Free and accessible transit now

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epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Free Public Transport and the Right to the City

quote:

Free public transport and citizen participation

For citizens to be able to feel that their taxes are not going to be spent behind closed doors, a good idea could be the parallel introduction of participatory budgeting on a municipal level. In this way people will be able to determine what portion of the city’s budget should be spent in the form of subsidies for FPT, and thus have an idea of what the real costs are and how they can best be covered. As sociologist Erik Olin Wright suggests [8], public transportation has to be paid for but it should not be paid for through the purchase of tickets by individual riders—it should be paid for by society as a whole.

“This should not be thought of as a ‘subsidy’, in the sense of a transfer of resources to an inefficient service in order for it to survive,” he says, “but rather as the optimal allocation of our resources to create the transportation environment in which people can make sensible individual choices between public and private means of transformation that reflect the true costs of these alternatives.”

From this follows that FPT is not a panacea but should be thought of in relation to the general struggle for the right to the city. Its implementation through the current non-transparent mechanisms of local authorities can compromise the whole idea. Instead, FTP should be linked to projects like participatory budgeting and libertarian municipalism, in order to allow citizens themselves to observe the way their taxes are being spent.

The implementation of FPT cannot be left to local bureaucrats. There must be grassroots pressure by social movements. A good example for such activism can be found in the Swedish and Norwegian network Planka. Part of their activities is the so called freeriding insurance [9]. With it they aim at showing how FPT can function in a grassroots manner. In its essence it is a cooperative fund, to which members contribute monthly with certain small amounts of money, and in case they get caught riding public transport without a ticket or a card, the freeriding insurance covers their penalty. With this activity Planka attempts to not only help its members get around the city, but to advance a vision for a free public transportation, owned collectively by all citizens and controlled by the workers that operate it.

The example of Barcelona in 1936

In history there are also cases when citizens took their public transportation system in their hands. In 1936, during the Spanish Revolution, the rebellious population of Barcelona took the control the entire city. The public transportation system was placed under direct workers control [10]. The various modes — buses, subway, streetcars — were all managed through elected committees, answerable to assemblies of the workers. An engineer was elected to each administrative committee, to facilitate consultation between manual workers and engineers. There was an overall assembly for decisions that affected the transit-system as a whole, where all citizens could voice their concerns regarding the transportation system. There was no top manager or executive director. A 7-member elected worker committee was responsible for overall coordination.

One of the first acts of the citizens of Barcelona through this new self-managed public model was the abolition of the fare zone system – a zoning scheme which forced people taking longer commutes to pay more. This in practice affected mainly the poor that lived away from the city center. They switched instead to a flat fare throughout the metropolitan area, in order to make the transportation system more inclusive. Despite this lowering of the fare, the worker-run transit system operated at a profit.  This move was quite radical for its time and can be compared to the contemporary idea for FPT.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

It certainly doesn't mean free transit, but starting this Sunday, TTC riders can ride for two hours, anywhere they wish, on one fare.  This might entice people who need to run errands -- i.e. make multiple stops -- to use the TTC rather than driving.

The one downside is that it's only available for Presto card users.  Cash and token fares are the same as usual.  The TTC was surprisingly honest about that though:  "We really want people to use the Presto system".

lagatta4

I suppose Presto cards are only for residents? Not via controls, but like our OPUS cards - one has to pay for them in addition to the fares, but they are good for several years. If so that is a bit of a shame because being able to hop on and off could be a draw for visitors.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

As I understand it, Presto cards aren't hard to get, and involve no premium above whatever you choose to "fill" it with when you get it.  And if I'm not mistaken, each ride is about a quarter cheaper than cash fare.  The downside is that of course you cannot get on a streetcar with a $20 bill and get a Presto card... to get them it's stations only, if I'm not mistaken.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Public Transport Should Be Free

We don’t put coins in street lamps or pay by the minute in public parks. Here’s why we should make subway and bus fares a thing of the past.

If we are to believe transport experts and practitioners, abolishing fares for all passengers is the last thing public transport operators should be doing. For Alan Flausch, an ex-CEO of the Brussels public transport authority and current Secretary General of International Association of Public Transport, “in terms of mobility, free public transport is absurd.”

According to Vincent Kauffmann, a professor at University of Lausanne and one of key figures in sustainable mobility, “free public transport does not make any sense.” Getting rid of tickets in mass transit is judged “irrational,” “uneconomical” and “unsustainable.”

However, if we turn to commentators from outside the field of transport, the perspective on fare abolition changes radically. Social scientists, activists, journalists and public officials—often speaking from cities where fare abolition has actually been put to the test—fervently defend the measure.

For Judith Dellheim, a researcher at Rosa-Luxemburg Stiftung in Berlin, providing free access to public transport is the “first step towards socio-ecological transformation.” For Michiel Van Hulten, one of the earliest proponents of free public transport in Europe, “it is about returning to the commons.” Finally, according to Naomi Klein, this is precisely what cities around the world should be doing —“to really respond to the urgency of climate change, public transport would have to become free.”....

WWWTT

Hi epaulo13!

If you haven't already posted this, I will do so again

https://www.citylab.com/transportation/2018/05/estonia-will-roll-out-fre...

I live in southern Ontario, rural and urban. And now with a pc government bent on cutting government spending, fair free rides on any subway bus or train in Ontario will probably never be realistic for another 30 years

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..hello wwwtt. and txs.

..sometimes out of great adversity good things come. it seems that in trumpish times local level organizing has increased. maybe in due course the same will be said of ont. 

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Metroshuttle: free bus travel in the city and town centres

Get on and off as often as you like

Metroshuttle route 1

Piccadilly Station; Portland Street (Chinatown); Peter Street (Manchester Central); Deansgate (Spinningfields); Deansgate; Victoria Station; Northern Quarter; Piccadilly Station.

Metroshuttle route 1 live departure times

Metroshuttle 1 service is in operation:

  • Monday to Friday: 7am to 7pm, every ten minutes.

  • Saturday: 8.30am to 6.30pm, every ten minutes.

  • Sunday and public holidays (excluding Christmas Day): 9.30am to 5.55pm, every twelve minutes.

Metroshuttle route 2

Piccadilly Station; Northern Quarter; Withy Grove (Printworks); Victoria Station; Deansgate; Deansgate Station; Oxford Road Station; Peter Street (Manchester Central); Deansgate; Victoria Station; Shudehill – Northern Quarter; Piccadilly Station.

Metroshuttle route 2 live departure times

Metroshuttle 2 service is in operation:

  • Monday to Friday: 6.30am to 6.30pm, every ten minutes.

  • Saturday: 8.30am to 6.30pm, every ten minutes.

  • Sunday and public holidays (excluding Christmas Day): 9.35am to 6pm, every twelve minutes.

Metroshuttle route 3

Piccadilly Station; Portland Street; Charlotte Street (Chinatown); Cross Street; St Mary’s Gate; Deansgate; (Spinningfields, peak times only); Deansgate (John Rylands Library peak times only); John Dalton Street; Cross Street; King Street; New York Street (Chinatown); Chorlton Street (Central Coach Station); Piccadilly Station.

Metroshuttle route 3 live departure times

Metroshuttle 3 service is in operation:

  • Monday to Friday: 7.25am to 7.20pm, every ten minutes.

  • Saturday: 8.35am to 6.25pm, every ten minutes.

  • Sunday and public holidays (excluding Christmas Day): 9.40am to 6.05pm, every twelve minutes.

These Metroshuttle services are funded by Manchester City Council and Transport for Greater Manchester.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..this page is in estonian. i opened it with chromium browser and it translated the piece.

Free public transport rushes: the number of bus passengers grew almost all over Estonia

The number of passengers exploded in Ida-Viru County: when the number of public transport users in July last year was 126,523, this year the number of free public transport services increased by 242 408, which is almost twice as much as last year.

The descent of the number of users of public transport in Läänemaa is due to the administrative reform of the removal of the rural municipalities that joined the county of Pärnu. The smallest growth occurred in Pärnu County, where the number of passengers increased by only one percentage point, but one has to take into account the fact that Pärnumaa is one of the four counties where only part of the transport was transported.

In counties where transport is partly free, the number of passengers increased by an average of 15.5%. The average growth number of the other eleven counties is more than double: 37.63%.

Partly free transport was implemented in Lääne-Viru County, Pärnu County, Rapla County and Harju County - only young people and pensioners can travel only if they do not buy tickets.

lagatta4

I applaud both initiatives, but metroshuttle seems to target tourists above all - pretty much all those destinations are known to travellers. Yes, it will benefit some Londoners, especially those who work in the tourist trade, but not those who live and/or work in less-known areas.

There was a ringtram like that in Amsterdam (I don't think it was free, though) but it has been cancelled. A pity, because it had many passengers and not all were tourists.

Amsterdam is many, many times smaller than London.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..in wpg there are 3 free lines called the downtown spirit. they travel the inner city and are used by shoppers and tourists but also serve a large segment of poor folk who live in the area. they don't run near as often as the metroshuttle nor are they as extensive in the area they cover. so i too applaud metroshuttle.

lagatta4

Yes, personally I think pretty much all such initatives are positive, and if they are free, some poor people will find ways to make it work for them. But of course we also have to discuss the inadequate transport in "marginal" areas. The Pink Line has many purposes, including easing overcrowding southbound on the Orange Line, but also the horrific travel times faced by workers in Montréal-Nord. It is no secret that many local residents, including those of Haitian origin, tend to work in the health sector. Some work closer by, but many work in the "superhospitals" in the heart of the city. The Pink Line would dramatically shorten their commute. It would to the same for people in Lachine. Some parts of southwestern MTL have métro stations close by, but not all.

The Blue Lines should also go west, but there is a lot of disagreement about the route. Initially CSL actually didn't want it because of the riffraff, but with so many senior residents  they are having second thoughts. But the huge industrial areas in Ville St-Laurent could also benefit from better and closer public transport...

Western NDG is also very poorly served. I'd love to be able to make a quick jaunt to Akhavan to pick up Iranian and Persian Kulturraum foods!

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..there is tons of roadwork being done here at the moment. i suppose a lot of this is being done with the money from the feds. many buses are being knocked from their regular scheduals because of it to the point of being more unreliable than normal..which wasn't that bad imo. i would like to see the same amount of money going into improving the transit system..which is greatly needed. instead fares keep rising and the city has been paralysed for years in debate. there's been a plan in place for years yet nothing has happened.  

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Liberals promise free public transit for seniors and students

Liberal Leader Philippe Couillard has promised to make public transit free for all seniors and full-time students across Quebec, if elected Oct. 1.

Couillard announced the plan in a busy common space at a Laval CEGEP Tuesday morning, leading to spontaneous applause from students who had stopped to listen.

"We want the next generation to develop the habit of using public transit, and to turn away, by choice, from driving solo," Couillard said....

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..reason number 2,006 to go free transit.

The Presto fiasco: Another in a long line of Toronto transit disasters

It is hard to overstate what an utter fiasco the TTC's new fare payment system has been and the worst is likely yet to come.

There is the staggering cost. Metrolinx will have spent $1.2 billion to transition various provincial transit systems to Presto in the end. That could have built a lot of desperately needed actual routes. As The Toronto Star noted: "The whopping sum is equal to the entire construction budget for the 11-kilometre Finch West LRT."

In Toronto alone the installation will cost at least $487 million.

$487 million would have gone some ways towards John Tory's entirely fictional "Smart Track".

It is half-a-billion squandered in one city alone just to collect fares....

lagatta4

e paulo, Manon Massé found Couillard's clinging to the QS transport plan funny indeed! Idem the dental plan - Couillard knows very well that denying universal dental coverage seriously compromises overall health.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..txs lagatta. i understand. listened to the english debate where massé accused couillard of stealing qs ideas. glad to see though that free transit made it into the debate forum.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Shawn Menard, a former senior staffer for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, is a candidate in Capital ward for Ottawa city council.

Here's why I'm supporting fare-free public transit

What if no one had to pay for public transit?

Ottawa’s public transit system certainly has its share of shortcomings. But the biggest problem preventing an efficient transit system is that we have never thought of our public transit as a truly essential public service.

We don’t need to dig though our pockets to find change before we can enter a library and we certainly are never expected to find exact change before we drive on Ottawa’s ever-expanding public road system. Just like libraries, sidewalks and parks, a free and efficient transit system would operate for the common good.

Currently, transit fares don’t come close to covering expenses and the public is left paying twice – once in taxes and once in fares – to subsidize a substandard service. OC Transpo’s ever-increasing fares are some of the highest in North America. Women represent the majority of public transit users and are disproportionately affected by high fares. And our city’s Dickensian policies squeeze money from the most marginalized in our community: The (un)affordable EquiPass will cost someone living below the poverty line almost $700 a year.

And the thing is, a fare-free transit system leaves us all better off – even if you don’t use it....

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Making Toronto transit free isn’t realistic now. But it’s a terrific idea

In two debate performances this week, mayoral candidate Saron Gebresellassi showed that she isn’t prepared to quietly stand by and be considered an also-ran. Particularly on Tuesday, at a debate hosted by Global, she was a dominating presence, often steering the agenda of the entire discussion.

Gebresellassi also brought up the most interesting discussion idea of the debate — one that occupied an outsized amount of debate time, given that it’s a promise she alone has made. Free public transit, for everyone....

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..this piece is from 2008 and changing city has a population of over 800,000.

Is Free Public Transportation Sustainable?

Ever wished public transportation was free? Well, if you're in Changning City, central China's Hunan Province, your wish just came true. Starting from July 1, local residents and visitors enjoy a free ride along the city's three public transportation lines and the government has allocated 7 million yuan ($1 million) to facilitate the initiative.

According to the local media, on the first day of the free public bus service, passenger numbers jumped by over 60 percent.

The move is unprecedented in China. Elsewhere in the country the public transportation system follows a market-oriented model, with the government offering financial subsidies.

Why does Changning's local government choose to pay for the entire public transport operation? The local authority announced that in order to save energy, protect the environment, standardize urban transportation service and boost public welfare, it decided to offer free public buses. Meanwhile, Changning has already exempted the local rural population from water fees and medical insurance premiums. And it seems, it's a city with no money problems, as the annual fiscal revenues of Changning had increased by around 100 million yuan (nearly $15 million) for three consecutive years until 2007.

After eight months of feasibility studies and discussion by relevant government departments and based on the public's opinions on this issue, it was decided to make public transportation free. According to the government's explanation, the financing comes from three sources: local financial budget, income from advertising on buses and the fuel subsidies from the Central Government.....

WWWTT

Thanks for the link and comment epaulo13. But there’s something missing. I recently had a trip in China. Rode subways in Nanning, Chengdu and Beijing and the buses in Nanning. My children never had to pay. So technically, China does have free transit for children accompanied by adults. 

I believe the TTC has a similar policy for children riding for free

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..how old are your children if you don't mind me asking. depending on their ages kids ride free most places.

'I leave the car at home': how free buses are revolutionising one French city

One month after the French channel port of Dunkirk introduced free public transport for all, a small revolution is taking place.

Two women, perfect strangers until now, are chatting across the aisle about nothing in particular. One admits she sometimes takes the bus “just for the fun of it”. A young man wearing headphones is charging his mobile in a socket just above the “request stop” button.

On another bus, Claude Pointart, 65, who is retired, says free buses mean her pension goes further. “I’m saving money and they come every 10 minutes so I don’t have to wait long. But there’s a lot more people taking the bus so you have to avoid the rush hour if you want to sit. Still, I think it’s a good thing.”

On a city bus making its way around the historic port city, passengers smile at the driver and say “Bonjour” as they board. Some of the city’s fleet of new buses, painted in dazzling colours – pink, orange, green, yellow and blue, with upholstery to match – have wifi. The urban authorities have plans for debates, music and possibly the occasional celebrity on board. A “Sport-Bus” with an interactive game, quiz screen and a selfie camera is already in operation.

Georges Contamin, 51, says he has reconsidered how he travels about the city since the buses became fare-free. “Before, I almost never took the bus, but the fact they are now free as well as the increase in the cost of car fuel has made me reflect on how I get about,” Contamin says.

At the bus stop opposite the port, even the persistent drizzle and howling wind rocking the boats cannot dampen Marie’s enthusiasm. “I never used the bus before,” she says. “It was too much bother getting tickets or a pass. Now I leave the car at home and take the bus to and from work. It’s so easy.”

One month ago, Dunkirk – with a metropolitan population of 200,000 – became the largest city in Europe to offer free public transport. There are no trams, trolleybuses or local commuter trains, but the hop-on-hop-off buses are accessible and free – requiring no tickets, passes or cards – for all passengers, even visitors .....

Pondering

It's heartbreaking to be because had the Liberals won in Quebec we were going to have free public transit across the province. 

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..yes for seniors and students. a gold nugget dangled trying to divert attention from the pile of shit. 

cco

No party has a more extensive list of the stuff they were going to do, if only they hadn't been defeated, than the Liberals in all their incarnations. The credulity of the voting public means they seldom get asked why they hadn't gotten around to it in their 10-15 years in power. (Federal Liberals spent the entire Harper administration blaming the NDP for everything Martin was just about to do before the NDP voted to bring him down.)

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

cco wrote:
No party has a more extensive list of the stuff they were going to do, if only they hadn't been defeated, than the Liberals in all their incarnations. The credulity of the voting public means they seldom get asked why they hadn't gotten around to it in their 10-15 years in power. (Federal Liberals spent the entire Harper administration blaming the NDP for everything Martin was just about to do before the NDP voted to bring him down.)

Indeed, and for a good part of that time, Pondering was posting long winded defenses of the Liberal lies here on babble.

Pondering

cco wrote:
No party has a more extensive list of the stuff they were going to do, if only they hadn't been defeated, than the Liberals in all their incarnations. The credulity of the voting public means they seldom get asked why they hadn't gotten around to it in their 10-15 years in power. (Federal Liberals spent the entire Harper administration blaming the NDP for everything Martin was just about to do before the NDP voted to bring him down.)

The Kelowna accord and the national daycare plan were both ready to sign not just vague promises. Last election the NDP would not have kept their promise on balancing the deficit every single year right away and everyone knew it. Do you doubt that they would have kept their promise on PR? 

If Legault keeps his promise on PR does that make him a left-winger?

At the very least Montreal would have had free public transit if only as a pilot because Plante would have pushed hard. She already talked about free transit for students and seniors. Yes, I believe it would have happened and it would have a been a huge step forward for people living in poverty not only in Quebec but in all major Canadian cities as Quebec's example would be followed eventually. 

 

cco

Pondering wrote:

The Kelowna accord and the national daycare plan were both ready to sign not just vague promises.

Which is why Trudeau implemented them right away after the 2015 election, right?

Pondering wrote:

Last election the NDP would not have kept their promise on balancing the deficit every single year right away and everyone knew it. Do you doubt that they would have kept their promise on PR? 

I do, in fact. The NDP only seems to keep those types of promises in minority situations. I also know for a fact that Trudeau broke his promise.

Pondering wrote:

If Legault keeps his promise on PR does that make him a left-winger?

Nope. It would mean we'll be able to vote for left-wingers in 2022 without all the hand-wringing on how we really can't afford not to vote Liberal despite everything the Liberals have done wrong, though.

Pondering wrote:

At the very least Montreal would have had free public transit if only as a pilot because Plante would have pushed hard. She already talked about free transit for students and seniors. Yes, I believe it would have happened and it would have a been a huge step forward for people living in poverty not only in Quebec but in all major Canadian cities as Quebec's example would be followed eventually. 

Couillard would've met with her, given a vague solemn speech about how transit's a good idea, then told her to fuck off and pay for it herself if she wanted free transit, just like he did with the Pink Line. But now that he's out of office, by all means, let's canonize him for the stuff he theoretically might have been pressured into doing but didn't actually do when he had the power to.

Pondering

The Pink line wasn't Couillard's idea. By no means am I cannonizing him. If the only way to get anything at all is from the NDP we wouldn't have EI, medicare or the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. 

I don't want to take the focus off free transit which is the point of this thread. That Couillard support it doesn't mean he is left wing. It means he saw the economic argument for it and that the future demanded it. That, and he probably wanted to have a legacy program he would have gotten credit for instead of just cuts and austerity. 

WWWTT

@epaulo13

My eldest boy is 5 and the twins are 3.

I felt it was important to mention that children ride for free in China. And just before I posted that comment, I did some quick research to see if the TTC offered the same thing. When I was a kid growing up in Toronto, we had to pay just like everyone else. But according to my research, children 12 and under are free since 2015.

Not sure if you are other posters mentioned this fact upthread somewhere???

I'm going to stick my neck out here a little and say that free local transit is an idea that at least 66% of the population will support! 

Also, providing free transit for children is a huge huge step in the right direction! When the children of today, 2018, whom ride the TTC for free get older, I'm going to guess that 100% of them will support free transit for everyone! And not to mention the parents/gaurdians of these children today.

I also suspect(there's actually overwhelming evidence so it's really not a suspicion I may have) that currently there is a global shift in the reasoning/methodology behind local public tranportation towards free easy convenient access.

This also makes labor markets much more competitive. Free transit drives the cost of living down! 

I'm going to speculate that free local transit is coming to a local transit system near everyone. Question now would be when?

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Free public transit could challenge reliance on cars

Free public transit could combat both economic inequality and climate disturbances. And, if paid for by fees on automobility, fare-less transit could be part of a serious challenge to private, car-centred transit and urban planning.

At Toronto's first mayoral debate Saron Gebresellassi called for fare-free transit. By detailing a bold proposal the left-wing mayoral candidate steered the other candidates to bemoan ballooning fare costs and suggest eliminating some of them.

Gebresellassi's plan also garnered significant media attention. In an article titled "Making Toronto  transit free isn't realistic now. But it's a terrific idea," Toronto Star columnist Edward Keenan offered an informative rundown of the argument. But, as is wont in the dominant media, Keenan implicitly downplays the climate crisis and the importance of ditching the private automobile. Rather than being a long-term objective, free public transit should be viewed as a short- to medium-term tool for shifting away from our dependence on ecologically, socially and health-damaging cars. Of instant benefit to those with the least resources, free transit would drive price-conscious individuals towards less environmentally and socially damaging buses and trains.

quote:

While not radical, fare-less transit is not free. It would be an enormous failure if it only cost what the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) currently raises from fares -- $1.2 billion minus the not insignificant cost of gathering and enforcing fare payment. As the TTC expands to displace ever-greater numbers of private cars, free transit would certainly cost magnitudes more.

But there are many ways to finance it. Greenpeace Germany has suggested placing a levy on car manufacturers to pay for eliminating transit fares. In France employers with 11 or more employees pay a small tax devoted to transit.

Some of the billions of dollars currently spent on roadways -- $3.6 billion, for example, on rebuilding a Gardiner Expressway that should be torn down and the land used for co-op/social/rental housing -- could be directed towards free transit. Toronto could also repurpose some of the 27.4 per cent of the city presently devoted to free roadway to moneymaking ventures (another 13 per cent of Toronto is parks and open spaces -- a share of which goes largely unused because of the unpleasantness of adjacent traffic-filled roadway). A more straightforward way to incentivize public transit while deterring private car travel is to earmark congestion fees to the TTC.

A more novel option would be to replace requirements for businesses, public institutions and developers to offer parking with an equivalent contribution to a free transit fund. Toronto currently prescribes a specific number of parking spaces for every new residence as well as for a "bowling alley," "bus station," "adult entertainment," site, etc. The cost of complying with these bylaws could fund significant mass transit.

iyraste1313

In rural BC, we now do not even have mass transit. The NDP has done nothing to support our right to transit.

I applaud the initiative of the movement in Saskatchewan to challenge their provincial government in the Courts, that a denial of mass transit, is a violation of our basic charter rights to security of the person!
;eanwhile the Office of the Superintendant of Motor Vehicles, in collaboration with the Insurance cartel ICBC and Ministry of Transport, continue freely to deny people`s rights to drive a private vehicle, for the flisiest of reasons, mostly associated with trying to extract a few more dollars!

lagatta4

Yes, especially given the highway of tears and other deadly roads with no public transport. I disagree witht the "right" to drive a motor vehicle; there are many legitimate reasons for denying that privilege, but what is a right is mobility, which must be ensured. I think mobility outside major urban centres will become a more and more pressing demand; moreover it is one modern technology should be able to provide, with smaller buses or other vehicles on demand.

 

 

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

The seductive appeal of free public transport

Many towns have already introduced free public transport in an effort to ease traffic congestion.

In around 100 cities across the globe, it’s now possible to take the tram, the metro or the bus without spending a cent or dodging the fare. Most of the cities, regardless of whether they have a population of a few thousand or a few million, don’t regret having implemented the system. From the buses of the small Portuguese city of Porto Real to the automated metro systems of Miami, Florida; Noyon, France (population: 13,000) and Chengdu, China (population: 5 million), free public transport is now a recognised urban mobility option and solution for mitigating pollution.

One example that has attracted the attention of several cities worldwide is the Estonian capital of Tallinn. Since January 2013, the town’s 435,000 inhabitants have enjoyed free public transport. More than six years later, the results for both passengers and the city are extremely positive. Oddly enough, the scheme has enabled the city to make money. By attracting new residents, Tallinn has boosted its local tax revenues. Furthermore, the city is less congested, which has led to a reduction in air pollution. Road traffic declined by 15% in one year.

Free schemes in 30 French towns

The Tallinn model is the envy of Paris. Mayor Anne Hidalgo wants Parisians to make greater use of public transport and is considering making it free to reduce car pollution. For certain residents – people over 65 and handicapped adults whose income is below a certain threshold – free transit is already a reality since 1 June. It remains to be seen, however, whether it would be economically feasible to offer free public transport to everyone, since the shortfall in passenger revenues would need to be offset by funds from somewhere else. If the project proves to be viable, roll-out could take place in 2020, according to the mayor’s office. 

Free transit programs are running successfully in around 30 French towns. Most of the communities have fewer than 20,000 inhabitants, and their public transport networks are comprised solely of bus routes with scant ridership. In the provinces, where traffic congestion is less of a problem than in the major urban areas, most people prefer to use their own means of travel.

Equitable pricing

The main obstacle to free public transport is cost. Fare revenues are a significant source of income for large cities. In Paris, ticket and travel card sales account for 33% of the transport budget. The rest is funded by local communities and private sector employers, via a special transport tax. If zero-fare public transit were extended to all holders of a Navigo transport pass, and not just Parisians, the gap would amount to €3.5 billion a year.

In light of the high cost, it’s not surprising that some cities have discontinued their programmes. Both Portland in the United States and Hasselt in Belgium have reintroduced fares. In Hasselt, the loss of ticket revenue had a negative impact of €1 million, and there was an increase in anti-social behaviour. “There’s no such thing as a free ride,” commented Claude Faucher, managing director of the Union des Transports Publics (UTP) transport operators’ organisation. He advocates equitable pricing, a fare‑setting process based on ability to pay. Several cities, including Grenoble and Strasbourg, have adopted this type of approach. “The price of a monthly pass varies between €3.40 and €50.80 depending on household income,” said Roland Ries, the mayor of Strasbourg. The mechanism has led to a €200,000 increase in ticket revenue and a 5% decrease in fare evasion.

iyraste1313

I disagree witht the "right" to drive a motor vehicle; there are many legitimate reasons for denying that privilege, but what is a right is mobility, which must be ensured. ......

Although I agree that driving private vehicles must not be a right...taking away the right to drive for spurious reasons, limits our capacity to build alternatives...

As you mention ¨the Highway of tears¨ When the Tsilqotin peoples began receiving their pitiful alotments for the vitimization not to mention deaths in the family for the residentil concentration camps, they began buying big clunker vans to drive to Willims Lake, ususally loaded to the gills with friends and family......but as capitalism corrupts everyting, for the bottom line...the RCMP ad nauseum began picking off and confiscating everyone´s ¨hard earned¨vans, forcing everyone back onto the streets!

ICBC used a historic court decision which denied the right to drive, using a case where there was clear danger to the public, to basically deny people the right to mobility...just another case of total corruption at every level, every institution working from the bottom line, no considerations of rights or justice!
No the capitalist system must be done away with, point number one!

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..london on.

Free public transit? LTC mulls plans to boost ridership

It’s the early stages of a broader effort to improve public transit and boost the number of people taking the bus, but staff and politicians at the London Transit Commission (LTC) say there are promising ideas.

“Some of the stuff is really, really interesting to me,” Coun. Phil Squire, also a transit commissioner, said of the list of more than 50 ridership-growing proposals headed to the commission for its meeting Wednesday night.

quote:

Adding routes for secondary school students – for example, a bus that runs from particular neighbourhoods to the school in the morning and back after class is over – was scored as a proposal with the second-highest potential.

The deciding factor for most of the changes – everything from dedicated transit lanes on key London roads to reinstituting the subsidized seniors bus pass – is likely to be cost.

The draft headed to transit commissioners Wednesday is just the broad strokes, said LTC general manager Kelly Paleczny, noting a more detailed plan – including financial estimates – will be incorporated into the next five-year service plan guiding the city’s transit.

For example, offering free public transit, regardless of age or income bracket, has high potential to woo new riders, but also the highest cost of any growth strategy.

Paleczny said the tools will have to be analyzed for their return on investment.

“To me, the reason why we, the LTC, and then the city as a whole should want to grow ridership is to take the pressure off the transportation network. Continuing to widen roads is not sustainable,” she said.

“We want to increase ridership, but that’s going to come at a cost.”

quizzical

so Ford's going to privatize part of the TTC now he's taken control of a section. are Gorongonisns going to protest in the streets?

wonderful example for us on why we need pr. 

cco
epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..txs cco

Is the Cure for Gridlock a Super Bus?

For generations, the public transit bus has been considered the “loser cruiser” — slow, noisy, and smelly, but sufficient for those unable to drive their own cars. This attitude is ingrained in cities across North America. Vancouver — where nearly $3 billion are slated for a crosstown subway just 5.7 km long — is no exception.

At that price, it’s pretty clear the cure for region-wide traffic jams can’t be trains in tunnels, nor soaring bridges that cost billions, too.

What about a better breed of bus that’s faster, more reliable, maybe even…comfy?

The clogged North Shore and the Ironworkers Memorial Second Narrows Bridge are a case in point. Every day, thousands of vehicles fight their way across the bridge in the morning and again in the afternoon. Either direction, drivers (and bus passengers) endure endless gridlock. Some kind of rapid transit is needed to link North and West Vancouver with Vancouver and the Fraser Valley.

For a fraction of the cost of a new bridge or Skytrain, a recent proposal might just work: bus rapid transit.

Bruce Watt, a retired Edmonton architect who’s lived on the North Shore since 2008, developed his proposal last spring. He recently told The Tyee that he’d emailed it to all the North Shore council members, MLAs, and MPs. Watt says former Burnaby Mayor Derrick Corrigan, then the head of the Mayors’ Council, was very interested. Watt also discussed it with North Van-Lonsdale MLA Bowinn Ma.

Copies of Watt’s proposal are circulating outside the municipal bureaucracies, but the public hasn’t heard much about it. It could stir some useful discussion about how to improve transportation in the Vancouver area without bringing in still more cars.

Watt envisages a “bus rapid transit” link between Phibbs Exchange, at the north end of the Ironworkers, to the Skytrain at Renfrew. He sees three key benefits of BRT: reduced traffic on the bridge, fuller integration of the North Shore with the rapid transit system south of the harbour, and a cheap way for lower-paid workers on the North Shore to get to work from their homes elsewhere.

Watt’s plan calls for “bi-articulated buses,” able to carry 250 passengers, moving on new dedicated bus lanes from Phibbs Exchange in North Vancouver to the bridge, which will be fitted with automated guideway lanes for the buses on its outside edges and below the car deck. Once over the bridge, the buses would move on dedicated lanes to McGill Avenue, and then down Renfrew to the Millennium line Skytrain station.

BRT systems might be new to Vancouver, but Watt says they operate in over 200 cities around the world, from Boston to Instanbul to Jakarta. They’re strikingly inexpensive: a billion US dollars, Watt argues, would buy seven km of subway line, 12 km of Skytrain, 40 km of light rail transit — or 426 km of BRT.

This BRT, therefore, would be remarkably cheap — perhaps $150-$200 million for a link between a rebuilt Phibbs Exchange, over the bridge, and 30 blocks to the Renfrew station. The price would include 2.7 km of bridge structures, 3.3 km of guideway lanes, 4.12 km of roadway preparation, eight stations, and 45 buses.

 

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Battery trolleybuses ready for heavy duty climate action

I attended the sixth International e-bus conference in Solingen, Germany in November, a few weeks before 15-year-old Greta Thunberg stole the show at the United Nations COP 24 climate conference in Poland.

“We are facing an existential threat and . . . already have all the facts and solutions,” Thunberg told the crowd at the UN conference. The experts at the e-bus conference I attended confirmed Thunberg’s point about solutions; electric buses are ready to replace fossil fuel buses, even on the busiest routes. Solingen is aiming for 80 per cent electric buses within four years, and will phase out burning fossil fuels as older buses are replaced.

Buses that charge their batteries off overhead trolley wires while moving, and operate like other battery electric buses off-wire, can cover the same distance in a day as a diesel bus. And the overhead wires only need to cover between one-fifth and two-thirds of the route, so costs are not much more than burning diesel. Battery trolleybus technology is well proven; the system in Rome has been in operation since 2005.

Clean buses on the rise

The cities in the best position to quickly shift to electric buses are those that already have trolleybus wires in place.

“It’s a no brainer . . .to use electric buses which are powered with in motion charging,” said Erik Lenz of Kiepe Electric at the e-bus conference. Solingen’s transit agency has stopped ordering fossil fuel buses and is using their existing trolley wire network to charge battery trolleybuses. “It is a very efficient system, and that’s why they went for it.”

Cities with existing trolleybus wire networks (such as Lyon, Vancouver, Seattle and San Francisco, Shanghai and Bejing, and over 300 other trolleybus cities around the world) already have powerful charging systems in place for electric buses.

New battery trolleybus lines are also being installed for bus rapid transit lines. Bus rapid transit (BRT) utilizes bus lanes, typically in the center of the road, and other features to make bus service faster and more convenient.) Before the conference, I rode the BRT line in Castellón, Spain, which is about 10 years old. The quiet electric buses run connected to overhead trolley wires on a car-free bus lanes for much of the route, but run off-wire through Castellón’s charming historical center. A new battery trolleybus BRT line will open in Rimini, Italy in 2019. Some European trolleybus cities (including Lyon, France and Zurich, Switzerland) are expanding their already extensive bus lane networks so their transit riders don’t get stuck in traffic....

lagatta4

I'm certainly not opposed to buses, or bus rapid transport, but they can't assure the speed or coverage of métros or trams.  I know that Boston does have a metro system; haven't checked on Istanbul or Jakarta, though both are very large cities.

For a large Canadian city, Vancouver is unique as heavy snow is rarely a problem.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

lagatta4 wrote:

I'm certainly not opposed to buses, or bus rapid transport, but they can't assure the speed or coverage of métros or trams.  I know that Boston does have a metro system; haven't checked on Istanbul or Jakarta, though both are very large cities.

For a large Canadian city, Vancouver is unique as heavy snow is rarely a problem.

..your right lagatta but as the #290 post points out the cost is considerably less. and that for many cities can be a huge factor.

quote:

BRT systems might be new to Vancouver, but Watt says they operate in over 200 cities around the world, from Boston to Instanbul to Jakarta. They’re strikingly inexpensive: a billion US dollars, Watt argues, would buy seven km of subway line, 12 km of Skytrain, 40 km of light rail transit — or 426 km of BRT.

This BRT, therefore, would be remarkably cheap — perhaps $150-$200 million for a link between a rebuilt Phibbs Exchange, over the bridge, and 30 blocks to the Renfrew station. The price would include 2.7 km of bridge structures, 3.3 km of guideway lanes, 4.12 km of roadway preparation, eight stations, and 45 buses.

cco

Transit budgets aren't usually allocated that way ("Here's a billion dollars; figure out the most cost-efficient way to carry the most people"), though. Instead, in Canada at least, planners look at individual routes and do their best to cut costs one at a time.

In Montréal, there's been a need for rapid transit on Pie-IX since the métro was in the original planning stage. Multiple studies were done, plans were made, but in the end politicians cut it back to a BRT, then after an accident cut that back to regular massively overcrowded bus service. The rest of the east end didn't get BRT in exchange for Pie-IX not getting a métro line; BRT was just used (and is currently in the process of being used again) to get commuters to settle for less. Similarly, on the new Champlain bridge, there were originally supposed to be rail tracks. Those were swapped out for continued bus lanes.

That's why BRT leaves such a bad taste in the mouth of many transit activists: it's typically a bait-and-switch. That doesn't mean it can't be done well in a context where a new system's being designed from scratch, or where the density/layout of the city means a rail line is impractical.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..can't speak for anywhere else. having lived in vancouver for many years the second narrows bridge brt proposal would be well worth a serious look. there is no money for another skytrain line there as the money is committed to expanding outward boundries. that outward decision though is packed with politics. and like you say cco trying to do it on the cheap..which doesn't resolve the problems. we'll see if the new city administration can untangle the mess. 

..i used the brt when visiting porto alegre. that was limited to a particular area. seemed to work ok. but if planning to drastically reduce the car, as a city, would not be the best system.      

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

The Case for Making Transit Free (and How to Pay for It)

As a community, Seattle has been struggling with numerous issues like income equality, our world-class congestion, and the regressive nature of our tax system. One way to effectively deal with these issues is by implementing a fare-free transit system.

quote:

The current subsidy level of our region’s transit agencies is already 70% to 80%, mostly coming from a sales tax, which again has a regressive incidence since low-income folks spend a larger share of their money, while the wealthy tend to save and invest. In King County, 23% of sales tax revenue is earmarked for King County Metro and Sound Transit operations and capital projects. Adding a simple payroll tax is a progressive and practical alternative to fund Metro and Sound Transit operations.

A small payroll tax, designed to a large extent like the Social Security and Medicare taxes that we already pay, could fund all Metro and Sound Transit operating costs, and, like them, are shared by employer and employee (the first $30,000 of employee income would be exempt from the tax to protect low income households). The tax revenues would be explicitly earmarked to Metro and Sound Transit operations and the maximum tax rate fixed so that it could not be raised above a certain level without a vote of the people.

In 2019, a 1% payroll tax on employers and employees in King County would generate $2.15 billion dollars (based on expected King County payroll using U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data). If Snohomish and Pierce County payroll were added, the number increases further–those two counties have employment of nearly 600,000 while King County’s employment is almost 1.4 million. Combined Metro and Sound Transit operating costs for 2019 are $1.26 billion, so even with a 30% increase in service, which would be necessary to accommodate a certain increase in ridership, the funding is more than covered.

To stay current, the $30,000 tax exemption could be indexed to the Consumer Price Index. A payroll tax like this would increase as county employment and average wages increase and would be much more stable than relying on sales tax receipts, which are prone to crater during recessions. Metro funding from sales tax decreased 12.94% during 2008-2009 while county payroll during the same time period only decreased 3.3%. This is crucial because transit demand tends to increase during recessions as people try to lower their transportation costs to make ends meet, but transit agencies are often forced to cut to make their budgets balance.

When the transit system is already heavily subsidized, transitioning to a fare-free system is not as drastic of a change as people might think. It is worth noting that farebox revenue in 2017, not accounting for the many costs associated with collecting and enforcing the fares, totaled $161 million for Metro and $90 million for Sound Transit.

The idea of abolishing fares is often criticized for making a negative impact on the financial stability of public transit networks, as it reduces farebox revenue to zero while increasing costs associated with higher passenger demand. But if we decreased the Metro and Sound Transit portion of sales tax by 65%, leaving the remaining portion for capital projects, while adding the 1% payroll tax, someone earning $100,000 per year would pay just over $3.00 per week, less than the cost of a latte.

If it seems utopian, it isn’t. There are two transit agencies in Washington with no fares, approximately 27 in the United States and almost 100 in other countries. Luxembourg, with a population of 600,000 will be the first country in the world to be completely fare free beginning in 2019. Even Paris, a city of 2.2 million, is currently undergoing a feasibility study to eliminate all fares.

 

iyraste1313

Amusing? to read about all these efforts for free transit, electric conversions, while the vast majority  of western canada has no bus service period...passenger train service long gone...except for VIA Rail,outrageously expensive and now up to double time, thanks to our priority for the China trade and bitumin rail cars .............

iyraste1313

I have been informed by a reliable source, that the reason for the elimination of inter regional bus service in BC is due to the decision by the NDP to cut its subsidy program, forcing Greyhound to withdraw, leaving about 5% of bus service still in tact, with the new independents.

Someone please explain to me where is the Green philosophy of the NDP, and why are the Greens supporting such a move?

lagatta4

The 2.2 million figure for Paris only includes the city proper. Like Boston on this side of the pond, Paris has tended NOT to absorb surrounding suburbs, even the adjacent ones that are thoroughly urban and also served by the métro (not just the RER). Estimations of the metropolitan area depend, of course, on how far out you count. But certainly 12 million at least. Flying over Paris, it is huge. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paris_metropolitan_area

As for Vancouver and Seattle, is there a fast train or ferry between the two nearby Raincoast cities?

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

As for Vancouver and Seattle, is there a fast train or ferry between the two nearby Raincoast cities?

..yes amtrak. don't know how fast though.

Amtrak Cascades trains connect 18 cities along the I-5 corridor including Seattle, Portland, Vancouver, BC, and Eugene, Oregon. Skip traffic. Take the train. 

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

epaulo13 wrote:

As for Vancouver and Seattle, is there a fast train or ferry between the two nearby Raincoast cities?

..yes amtrak. don't know how fast though.

Amtrak Cascades trains connect 18 cities along the I-5 corridor including Seattle, Portland, Vancouver, BC, and Eugene, Oregon. Skip traffic. Take the train. 

Amtrak is slow especially through places like White Rock. High speed rail is a recurring dream for some.

Though a fully-baked plan was not proposed, King County Executive Dow Constantine and former Member of the Legislative Assembly Kevin Falcon argued the idea is less of a fantasy than most would think. This isn’t the first time such a plan has been discussed. High-speed rail connects disparate regions all over the world. Why not build it between Seattle and Vancouver?

“Though some may look at this as a moonshot or the kind of idea that’s never going to happen … I’d rather view high-speed rail as a bold idea that deserves serious research and consideration,” Falcon said.

https://www.geekwire.com/2016/seattle-vancouver-57-minutes-political-lea...

 

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