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 wide-ranging and unstructured thoughts:
Like so 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.
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 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.
Simon Norton comments: Submitted on 2016/08/07
There are 2 overriding arguments for free transport:
- It avoids the cost (in both person power and time) of fare collection. The latter is particularly relevant when a bus has to spend ages at bus stops collecting fares from boarding passengers. Then motorists demand that the bus pulls into a layby so that they can get past, and the bus has to waste further time waiting to pull out after all the fares are collected.
- It encourages people to think of public transport as the default option. This increases the likelihood of it being able to provide a comprehensive service, as on less used routes it will be able to capture a high proportion of the overall travel demand.
Now for some counter arguments to the ones put forward by Eric:
There are a good number of proponents around the world — politicians and activists for the most part — supporting the idea that public transport should be free. It certainly is a tempting idea on a number of grounds. And if we here at World Streets have our own thoughts on the subject (stay tuned), it is always good practice to check out both sides of the issues. to get the ball rolling, just below you will find four short statements taken from the Wikipedia entry, setting out arguments against FPT. More to follow on this but in the meantime we are interested in hearing from our readers and colleagues around the world both with (a) their comments on these criticisms and (b) yet other critical views. (This is sure to be a bit exciting.)
* Note: See numerous, extensive comments below.
Bangkok Skytrain: Note the huge investment in public transport to solve the problem. Oops!
Public transport in Kuala Lumpur: A paradigm shift
“MAY 19 — The Malaysian Government has established an objective of improving public transport in urban areas around the country as a core to stimulate economic growth and relieve traffic congestion. In order to achieve the stated objectives, the government has allocated funds worth up to RM180 billion to be invested in new public transportation systems.
“For example, this commitment can be reflected on the approval of large scale public transportation projects such as the MRT Line 2, LRT 3, HSR (High Speed Rail) KL-Singapore and BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) on the Federal Highway. The shift in focus from building more roads and highways back to improving public transport will no doubt be welcome to the urban population.
“However, despite these colossal public transportation investments, have we gone far enough to ensure public transport usage in Kuala Lumpur is a feasible alternative option to car use? I believe that there are several elements that can be addressed to further improve the attractiveness and effectiveness of the Greater Kuala Lumpur Public Transport Master Plan.”
The complete history of the Greek debt drama in charts
* By Matt Philips, Quartz, 30 June 2015. Full article and all charts available from Quartz here
The value of any analysis depends, to a large extent, on the beginning and ending you choose.
So it is with Greece, which is seeing its simmering, half-decade-long debt crisis come to one of its periodic boils—and perhaps a final explosion.
Where to start? Records of Greek public debts stretch back at least as far as the Peloponnesian war—around 400 BCE. Should that be included? Or how about the fact that the modern nationstate of Greece has been in default for roughly half of the years since it gained independence from the Ottoman Empire in the 1830s? (After all, some trace Greek resistance to taxation to the historical taxes levied by the conquering Turks.)
For simplicity’s sake, let’s just start in the years before Greece joined the euro. In the 1980s, and early 1990s, the Greek economy was a bit of a mess.