This is a simple fact! Free Public Transport (FPT) has no possible justification whatsoever unless your governing officials are willing to do something about adjusting the modal mix and bringing down car ownership and use in the city strategically and as quickly as possible SCR – (Systematic Car Reductions).
The tools for achieving these necessary adjustments in the modal split are well known, experience-proven and widely used in cities of all sizes in many parts of the world. There is no possible justification that competent public authorities not be aware of these proven tools and policies. They include most notably:
- Strategic parking policy/control/reductions
- Speed reductions throughout the city and on incoming roads (15/30/50 kph)
- Systematic reallocation of street space presently available to cars, by a policy of converting streets space to more efficient users
- Public transit priority
- Road user charges for cars entering built-up areas
- Increased taxes and other charges for car ownership/use in city
- Incentives for car free housing and local commerce
- Changes of the law through local ordinances or other along the lines of the Belgian Code de la Route which put much greater responsibility in the event of accidents on car drivers
- Greater vigilance of the police
- Stricter enforcement of the law for driving infractions in the courts
- Tougher and more frequent exams of driver to ensure they are really capable of handing their car safely and efficiently in a tough multi-modal, multi-speed 21st century urban driving environment
- And never never never build new or expand existing infrastructure to permit greater throughput or higher speeds for private cars.
Look friends, this is not complicated. If a given city wishes to implement FPT, no problem — but they have to do their homework first. To be responsible to their city they must first study carefully all of the above and adapt and adopt at least five of these measures in parallel with bringing their eventual FPT project on line.
But even before that, what is needed from them and from the beginning is a clear public statement of the specific goals they wish to achieve by this measure, followed by an open society discussion of the efficiency of the proposed FPT solution in each case — as well as looking at yet other goals and measures that may do a better job than the proposed FPT solution.
And of course that is not the end of it. Any FPT project also needs to be reinforced by a carefully thought out program of incentives and improvements for non-motorized transport in all its many forms. Positive incentives such as Park+Ride, carsharing of course, ridesharing, and the full range of affordable new mobility services.
And if they don’t?
What can I say? If they do not do this in your city I would say it is safe to assume that they are not serious people. And I can only hope that the voters are keeping a close eye on them so that in the next election they can be tossed out on their ears in the hope that wiser counsel and decisions will follow.
David Hembrow writes on this date from the Netherlands: There can’t be many ideas so utterly wrong-headed as proposing that a form of transport which consumes energy and creates pollution ought to be “free”.
Sicnarf Nottirb pens from Paris Tennessee: Free Public Transport, Free Parking (of course), Free Roads, Free Speed Limits and as close to Free Gas as you can make it. That’s what makes a country great!
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You can follow the ongoing World Streets series on Free Public Transport via http://worldstreets.wordpress.com/category/free-public-transport