Free and accessible transit now

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kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

There are more than enough good projects for improved transportation in the Lower Mainland already in the planning stage so high speed rail to Seattle would not seem to be a good use of resources.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Free transit motion to be debated by Vancouver city councillors

Vancouver Coun. Jean Swanson wants her colleagues to support a campaign that would have children up to 18 years old ride free on transit.

Swanson's motion goes before council on Tuesday and asks that the city write a series of letters giving formal support to the #AllonBoard campaign.

In addition to free rides for youth in Metro Vancouver, it also calls for monthly pass fees based on income and an immediate end to the ticketing of minors for fare evasion.

If you are caught on TransLink without a valid fare, the fine is $173.

"Kids between 12 and 18 still don't have much money and need to be able to ride the bus," said Swanson. "And sometimes they're the ones most likely to be out at night and most likely to be in a dangerous situation and really need the transit."...

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..13 min video. the argument is well presented.

Fare Free Transit: It just makes sense

There are over 100 cities around the world with fare-free public transportation systems. UGA Transit right here in Athens, Georgia has been fare-free for decades and would never go back to charging a fare. Why have all these cities and universities stopped charging fares? Are there benefits to going fare-free? The answer is yes! Hopefully, the rest of Athens will ditch the fare-box soon, but there are some things to be negotiated first.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture


In keeping with the activist theme here, I have submiited my Statement of Claim to Federal Court based on Sections 1, 2, 6, 7 and 15 of the Charter, requesting an interpretation that transit is a right, guaranteeing autonomy and dignity of the person....

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..keep us posted please.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

6h6 hours ago

BREAKING: The next Scottish Labour government will extend free bus travel to under 25s, with a long term goal of universal free bus travel.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..good discussion and planning. part 1..30 min.

Moving Beyond Ford: The Transportation We Want

In Toronto and beyond, campaigns are underway to confront the Ford government’s initiative to take the Toronto subway system from the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) in order to reorganize, further automobilize and possibly privatize transit and transportation across the Greater Toronto area (GTA). This and other Ford Government initiatives have put progressive transportation advocates as well as transit riders and workers on the defensive. Once more, proactive initiatives are forced onto the backburner. This includes proposals to make transit free, plans to provide mass public transit to working class neighbourhoods across the city and region, to integrate public transit, cycling and pedestrian life from the ground up, and shift transportation patterns from car and truck traffic at a regional scale.

Instead of only reacting to provincial policy, this panel discussion looks at current transit campaigns to a longer-term question: what would a just and environmentally sustainable transportation future for the Toronto region look like?

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Free Transit in Ottawa


Financing Fare-Free and Improved Transit in Ottawa

We already pay for public transit in Ottawa, with a combination of taxes and fares. To make the existing system fare-free, we would need to increase taxes by roughly $180-million annually. That is not a big change, given the current Ottawa budget is $3.4-billion per year (paid for by property taxes, development charges, and other fees).5 It would be roughly an additional $200 per person annually. While this is not an insignificant amount, it is worth considering that the annual cost of a regular transit pass is $1400. Even the low income Equipass is almost $700 a year. If parking fees were raised, the charges imposed on developers for infrastructure were increased (to discourage urban sprawl), and some money reallocated from road construction to public transit, the property tax increase [the main source of revenue for the City of Ottawa] could be much smaller.

But this would only make the existing, inadequate, system free. An expanded and improved transit system would need additional investments, from provincial and federal governments that take their commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions far more seriously.

Making Free and Accessible Public Transit Happen

Free transit has already been adopted by more than 100 cities including Tallinn, the capital of Estonia.6 Recently, five major German cities have announced their intention to do the same thing. In Canadian cities like Winnipeg and Calgary, transit is now free for some people, or in some areas. (Even Ottawa has free transit for seniors on Wednesdays.)

Even though free and improved public transit is a necessary and attainable goal, any campaign for it will face serious opposition from property developers who own large tracts of land on the edges of cities, the oil and auto industries, other business sectors that favour low taxes and limited government, and the politicians who represent them.

To achieve free and accessible public transit, we will have to build a movement powerful enough to overcome this opposition. That movement will have to be centred on those who are transit dependent as well as environmental activists, but must also include a wide range of working and professional people, including those who currently work for OC Transpo. To build it, we will need to engage in educational activities as well as struggles for immediate reforms that lower the cost of public transport and/or increase its accessibility – joining existing struggles and initiating new struggles. •

The ‘Campaign for Free and Accessible Transit’ is made up of environmental and social justice activists who share a common goal of a more equitable and sustainable future for all. We see public transit as having a crucial role in combatting climate change, and promoting social justice. Follow us on Facebook. Learn more about issues like climate change at climateandcapitalism). To get involved in the Campaign, contact us at


There is a really easy means to finance free public transit. The city of Morden, Manitoba is providing free internet to all citizens. 

Copy but provide it at 30$ a head, free for low income, and there is the money for free public transit. 

The left needs to heavily promote wins that prove leftist ideas and socialism do not impoverish people they enrich them. Win that battle and we are on the way to dismantling neoliberal philosophy and taking power away from those who would privatize everything. 


Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

Pondering wrote:

There is a really easy means to finance free public transit. The city of Morden, Manitoba is providing free internet to all citizens. 

Copy but provide it at 30$ a head, free for low income, and there is the money for free public transit. 

The left needs to heavily promote wins that prove leftist ideas and socialism do not impoverish people they enrich them. Win that battle and we are on the way to dismantling neoliberal philosophy and taking power away from those who would privatize everything.

What Pondering says about internet service is true. Bandwidth is almost unbelievably cheap at wholesale, and the phone and cable companies are charging rates which amount to markups of thousands of percent.

For example, I pay around $90 per month for 275GB of bandwidth from Cogeco. That's about 33 cents per GB.

I also rent a virtual server from a U.S. company called Linode for $10US, say $14Cdn per month. This includes not only the server itself, but also 2,000GB of bandwidth. That's about .7 cents per GB.

Those are the very same bits, on the very same internet backbone. And Linode is making a profit even at less than a cent per GB, they're not providing this bandwidth at a loss. So, Cogeco is marking up a price that is already profitable for Linode by an additional factor of 47, that is 4,700%.

Pogo Pogo's picture

epaulo13 wrote:

  I like this and it makes intuitive sense.  Miles of pavement costing more than sidewalks or bike lanes.  Busses distributing the cost to all passengers.  However I am curious what the backup for the numbers are.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..can't remember where i got it pogo. sorry. i suspect though that the car subsidy is quite a bit higher than the $9.20.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Climate emergency demands less traffic, more walkable cities


Paint on climate solutions

Many of the measures being proposed to reduce traffic and pollution in cities can make travel faster and more reliable, and implementation can be remarkably quick. A well designed bus lane can carry ten times as many people as a lane of cars, so bus lanes can handle decades of increasing transit ridership on many routes. But in many of the cities I visited in Europe, like in Canada, buses often crawl along at walking speed in a sea of cars.

Even where transit lanes exist, they are often ineffective. In London, Paris, Madrid and other cities taxis are allowed to use most transit lanes, and there are often enough taxis to grind everything to a crawl.

One of the most interesting cities I visited in Europe is Zurich, Switzerland. I found buses and light rail vehicles stuck in traffic there, but only rarely. Instead, most of the time transit riders get dedicated lanes or streets mysteriously free of congestion. The main transit-only streets in downtown are served by frequent trams and massive double articulated battery-electric trolleybuses.

Many roads in Zurich have dedicated transit lanes, most of which are simply but clearly marked. But if you look closely, you will often see separate traffic signals for transit. Often the seemingly simple painted bus lane works well because the signals prioritize transit vehicles over other traffic, and restrict the volume of traffic entering stretches of street without transit lanes.

Simple painted bus lanes keep transit riders happy

Zurich may have the most sophisticated transit priority and congestion management system in the world. Computers do most of the work of keeping transit riders moving smoothly, but there is also a control room where people can intervene if transit riders are being delayed.

Cities including Madrid, Spain and Oslo, Norway are prioritizing people and decarbonizing transportation in a very decisive way, by restricting the use of automobiles over substantial areas.

The Madrid Central plan is focused on reducing air pollution, and in December access by non-resident vehicles was restricted in a large area of the city center. Traffic on the central section of the Gran Vía is already down 25 per cent, even before enforcement starts. This opened up a lot of space, as people flocked to transit and traffic volumes dropped even on highways leading into the City. Much of this space will be used to expand Madrid’s already extensive network of pedestrian streets, widen sidewalks, create protected bike lanes and make room for transit lanes.

The decreased traffic also gave hope to the residents campaigning to transform the A5 expressway into an urban boulevard with crosswalks for pedestrians, dedicated transit lanes, and far fewer cars. The A5 runs from Madrid’s inner ring road, out through the suburbs, and all the way to the border with Portugal. The effect of enchanting urban spaces can radiate out from city centers to reduce climate pollution region-wide.

The New York Times recently featured Oslo as a prime example of a global trend of cities reducing the space available to automobiles to “cut down on pollution, and make streets more welcoming to bikers and pedestrians”. Oslo has eliminated over 700 on-street parking spots downtown in the last year, and is re-purposing much of the road space in the center for bicycles, pedestrians and public transit. The changes are popular, although still controversial, with improved air quality and newly pleasant spaces emerging as cars disappear.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

The Subway Belongs to Us


The platform, sparse when I entered, begins to bulge with people as trains fail to arrive at their scheduled times. Collective anxiety mounts. Finally, a light from the tunnel bounces across the rusted girders. But the train fails to slow, and a bleat of the horn signals that this one, already late and too packed to let anyone on, is skipping Sixty-Eighth Street tonight. The system has landed its first blow. Before long, another train arrives, groaning into the station like a wounded animal. My shoulders relax a bit.

Fifteen minutes later, we have reached the City Hall stop. Transferring trains in New York generally threatens fresh catastrophe. The second I step from the train, I see my luck has run out. The deck is stuffed, buzzing with a malign energy, the sum of a thousand individual panics trapped and amplified on this decomposing hulk of subterranean concrete. The platform is a scene of disorder. No one faces the tracks, as they would if they expected a train to arrive. Older women and parents with children jockey for seats on the wooden benches, few in number and uncomfortable by design as part of the city’s longstanding commitment to punish and frustrate the homeless. The “countdown clocks,” electronic signs meant to tell you the wait time for your train, mock themselves with constantly shifting, crazy-quilt predictions before crashing at last into digital gibberish. A train is coming in seven minutes – no, four – no, nineteen – no, twenty-eight. Finally, the white flag goes up, and the signs retreat to the bare word “Delay.”


Behind the statistics that describe the lives of the urban poor is something less quantifiable. The toll of the gradual abdication of society by the rich over the last forty years is exacted not only in dollars and cents, but in stress, anger, hopelessness, and frustration – what we could call the affective fruits of disinvestment. These issue not only in day-to-day rancor but in shortened lives. Some Americans, especially people of color, have always known this, but as the upward redistribution of wealth proceeds apace, the sense that one’s life is enmeshed in a crisis begins to generalize. In a densely packed city like New York, the subway becomes a site where we can feel such a crisis swelling in especially acute fashion.

The reason the subways perform so poorly in New York can be summed up simply – no one in charge cares to spend enough money to make them run properly, and in the absence of any social movement that could force them to do this, they don’t have to. The problem is exacerbated by the garish corruption that the New York Times has been using to chase Pulitzers for the last couple years. There is no objective reason, for instance, why the cost of the Second Avenue Subway should outstrip that of similar projects in similarly situated cities by a surreal factor of seven. The MTA has been exposed as a foul warren infested with overpaid managers, armies of “consultants,” scads of low- or no-show jobs, uncompetitive bidding, and a revolving door between government and business. Like so many other institutions in American life, the agency, in addition to running (or not running) the subways, operates as a vast, private welfare state, managed in relative secrecy, sucking on a giant funnel of money fed by New York’s high and highly-regressive taxes.


Victoria wants to eliminate public transit fares for everyone in the region to encourage more ridership and reduce the impacts of climate change.

Mayor Lisa Helps will bring a motion to the regional transit commission Monday, asking it to embrace a policy of phasing out user fees and expanding bus service to meet an anticipated increase in demand.

Coun. Ben Isitt, who introduced the motion that was passed Thursday by council, said it would begin with the elimination of fares for youth under 19 next year and the broader community would be phased in.

I was disappointed to see that they are starting just with under 19s but it's a beginning and it is in Canada. 

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Why not start with the people least likely to own a car or need to commute to a job?  It reminds me of Ontario's ambitious pharmacare program for the people who need it least. 

If a jurisdiction ever offers free child care, watch them start with children 14-16.  It's government logic.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Why not start with the people least likely to own a car or need to commute to a job? 

I don't know about where you live but where I live the tourism trade in the summer is staffed primarily with teenagers working for minimum wage or slightly more. Most of them don't already own a car but would be thinking of buying one with their summer income. Hopefully they will get so used to transit they develop a mindset that is not car centric.

Victoria is a tourist town first and then an education center so while this is not the largest demographic it is a good place to start. I think it is going to help some of the poorest workers in the city. I think that extending it to include all students no matter what age would really benefit all the university students trying to work at least one if not two part time jobs to pay the bills.

Here is a link to the demographics of the city.  The chart on page 2 sets out the population by age brackets.