A (Free) Ticket to Ride: Experimental Evidence on the Effects of Means-Tested Public Transportation Subsidies
Last registered on March 06, 2020

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
A (Free) Ticket to Ride: Experimental Evidence on the Effects of Means-Tested Public Transportation Subsidies
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0005538
Initial registration date
March 06, 2020
Last updated
March 06, 2020 3:02 PM EST
Location(s)

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Primary Investigator
Affiliation
University of Notre Dame
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
University of California -- Irvine
PI Affiliation
Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities at the University of Notre Dame
Additional Trial Information
Status
On going
Start date
2019-03-13
End date
2022-06-30
Secondary IDs
Abstract
Reduced transit fare programs targeted at low-income people are increasingly prevalent. This study employs a randomized-controlled trial to select a group of low-income residents in King County, Washington to receive up to six months of free public transit. This experiment will study the effect of fully-subsidized public transportation on travel habits, employment, and a series of secondary outcomes, including the use of public benefits, health, residential mobility, criminal justice, and well-being.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Brough, Rebecca, Matthew Freedman and David Phillips. 2020. "A (Free) Ticket to Ride: Experimental Evidence on the Effects of Means-Tested Public Transportation Subsidies." AEA RCT Registry. March 06. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.5538-1.0.
Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
Intervention Start Date
2019-03-13
Intervention End Date
2020-06-30
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Primary outcomes include:
1.) Travel habits and use of public transportation
2.) Employment
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary outcomes include:
1.) Use of public benefits
2.) Health
3.) Residential mobility
4.) Criminal justice
5.) Well-being
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
The King County Executive Office, King County Metro Transit, the Department of Social and Human Services (DSHS), UC- Irvine, and the Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities (LEO) at the University of Notre Dame have partnered to implement a randomized-controlled trial that will study the effect of fully-subsidized public transportation on travel habits, employment, and a series of secondary outcomes for low-income residents in King County. Participants can enroll in this study at one of ten DSHS offices throughout King County; enrollment often occurs in conjunction with public benefits’ enrollment and re-certification appointments. Clients not already enrolled in the ORCA LIFT program and who have income at or below 200% of the federal poverty are eligible to partake in the study. Upon enrollment, clients are randomly assigned one of two metro cards: a “passport” card that provides up to 6 months’ worth of free transportation, or a regular ORCA LIFT card pre-loaded with $10 worth of transit.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Participants are randomized using a random number generator built-in to the intake survey. This random number generator is a uniform distribution function that generates a number between 0 and 1.

Prior to Feb 17, 2020, individuals enrolling in the study were placed in the control group if they received a random number greater than 1/3; otherwise, individuals were placed in the treatment group.

After Feb 17. 2020, individuals enrolling in the study were placed in the control group if they received a random number greater than 1/2; otherwise, individuals were placed in the treatment group.
Randomization Unit
Randomization occurs at the individual level.
Was the treatment clustered?
No
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
NA
Sample size: planned number of observations
This study is expected to conclude enrollment with 2,012 individuals.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Enrollment is expected to conclude with a sample size of 2,012; 41% of the study sample (819 participants) will be in the treatment group, and 59% of the study sample (1,193 participants) will be in the control group.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
University of Notre Dame Research Compliance
IRB Approval Date
2019-02-22
IRB Approval Number
18-08-4821
Analysis Plan

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