Zero Fare Public Transport in Tallinn shows a way

The topic of “free public transport” (FPT), or better yet “zero fare public transport” (ZFPT), is one that has gotten considerable attention here in World Streets over the last several years, on the grounds that it is an extremely rich concept which is worthy of careful attention. If at first humanistic and caring glance it appears to be a great and just concept, the fact is that like much of life it is more than a little complicated. Let us have a look at a recent article which first appeared in the pages of our sister publication Citiscope, which we reproduce here with their and the author’s permission. ZFPT in Tallinn, an insider’s view
estonia tallinn bus fpt

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Congestion Offsets vs Road Pricing: The quest for efficiency and equity

Matthew Bradley and Jeff Kenworthy help us to set out on our search for USA tollbooth attendenteconomic instruments that can be effective in reducing traffic congestion while leveling the playing field between cars and other transport in ways that are both efficient and equitable.  They tell us that: “A major part of the urban transport problem today is a failure from the very beginning to acknowledge that congestion is fundamentally inequitable and unfair, impractical to construct away, and therefore must be properly charged for and controlled to eliminate the transport system dysfunction which is systemic in cities today.” Recommended reading for anyone with  a serious interest in how to get the most out of economic instruments in our troubled, seriously underperforming sector.

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Congestion Relief Strategies for Asian Cities

This article by Todd Litman of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute has just appeared in the December 2013 issue of the United Nation’s “Transport and Communications Bulletin for Asia and the Pacific.”  It reinforces many of the strategies and principles set out in the New Mobility Agenda 2014/15 program, and  provides useful reading for anybody concerned with transportation, mobility and public space improvements in Penang and George Town.  A summary introduction to the full paper follows extracting a final section on Optimal Congestion Solutions  and the Conclusions. The full paper is recommended and freely available at http://www.unescap.org/ttdw/Publications/TPTS_pubs/bulletin82/b82_Chapter1.pdf.

penang_bridge_toll

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William Vickerey: On Principles of Efficient Congestion Pricing

William Spenser Vickerey, winner of the Nobel Prize for Economics, is William Vickereyconsidered the father of Congestion Pricing. He first proposed it in 1952, for the New York City subway system, recommending that fares be increased in peak times and in high-traffic sections and be lowered in others. Elected officials considered it risky at the time, and the technology was not ready. Later, he made a similar proposal for road pricing.

This article was written in 1992 by Todd Litman, executive director of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, to summarize some of the defining  principles set out in Vickerey’s extensive path-breaking early extensive pathbreaking contributions which in many ways defined the field. This essay can be found in its original form in the website of the Institute  at http://www.vtpi.org/vickrey.htm.

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Rent Seeking . . . and Transportation Service Innovations

impossible - Steve Blank on Rent seekersThis double blog reposting on this important topic is worthy of our readers’ attention on several grounds. Here at World Streets we are, after all, in a very real way in the transportation service innovations business, that being a key underpinning of the transition and the “politics of transport in cities”.  We recommend you consult it in two passes: the first being to read below the full text of Dave King’s concise commentary that appeared yesterday, 26 June, in “Getting from here to there”. And from there you may wish to move on to the full piece of Steve Blank in the Berkeley blog – click here.

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Speeding to a standstill

This is an interesting and useful article. The topic is timely and important. The speeding car  mando2802.edublogs.orgapproach and methodology are interesting.  And in it  you will find a certain number of points  which I regard as timely, important and very much worth saying again and again. In a couple of instances I find their conclusions and interpretations a bit puzzling, but let me keep them to myself for now and avoid getting between you and the authors. It’s time to step aside and let them speak for themselves.

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Congestion Pricing: Neoliberal approaches and their results in three world cities

In 2013 we shall be giving quite a lot of attention to congestion pricing or sweden stockholm congestoin chargingcharging by its many names and variants, all of which sharing the goal of finding ways to make drivers pay for entry and use of a scarce resource, road space in city centers . This fascinating article by Themis Chronopoulos which is introduced here takes quite an original point of view in his thorough analysis of three of the most recent and widely followed  projects (or in the case of New York City, would-be project). (Note: A quick search of Google this morning called up some 4,370,000 references under the single term of congestion pricing. Something must be going on.) Continue reading

Op-Ed: Zurich’s Parking Revolution

Parking policy and practice in a city is a marker, a litmus test  of its collective ws-parkingcommitment to an efficient and beautiful city.  More than that, the policy has to be carefully thought out, agilely negotiated and executed with long-term commitment.  Stop-and-start policies in such important areas are the mark of political immaturity. So if your city does NOT have such a policy, and is NOT applying it with continuity and consistency, then sorry to say you are far from the front rank of sustainable cities.

It’s a choice, a political choice, not only of those public servants and elected officials who are during their term responsible for transport, public space and life quality matters in the city, but above all, and ultimately far more important, the citizenry. The active citizenry. So with that behind us, let’s see what the fresh eyes of a visiting American academic and transportation engineer spotted and have to say about parking policy and performance in the beautiful city of Zürich. Continue reading

To support the Tallinn FPT project, World Streets readers comment on Free Public Transport

In June of 2012 your editor was invited by the mayors of Tallinn to give a public talk mayor of tallinnto comment on how some of the policy concepts developed  over the last two decades under the New Mobility Consult program might be put to work to support their decision to take new approaches to transport policy challenges starting in 2013.  Subsequent to that visit we signed with the City of Tallinn a public agreement of strategic cooperation over 2013.

The first transformative event they were considering for 2013 was  the first-ever Free Public Transport project in a European capital. After careful planning their project went into service on 1 January.  In the run-up to this important event World Streets in cooperation with our readers has been developing and drawing to the city’s attention a broad repertory of expert comments on FPT, all of which you can see at https://worldstreets.wordpress.com/category/free-public-transport/. We invited contributing editor Anzir Boodoo to read through  the various comments and see if he could put them in some kind of order for our busy readers in a single article, which you can now read here. Continue reading

What is the right price for “Free” Public Transport?

No Dorothy, it would be nice but there is no such thing as a free lunch. Not even in Kansas. Our cities need money to operate and maintain all the many parts of their hopefully high quality “public transport” systems”, but they also need schools, sanitation, health facilities, elderly care,  parks and public spaces, security, jobs to give everyone a chance for a full life in a peaceful community . . . and the long list goes on.  Transport, which can finance itself largely, if you have the brains to get it right, should not be poaching from these no-less critical basic needs of the community.  More,  we need our public transport systems (21st century definitions) to be both freely and extensively used (what is sadder than an empty bus!) — and at the same time build in provisions so that the system is fully equitable as well as efficient. Continue reading

Learning from Lyon: Free Public Transport that really works

Here is a “free transport project” that is working remarkably well: In the Spring of 2005 the community of Greater Lyon in cooperation with their supplier JCDecaux launched the world’s first mega Public Bike System, Vélo’v. The project put some 3000 bikes into service, available in about 300 stations spread for the most part over the City of Lyon. All this is successful, amply detailed in many places and continues to this day to yield yeoman service for some 60,000 registered users (including the author). To gain access to the system, in addition to one day or one week tickets, the user pays an annual fee of € 25, and when using a bike a caution is debited from the users credit card until it is returned to a parking slot. From a user perspective it is a very successful system and use experience.

* But where is the “free public transport” element?

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

Please see   for the latesst updte to this article and series.

On 22 June 2010 we posted in these pages an invitation to an open thinking exercise welcoming comments and views on the topic of “Free Public Transport”. Two weeks later to get the ball rolling we followed up with a first article setting out some basic principles under the title “Why Free Public Transport is perhaps a bad idea”. That posting has been among the more widely read here; as of this morning having been accessed 4,503 times. Beyond that it opened up a small Tsunami of comments, reactions and clarifications, a number of which of high interest and thoughtfulness.

But here is the joker: Judging from the responses and conversations that followed it was clear that almost everybody was reading the word “Free” in that phrase as an adjective. But that is not quite what we had in mind. Rather it was part of what we wanted to have views on, but only part of it. Continue reading

Some Early References on Free Public Transport

This list is taken from the 2010 posting provided by the Free public transportation Debate at http://debatepedia.idebate.org/en/index.php/Debate:_Free_public_transportation. It needs to be updated but still is a useful point of reference, along with the latest Wikipedia entry at Free Public Transport. Please send us your updates either as Comments here, or to editor@worldstreets.org. Thank you. Continue reading

Brief: L.A. County toll lanes get smooth start, despite grumbling
As officials unveiled the  first toll lanes on an 11-mile stretch of the 110 Freeway this weekend, some drivers said they had questions about how the new fare program worked. The express lanes were created using existing carpool lanes. As a result, drivers now can pay to leave mixed-flow traffic and enter the express lanes, saving what officials said could be two to three minutes a mile. The tolls vary from 25 cents to $1.40 a mile, depending on congestion and demand. Officials aim to keep travel speeds in the express lanes at least 45 miles per hour. They estimate the average toll  will be between $4 and $7 a trip, though it could be as much as $15.40.                     * Click here for full text

Brief: Los Angeles toll lanes get smooth start, despite some grumbling

Paris: Ambitious mobility plans for economy, efficiency and equity.
This ambitious effort on the part of Paris’s mayor and his team is well worth following, even if for some it is may be a bit inconvenient for those not able to easily read in French. The original article appears here. And here in the event is the Google translation. (You may note that this article appears in a journal loved and run by the French Right, the mayor’s fierce opponents, so caveat lector.)

Brief: Paris – Ambitious mobility plans for economy, efficiency and equity.

Op-Ed: A rethinking of what parking is in the first place

“If your parking policy debates are going in circles, there is a good chance the protagonists are ‘framing’ parking in totally different ways.”  (Let’s see what Paul Barter of Reinventing Parking had to say  on this earlier today in Singapore.) Continue reading

Whitelegg proposes radical overhaul and extension of congestion charge in London.

This report by Professor John Whitelegg scrutinizes the possibilities for developing the existing London congestion charge as a response to concerns about future levels of congestion, air pollution and health and economic efficiency. These concerns are important policy considerations at any time but against a background of forecast increases in population and economic activity in the Greater London area they become more important still. World Streets is more than pleased to share this original work with our readers, not less because we take a strong stance against the introduction of technology-based road pricing in cities of the Global South, where it is our view here are more effective ways of achieving the goals of traffic reduction and much-needed new sources of income for public and non-motorised transport. Let’s see what John has to say in this timely report from a London perspective. Continue reading

Public audit and transport budget transparency: Pune India

Parisar is a civil society organization in Pune India working on lobbying and advocacy for sustainable development. Its work focuses mainly on sustainable urban transport, since it recognizes that unsustainable transport policies and systems are the foremost threat to urban environment and quality of life. This article, kindly shared with us by their blog team at http://www.parisar.org/, reports on an activity the likes of which we would like to see in every city in the world — a continuing citizen audit of the city’s budget, and in particular those aspects that relate to transportation investments and expenditures. Continue reading

Mr. Meter on America’s “Cash for Clunkers”

(While Lee Schipper is recovering, here is another example of his always-on prescience in the poorly lit streets of this gasping planet.) If matters of climate, sustainable transportation and careful use of scarce resources are close to your heart, and you happen to be European, you may have some reserves about your country’s ecologically billed, and energetically buttressed “Cash for Clunkers” (in more polite Euro language of course) program. Let a couple of Americans energy policy experts help you feel a bit less embarrassed. You are not alone. Continue reading