to the topic in other Brazilian and foreign cities from literature review. Systematically, we selected articles about fare integration using an online subscription-based scientific citation indexing service and a software to support the bibliometric analysis. Furthermore, we examined the operational data about each transport moden that runs in the city and in the metropolitan area to get a quantitative base to estimate inputs aiming to define a single fare for the city transport network. The data about operations, costs, and demands of the different transport modes were essential to help understand the current panorama of the city; and, to define a semi-structured guide to interview some stakeholders responsible for the operation of the transport system.

Following, using data of peak hour, we considered three sceneries to define the single fare proposed to Rio de Janeiro:

Scenery 1 - The current policy integration is maintained, and a new one will be offered as another option for the user. The citizen can opt for the current integration system or the proposed new integration system;
Scenery 2 - The current subsidy policy will be partially extinguished, but the fare integration of the modes of transportation controlled by the municipality will be maintained. This scenery takes into account that the tariff already covers the costs of integration inside Rio Janeiro city and the agreements defined priorly;
Scenery 3 - The current policy integration will be totally extinguish, and it will be offered only the new integrated ticket fare as an alternative to integration.

Understanding the subsidies impact on the ticketing price, for the operating concessionaires and the users (especially for the most socioeconomic vulnerable ones), we also determined two subsections (A and B) for each of the scenarios. The subsection A relates to a single fare defined without subsidies by the city and in the subsection B, we considered that the state government would invest the same amount that it does currently to the whole transport system (municipal or metropolitan managed). The analysis of sceneries indicated that it is necessary subsidies to make the fare accessible to users.

The paper intends to contribute to practitioners in developing strategies and policies to improve urban mobility. The sceneries and how we defined the single fare in Rio de Janeiro can be a model for other cities to get multimodal integrated transport networks. The paper also contributes to the literature about the integration of transport modes since it addresses key topics in the field. Effective fare integration in transport systems is essential to make a more democratic, inclusive and sustainable city. However, it is also a challenge as it involves a complex arena where many stakeholders are interconnected.

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