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.
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:
The Consumer Association of Penang organized a National Seminar on Changing directions from 7-10 September 2001 in Penang, subsequent to which a report was published and we now make freely available here in its entirety at https://goo.gl/kQVD0T. This is a remarkably prescient document which was largely ignored at the time despite the vigorous effort of the Consumers’ Association of Penang and others in the city’s lively civil society and NGOs. Somehow neither Penang or the national government were prepared to devote time and resources to finding the path to sustainable transport in cities. (And they were not the only ones.)
While Penang is thinking once again about its transportation arrangements, we are hearing a lot of late about BRT and tramways — and rightfully. Both a huge improvement over earlier proposals for a mad spaghetti mix of intrusive monorails, elevated LRT/LRV systems, Sky Cabs hanging uselessly in the horizon, over-built road infrastructure projects to serve and encourage yet more car traffic, and a backbreaking proposal for a sea tunnel that would bring yet more traffic into the island and in the process extend and multiply today’s traffic mess and associated inconveniencies
But before we make up our minds let’s also give a thought to another less well known mobility option, the Mobilien. It may be just what you were looking for.
From Sustainable Penang WhatsApp 24/7 public dialogue of this date:
As previously documented on World Streets the city of Tallinn, Estonia implemented Free Fare Public Transportation (FFPT) in January of 2013 for all registered citizens of the city. A year and a half into this policy voices from politicians, the media and academia presented an array of opinions in favour of, and refuting benefits of the policy. Thus in May of 2014 I visited Tallinn to conduct interviews with City staff, independent environmentalist consultants and academics alike for my master’s thesis in Urban and Regional Planning Studies at the London School of Economics. My research question was ‘Is Tallinn, Estonia’s free fare public transportation policy meeting its claimed motives as stated by the city’s municipal leaders?’