World Streets welcomes discussion of fare free public transport because we believe that it is important to listen to alternative views from different organizations and countries in order to arrive at wise public policy. This contribution comes from one of the most active international groups pushing zero fair public transport, Planka.nu in Sweden.
The following listing of organizations around the world that are “fighting for free public transport” has been compiled by the Swedish activist group Free Public Transport, whose aim is to provide a global forum for the free public transport movement. Their website among other things provides information about local organizations around the world fighting for free public transport, as well as cities which have already implemented it. For their latest listing, click to http://freepublictransports.com/organization/.
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
Just when we thought we were finally starting to figure out how to make a major shift to public transport, this troubling article shows up in the main paper in Tallinn Estonia, at the time of their introduction of a new program to create FFPT Fare Free Public Transport. Now someone has to figure out how to offer Germ Free Public Transport. GFPT. Quite seriously. Where do we start to work out way through this one? Have a look and tell us what you think about it.
In June of 2012 your editor was invited by the mayors of Tallinn to give a public talk to 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
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
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?
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you. Continue reading
Today’s piece by Alex Berthelsen of Planka.nu, Sweden’s largest public transport NGO, is part of World Streets wide-open international brainstorming series on “free public transport”. The most recent article in this series appeared here last week under the title “Why Free Public Transport is a bad idea“, inviting our readers to share their critical thoughts on this important, contentious but ultimately quite subtile subject. The flood gates immediately opened and within days we heard a variety of responses, negative and positive, from thirty readers logging in from more than a dozen different countries. You can access their comments and all the articles in this series via https://worldstreets.wordpress.com/category/free-public-transport/. And as always your critical comments and suggestions are welcome here. Continue reading
From a posting just in from Simon Phillips Norton, Cambridge UK.
I believe that the following arguments can be given in support of the general concept of free transport.
There are a good number of proponents around the world supporting the idea that public transport should be free. It certainly is a tempting idea. 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. 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.
World Streets is pleased to announce publication in the months and maybe more ahead of a series of articles and other media to introduce and investigate this idea in-depth in these pages. We would ask our readers to bear in mind that there is a great deal more to this approach than may at first meet the eye. So let’s see what we get when we stretch our minds together on this perhaps surprisingly important and, we believe, ultimately practical sustainable city concept.
The term “refugee” if used in the context of transportation would normally be understood to mean “the movement of refugees”. But what we fail to comprehend is that for various reasons it is our own transport systems, and the values and decisions that shape them, that are making many of us “refugees” in our own cities? It does not have to be this way.