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Free public transport
There are a large number of free bus services. Some of these are funded by private businesses (such as the merchants in a shopping mall) in the hope that doing so will increase sales or other revenue from increased foot traffic or ease of travel. Some, such as airport connectors, are funded by government agencies to ease bottlenecks or fill short gaps in the transport network, or as part of the services offered by a public facility. Employers often operate free shuttles as a benefit to their employees, or as part of a congestion mitigation agreement with a local government.
Some activists promote the idea that all the public transportation in a given city or community should be free. They claim that this would make the system more accessible and fair for low-income residents, and provide benefits such as decreased congestion, decreased air pollution from cars and related improvements in public health, fewer traffic accidents, easier parking, savings from reduced wear and tear on roads, and savings from not having to pay for fare collection equipment and personnel.
Examples of City Wide Free Transport
- Whidbey Island and Camano Island, Washington State – since 1987
- Chapel Hill, North Carolina
- Vail, Colorado – over 20 hours of service every day during Winter
- Logan, Utah and Cache Valley – Logan since 1992 and Cache Valley since 2000
- Clemson, South Carolina
- Commerce, California
- Châteauroux, France
- Compiègne, France; free bus services since 1990s
- Hasselt, Belgium – free bus services since July 1, 1997 (after increasing bus service substantially), which made expensive investments in streets and parking facilities unnecessary.
- Lübben, Germany – influenced by Hasselt
- Mariehamn, Finland – in addition to free bus services, persons and bicycles travel free of charge with the archipelago ferries (you pay a fee for motorcycles, cars, caravans and other vehicles).
- Nova Gorica, Slovenia – since April 2006.
- Türi, Estonia
- Vitré, France – since spring 2001.
- Övertorneå, Sweden – even 70 km free rides on local buses in this rural community
Examples of Limited Free Transport
- Ann Arbor, Michigan— free bus services between University of Michigan campuses and student housing. UofM students are now also able to ride all routes of the AATA buses for free by showing their student card. While not “free for all” it is included in the package for students. Also, AATA runs a service called “the Link” which runs around the downtown and campus area and is currently free (for everyone) to ride.
- Auckland, New Zealand— a free CBD loop service links the ferry terminus, railway station, universities, theatres, casino, galleries and shopping districts using hybrid electric buses.
- Austin, Texas– free bus service (under citywide bus system Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority) is provided between the University of Texas campus and student housing, downtown trolley buses are free as well. Regular bus routes are free during “Ozone Action Days” to encourage more car owners to ride the bus and combat high levels of ozone pollution on a given day.
- Brisbane, Australiahas free bus trips around “The Loop” in the CBD on two routes mirroring each other, varying only because of Brisbane’s one-way street grid.
- Calgary, Canada– Free light rail transit within the downtown core.
- Denver, Colorado— Free 16th Street Mall shuttle bus downtown; free transit for many public school students
- Dordrecht— bus and ferry, some Saturdays at the end of each year
- Gent— free night bus services (weekends only)
- Halifax, Nova Scotia– free bus route around the downtown area
- Huddersfield, England– Free Townbus daytime bus services in town centre
- Leeds, England– Free Citybus daytime bus services in city centre
- London, England– buses and trams are free for people under 16, and students aged 16 and 17. People 60 or over and eligible disabled folks ride the entire system for free.
- Manchester, England— Free “Metroshuttle” daytime bus services in city centre
- Melbournein Australia has a free tram around the city center, and a free bus to popular tourist attractions. Both of these connect to other public transport. Free public transport is sometimes offered on major holidays such as Christmas and New Years Eve.
- Noordwijk/Oegstgeest— Leiden Transferium — The Hague, express bus, running on weekdays during daytime, free of charge as a test during 2004; it was intended for commuters working in The Hague and living in Leiden or beyond who would otherwise travel by car to the Hague, to promote parking at the Transferium and continuing the journey by bus; the aim was to reduce road traffic congestion between Leiden and The Hague. The test was paid by the province of South Holland. It was discontinued in 2005.
- Perth, Australiahas free bus and train trips around the city centre (the “Free Transit Zone”), including three high-frequency Central Area Transit(CAT) bus routes. This is also in Fremantle and recently added in Joondalup.
- Pittsburgh, PAFree “T” light rail service within downtown. Also, students at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh receive free rides with a school ID.
- Portland, Oregon(the “Fareless Square“), Seattle, Washington (the “Ride Free Area”) and Calgary, Alberta (the “7th Avenue Free Fare Zone”) offer free public transit within their downtowns.
- Renesse (mun. Schouwen-Duiveland), Netherlands— free bus services in the area (in summer only)
- Seattle, Washington— Metro Transit buses are free from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. in Downtown Seattle.
- Sydneyin Australia also offers occasional free public transport travel to and from events at particular times, notably New Years Eve celebrations in Sydney CBD, or to ANZAC War Memorial Services for veterans. The rationale is a mix of traffic reduction and cultural recognition.
- Tarbesin France offers a year-long free shuttle bus around the city, linking the main spots.
- Viennain Austria – students under 19 can travel free on sundays and school holidays
- Wakefield, England– Free Citybus daytime bus services in city centre
- Washington, D.C.—Congressional Subway — small free metro system
- Zagreb, Croatia– buses and trams are free for university students
- Community bicycle programs, providing free bicyclefor short-term public use.
- some ferries, such as the Staten Island Ferry, the Woolwich Ferryand the IJ ferries in Amsterdam, which are used as an alternative to bridges, which would have been very high in the port. These are free, just as a bridge would have been.
- short-distance ‘public transport’ such as elevator, escalator, moving sidewalk (horizontal and inclined); these are often part of a larger public transport system or business (e.g. shop), of which the products and services are not free.
- Jump up^http://transit.metrokc.gov/tops/bus/ridefree.html
1 June 2018. This version of the page has been revised. Besides normal editing, the reason for revision may have been that this version contains factual inaccuracies, vandalism, or material not compatible with the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.
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Bio: Educated as an international development economist, Eric Britton is an American political scientist, teacher and sustainability activist who has worked on missions and advisory assignments on all continents. Professor of Sustainable Development, Economy and Democracy at the Institut Supérieur de Gestion (Paris), he is also MD of EcoPlan Association, an independent advisory network providing strategic counsel for government and business on policy and decision issues involving complex systems, social-technical change, civil society and sustainable development. Founding editor of World Streets: The Politics of Transport in Cities | See Britton online at https://goo.gl/9CJXTh and @ericbritton