FREE PUBLIC TRANSPORT: THE VISION OF PLANKA.NU

Planka.nu is a network of organizations in Sweden and Norway promoting tax-financed zero-fare public transport with chapters in Stockholm, Gothenburg, Skåne, Östergötland and Oslo.[1] Planka.nu was founded in 2001 by the Swedish Anarcho-syndicalist Youth Federation in response to the increasingly expensive ticket prices in the public transport system in Stockholm. The campaign has received much attention because of the controversial methods used to promote free public transport: Planka.nu encourage people to fare-dodge in the public transport, aiding its members in paying penalty fares through the insurance fund p-kassan.

Here is some of their thinking on this subtle topic for transport planners, politicians and civil society.

In Stockholm, Gothenburg, Ostergotland and Helsinki commuters are taking the initiative in the public transportation. Buses, trams, commuter trains and subways are necessary for us to get around in society. We cannot choose to walk 5 kilometers if it does not suit us to pay the fare. The public transportation should be like the sidewalk – paid by all, free to walk on. It would be as absurd to charge for it, as charging for public transportation.

Freeriding insurance
United we stand strong! “P-kassan” – the freeriding insurance – is a cooperation between people in similar situations. We do not afford the fare or do not want to pay it. You pay a small amount to the fund and if you get caught freeriding your bill is payed. The idea of this insurance is not new. It has been tried before and for quite some time, especially by students in the university cities, and has worked well even though in a small scale. The difference is that we have a greater goal than just helping each other to freeride. We want free public transportation, owned by us together and controlled by the workers in it.

Everyone will benefit from free transport
In Stockholm, all those who make less then 75 000 kronor per month (about 8300 euros) would benefit by letting a small tax raise finance the public transportation. Free public transportation is a way of taking from the richest and giving to the rest of us. It is about time for that kind of redistribution in our segregated cities.

And think about the socioeconomic gains that could be achieved by getting rid of all the ticket lines, tickets and control systems. Lots of money goes to these systems which leads to nothing but a bad mood in our common spaces.

We need to prioritize public transportations instead of cars
In the long run free public transportation would lead to other positive effects, like a better urban environment with less traffic jams. Today car traffic is prioritized at the expense of public transportation. Roads are financed by tax money and are free to use, but the public transportation is financed by fares. It is rather strange that the authorities punish those who choose the means of travel that suits the environment best.

Join the Planku freerider insurance fund and take part in the struggle for free public transportation!. They also invite you to download a flyer on how to start your own solidarity fund!  – http://cdn.planka.nu/wp-content/uploads/2006/04/how-to-print.pdf

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Update of 19 May 2018

So since our introduction text was written, some chapters have actually closed down – so right now we are in Stockholm and Gothenburg.

The 2 municipalities that introduced fare-free transport this year (in April) were Fagersta and Sala. Together with veteran fare free transport city Avesta they form a “fare free triangle”  which was the title of the article about it in left-leaning daily paper ETC.

We are used to celebrate progress in smaller parts of Sweden or abroad, but this summer a nice reform have been passed. All school kids från 13-17 will get free rides during the summer holiday. Our younger members did some campaigning around it, and now it looks widely supported by the polictical parties across the board.

It might be a good way to introduce the idea on a larger scale, and the young activists are planning to march under the banner “If you liked the summer vacation cards, you’re gonna love fare free public transport”.

Otherwise, we are currently doing the last bits of work on a new book, focused on lessons learned from our activism. It’s not a sequel to The Traffic Power Structure (I hope you have a copy of this!) but less focused on theory. We wrote a chapter on our org in the antology Free Public Transit as well, released this year!

Let us know any questions you might have about this!

Christian Tengblad

 

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For more information from Planku about the global free public transport movement, please visit  http://planka.nu/eng/ and  freepublictransports.com . Wikipedia also has a good background piece on them at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planka.nu. (Though it could stand to be updated and expanded.)

 

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Contact and eventual questions: Christian Tengblad at christian.tengblad@gmail.com

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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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