Why Is Streamline Zero-Fare?

The United States has dozens of zero-fare transit systems — mostly in small, college towns, such as Bozeman. After having discussions with stakeholders and completing various research and analyses, the Human Resource Development Council decided to make Streamline a zero-fare bus system. Other zero-fare transit systems exist in Missoula, MT; Olympia, WA; Logan, UT; and Kansas City, MO.

Reasons Why Streamline Is Zero-Fare:

  1. The expense of collecting the fare almost entirely outweighs the revenue generated from the fare.
  2. Charging a fare can significantly reduce ridership.
  3. Fare collection lengthens travel times because of the additional time needed for passengers to pay the fare.
  4. Public transit benefits the entire community, not just those who ride it by reducing traffic congestion, improving air quality, and freeing up parking for others.
  5. Public transit is a public service similar to public libraries, public parks, public roads, and free public parking.
  6. All public transit systems require some form of subsidy. Cities the size of Bozeman can only generate about eight to nine percent of their operating revenue from fares. The rest of their funding comes from the federal government, state taxes, and local taxes. Instead of generating a small portion of operating revenue from fares, Streamline looks to other partners to help cover operating expenses, including the City of Bozeman, the City of Belgrade, MSU, and ASMSU.
  7. MSU students make up about 60 percent of Streamline ridership. MSU students pay for Streamline every semester as part of their tuition and fees. Streamline cannot double charge these students by requiring them to pay another fare for the bus.
  8. Because Streamline doesn’t charge a fare, it receives more funding from the federal government.