Hello Eric, Thanks for forwarding the short reply by Lloyd Wright on Free Public Transit to the list. It made me think: Hmm possibly the comparison of Free Public Transit to public spaces that are generally open to use by the population free of charge is a strong, valid point. Beyond that 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.
From the Archives. George Town Malaysia. Sept 23 , 2013 http://themalaymailonline.com/ —
By Opalyn Mok
A predilection for cars means that 80 per cent of transport funding is used to cater for the needs of 20 per cent of society, according to a public transport proponent today.
World Car Free Day founder Eric Britton pointed out this uneven distribution in public expenditure was an issue in many modern cities, including Penang.
“It should be the other way around where only 20 per cent funding is needed and it can fulfil the needs of 80 per cent of the society,” he said during a media focus group under the Sustainable Penang: Toward a New Mobility Agenda two-week programme this morning.
In a bid to change that, Britton is here for the two-week Sustainable Penang: Towards a New Mobility Agenda.