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.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Free public transit is key to any Green New Deal worthy of the name


Public transit, free transit and environment

Public transport is a critical element in limiting GHG emissions. It is a key tool in moving beyond the existing personal-commodities-producing and carbon-generating economy. It facilitates collective consumption, moving from a private-automobile-centric transportation sector to one reliant on collective, public transit. Public transit is often injected as an addendum into the programs and speeches of political leaders, not a central component of their programs. As well, stable and adequate funding for the maintenance and daily operations of transit is also missing.

Free transit makes it possible for all people in the city to have the right to travel and experience urban life in a more equitable and ecologically friendly manner.

In keeping with this approach, even less is said about making public transit free of fares (although there is a new and welcome mention of it in the NDP platform), which would acknowledge it not only as a building block of greening Canadian life but as a fundamental component of a number of key social and collective rights: the right to just mobility and the right to the city.

Breaking with the market logic of putting a price on public provisioning of mobility is central to bringing a measure of equity for the commuting and working poor, for all low-income people, notably racialized communities, women and people with disabilities. It eliminates the financial and social costs of policing, pedestrian safety, fare collection and management of the enormous costs of car traffic. Free transit makes it possible for all people in the city to have the right to travel and experience urban life in a more equitable and ecologically friendly manner.

Public medicare enshrines the right to health care access for all Canadians; public libraries and school systems provide all residents with access to education, learning and literacy (and much more). These services are decommodified — not dependent on private profit-making — and free to all who need them. They all provide a model for replacing individual forms of consumption that we pay for as “customers” with collectively provided and funded services.

Why isn’t public transit such a service?


A new movement

In recent months, the idea of fare-free public transit seems to have taken off across the country. The free transit movement is an uneven one and exists in various forms across the country: in Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and elsewhere. A network of activists is reconceptualizing the role of public transit in connection with the need to address the climate emergency and in a context of social justice,challenging the dominance of private capital and the recent incursions of privatization into government capacities.

Montreal activists are organizing rallies to popularize the idea, tying together the decommodification of transit with public and cooperative housing. The movement there includes left, anti-privatization activists within and outside the NDP, and a number of federal NDP candidates in the city.

Free Transit Toronto has been active for the past 10 years. CUPE Local 2, one of the transit worker local unions, has endorsed it, social movements and the major transit users organization, TTCriders, have begun to study how to move in that direction (TTCriders has long argued for reducing fares and increasing state subsidies). The movement for reduced fares for people on low incomes won a symbolic victory, with the coming of low-income passes for people on social assistance and eventually to be extended to people on low incomes in Toronto. But the reductions are rather minimal, and don’t even come close to the demand of TTCriders and the Fair Fare Coalition of free transit for people on social assistance, and $50 passes for people living on low incomes.

Efforts are now in the works to forge links between free transit movements across the country.


I've missed you Epaulo. The argument for free transit is very strong. Transit is a necessity of modern life. It is indeed a building block. We should pay for it as we do roads.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..thank you ndpp, unionist and pondering for the welcome back. i appreciate it. 


Did everyone see this announcement last spring?

Starting this summer, public transit will be free in Mont-Tremblant


epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Free transport: Delhi government’s landmark move to empower women, give them greater claim to public spaces

From this Tuesday, the Delhi government has made bus travel free for all women. Half of the country’s population has historically been at a disadvantage compared to the other half. The dreams and aspirations of women have been bottled up. Women still do not have access to equal opportunities with men. In our country, right from when girls are still in their mothers’ wombs, there is uncertainty about their survival. After they are born, girls face discrimination from childhood. If a family can enrol only one child to school, the son’s studies are always prioritised over the daughter’s. I personally know many such families that prefer to stop a girl’s education and even employment if the travel is far from home and expensive.

Our societal structure is so lopsided that in Delhi, only 11% of the city’s workforce comprises women. Only 30% of daily ridership in Delhi Metro and buses is made up of women. We continue to have a stark gender wage gap, with women getting less pay than men for equal work. The gender disparity is a serious stress on our society. A McKinsey Global study had said in 2015 that India could increase its GDP by 16-60% by 2025 if it enables its women to participate in the economy on a par with men. One of the major impediments to women joining the workforce is that women’s access to finance is so limited that they often find public transport prohibitively expensive. This severely restricts their mobility, and therefore their claim on public spaces.

Now that women no longer have to think about the costs of travel, it will open up many avenues to them. No girl will be forced to drop out of school or college. The women of Delhi will become empowered to fulfil their dreams. This is not to suggest that the move will solve every problem, but I am sure it will be a very important step towards empowering women.....

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..more from the above piece


Many people ask, how is the AAP government able to provide so many services for free without raisng taxes? There’s a straightforward answer. Former PM Rajiv Gandhi once said that when a government spends Rs 100, Rs 85 leaks through corruption and only Rs 15 actually serves public welfare. The AAP government has saved the Rs 85 from being stolen, and spends Rs 75 of that on building schools, hospitals, sewer systems, water pipelines and roads. With the remaining Rs 10, we are providing services like power, water, education, healthcare and transport free of cost. In five years, not once has Delhi’s Budget been in the red.

We are also waiting to accept delivery of the 3,000 buses our government has already ordered so that the increased demand for buses doesn’t inconvenience anyone. I recently flagged off a hundred new buses from a lot of 1,000 standard floor buses. Another 1,000 low floor AC buses and 1,000 electric buses are expected next year. Our vision for Delhi is to make it a modern world class city that has the best social infrastructure spurring people to innovate, grow, prosper, but above all be compassionate towards one another. As Delhi’s chief minister, I am proud to see this unfold before my eyes.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

NYC: Protesters March Against Police Brutality in Subways

In New York City, a thousand people flooded the streets of downtown Brooklyn Friday to protest police brutality against residents accused of evading the subway fare. A recent viral video showed police officers tackling and arresting at gunpoint a subway rider for allegedly not paying the $2.75 entrance fee. This is Tiffany Ramos at Friday’s protest.

Tiffany Ramos: “There’s a lot of people who can’t make ends meet. They’re about to build like four new jails. How does the city have money to build new jails, to put more police out there? Why can’t we have more money and resources being devoted to education or to solve the homeless crisis, to fix our trains? This is not right, and we’re here to hold police accountable for their actions. And we’re here to make sure that no person of color gets criminalized for jumping the turnstile again.”

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Planes, trains, and workers’ gains

The Union Pearson Express rail link, operated by Metrolinx, will get you from Toronto Pearson Airport to downtown Toronto in 25 minutes. It was a vast improvement over the pre-existing buses, which – after navigating Toronto traffic and construction – would often take over an hour. And when it was first opened in 2015, you would also pay for the privilege: it cost an adult rider without a PRESTO card $27.50 one way. There were discounts available for airport workers, but a monthly pass was still $300 per month, and a one-way ticket was $10.

This was unacceptable to the Toronto Airport Workers’ Council (TAWC), a non-union organization that represents Pearson’s workers. It was also unacceptable to their community partners, groups like TTCriders and the Clean Train Coalition.

“We were gonna start picketing the train,” says Sean Smith, a Unifor member and TAWC activist. “And if need be we were going to block the route.”

“One of the main things that got me involved in [the TAWC] was the proposed train, the UP Express, because that meant it was another way to get to work,” says Tracy Rowan. She is a flight attendant, Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) member, and TAWC activist. “We got the fare changed because we crashed [Metrolinx’s] meeting. That’s some of the most fun I’ve ever had as a group, crashing a board meeting, and seeing things change because of what we did.”

Today, thanks in part to the TAWC’s militant activism, it costs $12.35 for an adult rider to take the UP Express without a PRESTO card, but $3.50 for any airport worker.

For Smith, the campaign’s success was proof that the TAWC’s model of forming links between community groups and trade unions within the workplace was an effective way to fight the erosion of public services that occurs under neoliberal governments.

“When we, as workers, just fight as workers, we are suppressed either through aggressive employer tactics or through the state, or a combination of both,” says Smith. “We see the linkage between public service workers and airport workers in that we’re on the front lines of neoliberalism. The engagement with the community comes from the realization that they too are on the front lines of neoliberalism.”......