Op-ed: LLoyd Wright In Response to Free Public Transport?

Following up on Simon Norton comments here of 2016/08/07

Lloyd Wright“Public Space” is generally mostly free. This includes footpaths, parks, and town squares. If one advocates charging for public transport, it would seem most of the same arguments would apply to public space. And yet few would actually support such a position, principally on grounds of equity.

There are also ways to make public transport funded on a sustainable basis while making it free to the user. There are cities which utilize a parking levy to completely cover all public transport costs.

Such modal funding transfers also carry a great deal of appropriateness when one considers the actual societal costs brought by private motor vehicle use and the actual societal benefits of collective transport.

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About the author:

Lloyd Wright is Senior Transport Specialist,in the Sustainable Development and Climate Change Department of the Asian Development Bank. Mr. Wright assists in the implementation of ADB’s Sustainable Transport Initiative, which seeks to catalyze innovative projects demonstrating the potential of sustainable transport modes. He is particularly supporting the development of new initiatives for quality public transport systems and non-motorized transport integration.

More information about Lloyd Wright
URL: http://www.adb.org/transport
Email: lwright@adb.org
Whois: http://whois.arin.net/rest/ip/ (IP:

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Some useful FTP references from World Streets

Most consulted W/S articles on FPT since 2009 (And it’s not over yet!):

* Free Public Transport? Hmm, are you quite sure?

*  All W/S coverage of “Free” “Public Transport”

* No FTP without SCR  (Systematic Car Reductions)

To support Tallinn FTP project, W/S readers comment on FPT

Free Public Transport! (But hey, are we talking about the same thing?)

What is the right price for Free Public Transport?

Free-for-all: Organizations supporting free public transport

* Video: Free Public Transport hits the road in Guadalajara


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About the editor:

Eric Britton
13, rue Pasteur. Courbevoie 92400 France

Bio: Founding editor of World Streets (1988), Eric Britton is an American political scientist, teacher, occasional consultant, and sustainability activist who has observed, learned, taught and worked on missions and advisory assignments on all continents. In the autumn of 2019, he committed his remaining life work to the challenges of aggressively countering climate change and specifically greenhouse gas emissions emanating from the mobility sector. He is not worried about running out of work. Further background and updates: @ericbritton | http://bit.ly/2Ti8LsX | #fekbritton | https://twitter.com/ericbritton | and | https://www.linkedin.com/in/ericbritton/ Contact: climate@newmobility.org) | +336 508 80787 (Also WhatApp) | Skype: newmobility.)

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One thought on “Op-ed: LLoyd Wright In Response to Free Public Transport?

  1. Hello Eric,  Thanks for forwarding the short reply by Lloyd Wright on Free Public Transit to the list.  It made me think: Hmm possibly that is a strong, valid point.  Here are some rough, somewhat wideranging and unstructured thoughts :Like sop many issues I feel that this one could benefit from a structured presentation perhaps in the form of a matrix or a similar arrangement to provide an overview of the most important issues, arguments and counter-arguments. (I am open for editing-collaboration for such an undertaking.) However, counterarguments and other considerations came flowing as I sat down to write… The first one was this : In a vaguely similar fashion to cars, and mostly unlike public spaces, walking and cycling, public transit does “exert externalities”.    The second one has to do with barriers to even healthier and better forms of transport (for most of us), for short to medium distances.  So a “complete subsidy” might not be the right path to go, although it could be the thing to do as part of a campaign, or in special circumstances  PT (although much less per km than cars do) most often pollute in various ways  (air, water, local, global, noise, sometimes visual pollution), commands use of big resources / raw materials, and can sometimes make it less attractive to walk or cycle.  The barriers to walking and cycling that are sometimes provided by PT are by providing physical and even social or psychological barriers and because of sheer convenience / low threshold. These threshold  which will reduce public health benefits inherent in those transport forms.  On the other hand using PT instead of driving generally reduces the pollution burden and “magically” induces a bit of walking (or cycling).  In most cases PT, cycling and walking are great partners but the integrated planning for all three (and their relatives) is often lacking.  I think the issue of Free Public Transit  is quite complicated, but like for public transit in general there probably exists a limit where you have created “too much” of it, especially if to the detriment of walkable neigbourhoods and cities plus similarly for cycling.Providing for cycling and walking, I will claim, provides more resilient solutions (or at least very good second choices) than PT, as has been seen in various times of crises, be it natural catastrophes (floods, snowstorms), strikes, electricity outage, fear of terror  etc. 

    The issue of Free Public Transport is certainly not a simple one. I suspect the “right” answer must involve considerations regarding striking an appropriate balance and about conditions, and phases of introduction of free fares and reintroduction of fares.  I suppose a discussion of FPT must hinge on  an analysis of many factors, like the current and latent demand, current and latent ability to pay, other means of financially supporting the underprivileged, to what extent car driving is in effect subsidised, an those subsidies being visible to decision makers, the demographics of the area and of the current and prospective users, financing models, political long-term will to prioritise PT under different financing- and fare-structure scenarios, whether free public transit will possibly entail a deterioration of service, and not least what positive and negative impacts FPT will have in the specific settings of the area served, on cycling and walking.  Finally here I reveal the actual trigger for replying to the email  ….    :-) I spotted a typing mistake in a headline, where it says FTP  instead of FPT.   FTP is somehing I immediately recognise as File Transfer Protocol  (“Some useful FTP references from World Streets”) — Regards / Kveðja / Hilsen Morten Lange, Reykjavík

    From: World Streets: Towards a New Mobility Agenda To: morten7an@yahoo.com Sent: Sunday, 21 August 2016, 11:21 Subject: [New post] Op-ed: LLoyd Wright In Response to Free Public Transport? #yiv5037104606 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv5037104606 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv5037104606 a.yiv5037104606primaryactionlink:link, #yiv5037104606 a.yiv5037104606primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv5037104606 a.yiv5037104606primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv5037104606 a.yiv5037104606primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv5037104606 WordPress.com | Eric Britton posted: “Following up on Simon Norton comments here of 2016/08/07″Public Space” is generally mostly free. This includes footpaths, parks, and town squares. If one advocates charging for public transport, it would seem most of the same arguments would apply to ” | |


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