Free and accessible transit now

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epaulo13 epaulo13's picture
Free and accessible transit now

Free Transit flash-mob in downtown Toronto.

Issues Pages: 
epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Free and Accessible Transit Now:

Toward A Red-Green Vision for Toronto

Free and Accessible Transit Campaign, GTWA

Transit is a critical issue for people in Toronto, as in all major urban areas. More is at stake than reducing traffic congestion and gridlock. Transit and general mobility are intimately related to larger issues in capitalist society: how goods and services are produced and delivered; the location of and nature of jobs; where and how we live and travel; issues of class, inequality and oppression related to race, age, gender, and sexuality; climate justice; and the very shape and nature of our democratic institutions.

The GTWA Free Transit initiative opens the door to a broader transformation of urban life and the current social system. Our ‘Red-Green’ vision is socialist, based on the working-class, environmentally just, internationalist, and transformative.....

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Toronto? Isn't that the city governed by Rob Ford? Laughing

Sven Sven's picture

Not only accessible but "free," too?

Nothing is free.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..their looking to build a new world. from the bottom up. something that came out of the occupy movement and the arab spring also europe. i find it quite exhillarating. the resistence across the board is exploding. the crisis guarantees it will grow and the more it grows the more it permiates every aspect of society. this direct democracy stuff is our last best chance. tell me you don't see that? if not what do you see that can save us from the insanity of capitalism?


Sven, of course nothing is "free" as in not costing anything, but you know very well that here, "free" is used as shorthand to mean users don't have to pay individually each time they use public transport. 

As in free public education, free healthcare, and the biggie here, free roads, as in roads that don't require a toll to be paid every time they are taken. 

We could say "socialised" (remembering that most roads, dear to the right, are also socialised) but that would piss off neocons far more. 

This is also an important struggle against the environmental and social destruction (pollution, sprawl) caused by a system centred on individual private motor vehicles. 

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..i see this thinking as a way of getting around the ndp/labour leadership. this broadens the discussion to include the 99% on a more equal footing and not hidden behind walls of bureacurcy. this feels right to me.


Public Ownership and Democratic Planning

Free Transit can only happen if transit is fully public in ownership and operation – it is not compatible with private-sector logic. But public-sector bureaucracies and even unionized workers may think this demand threatens the financial viability of public transit. Achieving it will require a strong alliance among public transit workers and their unions, transit users and all supporters of robust and expanded public transit. The goal is not to make public managers more powerful, but to democratize planning and administration by empowering transit workers and users.

Free Transit is in the medium- and long-term interest of transit workers. It would end fare-policing, a major source of tensions between transit workers and users; lead to increased transit employment; and raise transit workers’ importance and prestige in users’ lives.

Democratic planning must be introduced, from local neighbourhoods through to high-level co-ordination and planning. Regional and inter-regional transit needs can also be articulated from below, by creating regional democratic planning bodies that are mandated to improve transit – not to take resources from transit-dependent but underserved areas (such as inner suburbs) or transit-dense areas (such as downtown).


Sven wrote:
Not only accessible but "free," too? Nothing is free.

Didn't you know?  "Free" simply means "[b]someone else[/b] is paying for it".


There are lots of things that are free as in doesn't cost any money.  The notion of private ownership at all costs:  the ideas that one must pay for everything, and that nothing is allowed to be publicly available simply don't work.  So much energy is wasted by corporations trying to "protect" obscene profits and bar people from freely gathering.

I have heard that the energy alone from the flaring off of gas in Aberta is enough to heat every home in Canada.  This energy is free but it is wasted.  I don't support the gas industry but this is a very obvious example of something that is free but is wasted.


abnormal wrote:

Sven wrote:
Not only accessible but "free," too? Nothing is free.

Didn't you know?  "Free" simply means "[b]someone else[/b] is paying for it".

No, actually, in this case, what "free" means is that everyone pays for it, according to their ability to pay, whether they use it or not, because it's a public good.  Like the way we pay for our "free" health care.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture vancouver transit management has been privatized. we now have a transit that operates on a business model. transit funding has squandered millions on putting in turnstiles for “security” purposes meaning bar those trying to get on free. i figure the loss at the out most is no more than $100,000 for the whole year..if that. but in no way justifies the cost and maintenance of this “security”.

..there is a transit card that's coming out soon that you need to swipe getting on a bus or skytrain and when you get off. both these measures work to clog the smooth flow of users yet it is sold as benefiting the users. the tracking ability of the card has been a concern with me. they're up to no good i suspect. they also just raised transit fare. $91 for a monthly bus pass 1 zone from $81.

..advertizing has been expanded to obscene levels. the stations are inundated with shit and i once saw a digital ad they were testing out on the side of they bus that fit between front and back doors, in the space below the windows. big, bright and flashing it was. in france, marseille each station had a theme. one had pictures of fruit and veggies. another had a history of the subway, models included. no ads!

..they are twinning port mann bridge because the single bridge could not handle the increasing amount of vehicles. which the cost of, someone worked out, is enough to put 400 new buses on the road and pay fuel costs and labour for 30 years. a user i'm really unhappy at this present direction. it's not practical and works to benefit narrow interests.


epaulo, I hear you on your concerns.  The transit user fees are getting outrageous in Toronto too. 

Regarding transit ads - I actually don't have a huge problem with them if they would help bring the cost down.  But somehow that just never happens, does it?  If we went to a no-user-fee system, I wouldn't have a problem with expanded ads to contribute to offsetting the cost of it.  It ain't a perfect world this side of the revolution.  But we're going in the wrong direction both user-fee wise, AND ad-wise.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture


..i agree with what you wrote. i have an issue with ads though. across the street from my place is a school and beside the school is a bus stop shelter that has big ads behind glass. a lot of students use this stop. increasingly i see ads for rum, vodka and whiskey. ads as tall as a person. reclaiming our public space is on the table i'm thinking. maybe increased regulation as we transition to a better place. Smile

Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

epaulo13 wrote: vancouver transit management has been privatized. we now have a transit that operates on a business model. transit funding has squandered millions on putting in turnstiles for “security” purposes meaning bar those trying to get on free. i figure the loss at the out most is no more than $100,000 for the whole year..if that. but in no way justifies the cost and maintenance of this “security”.

..there is a transit card that's coming out soon that you need to swipe getting on a bus or skytrain and when you get off. both these measures work to clog the smooth flow of users yet it is sold as benefiting the users. the tracking ability of the card has been a concern with me. they're up to no good i suspect. they also just raised transit fare. $91 for a monthly bus pass 1 zone from $81.

..advertizing has been expanded to obscene levels. the stations are inundated with shit and i once saw a digital ad they were testing out on the side of they bus that fit between front and back doors, in the space below the windows. big, bright and flashing it was. in france, marseille each station had a theme. one had pictures of fruit and veggies. another had a history of the subway, models included. no ads!

..they are twinning port mann bridge because the single bridge could not handle the increasing amount of vehicles. which the cost of, someone worked out, is enough to put 400 new buses on the road and pay fuel costs and labour for 30 years. a user i'm really unhappy at this present direction. it's not practical and works to benefit narrow interests.

Vancouver transit is such a nightmare, and those in charge seemingly do not listen to the concerns of the people (re: evergreen line out to surrey instead of UBC).

What bugs me about Vancouver transit specifically is that everything was set up on the honor system, but then the transit authority spends A LOT of money employing guards and herds of police to monitoring and 'surprise' unwilling payers. That is a waste of money and opposite of the system implemented, especially when they use their techiniques of hiding around corners to trap users and give them huge fines.

The gates are another ridiculous solution as they are taking forever to put in. What irks is that things like the Canada line were built new enough for the company to research other forms of transit and realize that in order to make that profit off of transit, gates were necessary. I think they had some bullshit logic like there was going to be too many people for the Olympics that it would crowd the gates and would be rendered ineffective. Also you built a train with three cars to house all the travellers for the Olympics. Just saying.

Okay, I'm about to go into full on rant mode about Vancouver transit, which is not the point of this discussion, but implemented the above system, and then trapping people into huge fines is not okay, and building million (billion?) dollar systems only to have to modify two years later is also not okay especially when Vancouver is the size of a dime.


Why must transit users complain when another transit user gets services that they also need? Oh well I guess that is what happens when you see our regional transit system as a Vancouver transit system.  Vancouverites are only about a quarter of the population who need transit in the metro region.  A large part of the problem are bad priorities that lead to the waste of money on things like the Port Mann and the Perimeter Roads. 

Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

@kropotkin me complain? 

I would love if transit were free, or a public service. I take issue with Vancouver transit specifically because of the structure and value behind it. It seems the whole system was set up to screw users. The three years I lived in the metro area, the zone one card went from $65 to I think it is $91 or $93? So not affordable, especially if you go outside the tiny zone 1 lines.

Bad priorities for sure.



Are there jurisdictions in Europe that don't require a fare?

I'm in New York right now visting my in-laws and the system here is both far more extensive than Toronto's and the fare is actually a bit cheaper.


I believe Austin's public transit system was fareless for a while. Portland, Seattle, Pittsburgh, and Salt Lake City all had fareless public transit within certain zones. Calgary's C-Train has its 7th Avenue Free Fare Zone.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture torrevieja, spain, a city of around 100,000 transit is free for the residents and 1 euro for non residents as of 2008. in auckland there is a free bus that travels the downtown area. new zealand was one of the 1st places to privatize almost everything back in the 70's. auckland transit is operated by no less than 7 different companies as of 2010. eta: car traffic is heavy and bus fares are high.

Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

In Germany and Austria they run on honour system and everyone seems to pay their fares. In Italy it is honour but from what I saw absolutely no one paid to the point where I actually thought it was a free system until I was corrected. 

Portland, Oregon is free transit in the downtown core and most transit is free on new years eve!


RR and I were watching a neat travelogue video and I wish I could remember the country - it was a Scandinavian country and I think it might have been Finland.  Anyhow, they did a humourous bit where the tourist host is asking the locals why they're paying on an honour system, and it never even occurred to them not to pay!  It was cute.


BTW, all public transit in Toronto (including GO Transit) is free after 8 p.m. on New Year's Eve, and they expand the hours of the subway to something like 4 a.m.


In Germany and Austria they

In Germany and Austria they run on honour system and everyone seems to pay their fares. In Italy it is honour but from what I saw absolutely no one paid to the point where I actually thought it was a free system until I was corrected

This IS a bit stereotyped, but it is true that Northern European cultures tend to be more law-abiding than Mediterranean ones. Great in terms of people paying on honour system, not littering (or polluting more seriously like dumping raw sewage or waste oil), and more importantly, in terms of corruption levels. 

Not so great when Germany/Austria and Italy were all fascist.  A Parisian friend of mine of Italian Jewish origin had her and her family's lives saved by a nominally fascist Italian functionary who delivered them a "certificate of Aryanity". Kindness/thinking the Racial Laws were nuts or micro-corruption? Quite likely all three. 

Stereotyped as of course there were a lot of fascist beasts among the Italians and Spaniards, and brave anti-fascists in Germanic-speaking countries... But extended stays in those cultures really underlined differences in behaviour and outlook. 

Your name:


epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Bus Stewards Win More Routes Through Alliance with Riders

New York City transit workers ran a winning campaign when we turned to community organizing in our fight against cuts in service. The cuts to bus service were severe: 38 routes eliminated and 76 with shorter routes or shorter hours. Transport Workers Union (TWU) Local 100 fought the Metropolitan Transportation Authority every step of the way, protesting at board meetings and in front of the director's house. And we managed to get our laid-off workers back over the course of a year.

But the local officers, headed by President John Samuelsen, had run on a promise to form coalitions with the riding public. We knew that to restore lost service, we'd have to involve the communities hit by the cuts. When we did, we discovered an untapped resource of connections our stewards had – outside the workplace....

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

abnormal wrote:

Sven wrote:
Not only accessible but "free," too? Nothing is free.

Didn't you know?  "Free" simply means "[b]someone else[/b] is paying for it".


And "free" is choosing to ignore the statements above you. (or perhaps below you in my honest opinion.)


You wannago there punk? You 'll give up your "free" health care, roads, pension" and all that???

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Privatization and Public Transit in Toronto:

The 2012 Provincial Auditor's Report on Metrolinx


Because of the higher interest costs of borrowing privately and the expectation of a 10–15 per cent profit, P3s inevitably end up costing more than government projects. Therefore, ways are found for P3s to appear to have better value.

One way is through risk assessment and transfer. When using public procurement the province is liable for all risk. But with a P3, risk is shared between the province and the private consortium, driving down the estimated cost to the public of a P3. In many cases, Infrastructure Ontario hires an outside consulting firm to develop the “risk matrix” for the project. This allows further manipulation of the results. If the risk estimate is inflated, the supposed saving by transferring the risk to private hands is equally inflated. Numerous studies have documented the economic fallacies of this process, and the assault on the most basic principle of democracy of accountable expenditures. For example, John Loxley, in his study for CUPE Asking the Right Questions: A Guide for Municipalities Considering P3s (June 2012, p. 18), commented:...

Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

For anyone interested, Babble Book Club is reading Straphanger: Saving Our Cities and Ourselves from the Automobile, and subsequently discussing it as we reading along or just as we think about transit.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Fare Increases to Pay for
New Transit in Toronto: Punishing those who can least afford to pay

Metrolinx, the Greater Toronto Area's regional transit authority, has released a short list of revenue tools that they will consider using to help pay for new public transit in the Greater Toronto Hamilton Area. Projects like the Eglinton, Scarborough, Sheppard and Finch light rapid transit lines (LRTs) will need $2-billion a year from sources other than existing government revenue. Options that made it to their short list were: development charges, employee payroll tax, gas tax, high occupancy toll lanes, highway tolls, land value capture, parking space levy, property tax, sales tax, transit fare increase and vehicle kilometres travelled....

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

May 29, 2013 - Public Forum: Making Transit Work

When: Wednesday, May 29 -- 7pm
Where: Ralph Thornton Centre, 765 Queen Street East

* Jennifer Keesmat, Toronto's Chief Planner
* Stephan Kipfer from the Free and Accessible Transit Campaign, GTWA
* Jessica Bell from TTCRiders

This public forum will explore the complexities of transit planning, raising revenue for transit, the relationships between public transit and social/environmental justice, and ways of improving the state of Toronto public transit.

Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

That sounds like a cool forum. Unfortunately, I don't live in Toronto, but if you're going epaulo13, any details would be much appreciated.

I feel like Toronto's first step to transit is probably (1) oust Rob Ford.


I don't think the point is to get people to trek to other cities, but to pool information and mobilisation strategies.

In the case of Toronto, no, ousting the Ford brothers and there crew won't solve the problem, but it is necessary. Direct and electoral democracy aren't contradictory. I agree that "extraparliamentary" movements are more essential, but you can't discount the electoral arena either.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture


..i actually thought about putting a smilely after saying that i would like to go the forum. i believe i will add one now.

..also my post stated where my interest lies and i didn't discount anything. but since you've raised it my position is that i do have concerns/doubts that electoral politics will bring about the changes needed to address the overwhelming problems we face. it's a corrupted process in a corrupt system that will not change itself. what i see happening is an independent and constant push from many grassroots voices, trying to force open space for a more democratic approach to making political decisions. electoral politics on it's own will not do that. i don't think we disagree but i did want to clarify.

Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

haha, oh!

That's a better, more positive and community-based approach to transit for sure. It definitely seems like it should not be a partisan issue, and hopefully there will be a point when all governments realize transit is great for everyone and the cities they live in and worth investing in.

Sidenote: I feel like Ford goes beyond party politics into the ridiculous when doing things like ripping out bike lanes and such.

Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

I think we all agree that electoral politics don't solve everything (or at this point anything) but that a mayor like Ford has got to go, and that can only really be done through voting, it seems.

Hopefully, comprehensive public transit will become not an "issue" but necessity that all politicians realize and fund.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..i believe that what i present is not a thread drift. the mechanics of it are a bit sketchy but the notion is not a new one. to some extent i may also be projecting my fears. 

..i don't disagree that ford and company needs to go. this is a no brainer. what i would caution against is making it “the priority”. this could possibly be, in my opinion, a huge distraction..a mistake. and if we were to elect someone only slightly better, a questionable victory. this would threaten to take precious resources, both financial and human when there are movements, groups, struggles going on right now that are holding back or facing the onslaught from the corporate/banking sector via austerity, the theft of our resources and the destruction of our environment. example: there was a huge flurry of excitement when the meeting to create a social forum was announced. along with getting rid of harper an idea was hatched that organizing could take place at a grassroots level with general assemblies built from the ground up in our communities. this was meant not only to increase the level of organizing but to also defend current struggles such as those surrounding idle no more, pipelines/tarsands and the que students. the assembly chose to make getting rid of harper the priority and placed non-electoral organizing within communities somewhere in the future. to see how this is going check out the social forum facebook page. it's pitiful.

..common causes is not much better.

..with the social forum to come together in 2014 just in time for the 2015 federal election. it's not totally clear to me how much this occurred by chance or by design but in my eyes it's not a path to the changes we need to be able to both defend ourselves and create a better world that is not based on market and corporate dominance. i've been told these 2 issues are not mutually exclusive but my experience has been that one happens the other never seems to. and we spin our wheels working for an electoral solution that never appears. if they are not happening together, equally something is wrong.

Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

yea, that's a good point about not making it priority in this specific case of transit.

Just kind of seems like a defeating crapshoot -- how do we motivate people to do something, and then when we do, can there actually be follow-through?

With recent events, seems like that is a big n-o.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture


..from post #23. here's something real that has/is being done. this kind of thing can grow into whatever the alliance wants just as long as it is not hijacked for other political purposes. communities/grassroots don't need to "grasp electoral power". they just need to be able to influence or direct it. what is needed are bureaucrats that implement our decisions not polititions that speak for us. imho.

Bus Stewards Win More Routes Through Alliance with Riders

edit for spelling

Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

I guess my question turns in to how will they be able to continue to influence and direct the power they gain once it inevitably goes into the bureaucratic sphere.

BUT, that is a whole lot of pessimism going on there, and you are right to focus on the fact that there has been steps and achievements made. It's easy to turn negative in a political climate like this, where victories seem to be rejected on a whim.


NY Times: [url= Protests Hit Brazil’s Two Biggest Cities[/url]

Protests by an increasingly forceful movement coalescing against increases in bus fares shook Brazil’s two largest cities on Thursday night, the fourth time in a week that activists have taken to the streets in demonstrations that have been marked by clashes with security forces.

The protesters, mainly university students but also activists from leftist political parties, appear to be loosely tied to an organization called the Free Fare Movement, which advocates sharp decreases in public transportation fares or doing away with the fares and financing transit through tax increases.

Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

Megaphone Magazine just came out with a great cover story on the need for comprehensive transit in the growing city of Vancouver and its municipalities.

Between $1 billion and $1.5 billion per year could be reallocated from roadway expansion to transit, cycling, passenger rail and other low-carbon-emission transportation across B.C., according to The Climate Justice Project report, Transportation Transformation. According to Price, current trends show younger people are driving less. 


Meanwhile, an aging population means a growing number of seniors require public transit. The evidence suggests people across the population spectrum could benefit from new, re-allocated funding for transit.


ICBC statistics claim 69 per cent of people 18-24 had a driver’s license in 2011, compared to 79 per cent of the same age group in 1994. Motor vehicle traffic to UBC decreased to 43 per cent in 2011, from 77 per cent in 1997. 


“But we’re still building more bridges and roads than ever, while there are less cars going in and out,” says Price. “If we keep prioritizing road projects, people get locked into car dependence and there are no funds raised for transit. That’s what’s happening in Delta, and now they’re considering cutting bus service rather than improving it.”



It is kind of a mixup here with the two threads, for one thing the blog on the Brazilian struggle I posted is on the other thread.

Here is a blog in English about the Brazilian "free fare" movement:

An a general site

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..i've asked the mods to delete the thread i began re this piece. it fits in this thread quite well. sorry bout that.

The New Struggle for Public Transit:

 Lessons from the Plundering of the London Underground

As we in Canada (and especially Toronto) face the painful and seemingly never-ending process of developing actual projects for public transit expansion, the drumbeat of calls for privatization in its various forms is inescapably present. Indeed, there is a failure even to fund properly the existing public transit network in Toronto and other Canadian cities. The Light Rail Transit (LRT) network proposed for Toronto, as part of the plan of the provincial government agency Metrolinx, has integrated a Public Private Partnership (P3) structure for a 30 year maintenance contract on the new light rail lines on the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission). New projects associated with the federal government and the Ontario provincial governments have “alternative funding mechanisms” (AFM), the term being invoked for P3s and privatization (given the miserable record of P3s so far).

With a series of elections pending and an ongoing ferment about transit issues, a number of commentators featured in the local Toronto media, for example, have been touting the wondrous powers of private ownership to help deal with the fiscal woes associated with current transit constraints in Canada's largest city.



epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..txs lagatta.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Hamburg sets out to become a car-free city in 20 years

Hamburg City Council has disclosed ambitious plans to divert most cars away from its main thoroughfares in twenty years. In order to do so, local authorities are to connect pedestrian and cycle lanes in what is expected to become a large green network. In all, the Grünes Netz (Green Web) plan envisages “eliminating the need for automoviles” within two decades.

By connecting the entire urban centre with its outskirts Hamburg is expecting to smooth inner traffic flow. In all, the northernmost city is to lay out new green areas and connect them with the existing parks, community gardens and cementeries.

Upon completion of the plan Hamburg will pride itself on having over 17,000 acres of green spaces, making up 40% of the city’s area....

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Green bonds to fund transit could be tax-free solution to election problem

Toronto - With the prospect of an election growing more likely every day, the minority Liberals' spring budget may turn out to be more campaign platform than peace treaty.

It will also need to lay out a plan to fund a massive expansion of public transit in the vote-rich Greater Toronto and Hamilton area — one of their key promises — without raising taxes for the middle class.

Premier Kathleen Wynne has promised that a new "revenue stream" to raise the estimated $2 billion a year that's needed to fund public transit will be unveiled in the budget, expected May 1.

But she's ruled out a hike in the HST, gas tax and personal income tax for middle-income families, which has been defined in finance documents as individuals earning between $25,000 to $75,000 a year.

Wynne could raises taxes for businesses or higher-income earners — something the kingmaker New Democrats could support.

Last December, a government-appointed panel recommended that the Liberals raise corporate taxes to 12 per cent, coupled with other measures such as hiking the gas tax and the Harmonized Sales Tax.

Metrolinx, the provincial transit authority, had proposed a 15 per cent increase in development charges for businesses, as well as an average 25 cents per day off-street parking levy, among other "revenue tools."

However, the parking charge could be passed on to drivers who use those spaces in places like shopping malls. As well, both measures on their own won't raise the billions of dollars annually that's needed.

Experts say there is another option: so-called "green bonds," which the government plans to issue this year....


Michael Laxer's rabble blog weighs in: Free transit, three reasons it is an idea whose time has come:

His blog also mentions Desmond Tutu's call for an anti-apartheid style boycott to save the planet:

Remember, it is also important to focus on the "accessible" aspect of this demand. Accessibility for disabled people, for parents pushing strollers, for elderly people. And social accessiblity: one of the main causes of the most recent upsurge in a deprived Parisian suburb, beyond the immediate factor of police targeting youth of colour, is "enclavement", certain neighbourhoods or metropolitan areas with inadequate public transport, and even physical barriers to people walking or cycling outside their 'hood.

Some places in many countries only have bus service at rush hour, but nowadays people work all hours, in particular poor, racialized and otherwise marginalized workers.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..michael laxer mentions estonia. here's more on it.

The Largest Free Mass Transit Experiment in the World

Last January, Tallinn, the capital city of Estonia, did something that no other city its size had done before: It made all public transit in the city free for residents.

City officials made some bold predictions about what would result. There would be a flood of new passengers on Tallinn’s buses and trams — as many as 20 percent more riders. Carbon emissions would decline substantially as drivers left their cars at home and rode transit instead. And low-income residents would gain new access to jobs that they previously couldn’t get to. As Mayor Edgar Savisaar likes to say, zeroing out commuting costs was for some people as good as receiving a 13th month of salary.

One year later, this city of 430,000 people has firmly established itself as the leader of a budding international free-transit movement. Tallinn has hosted two conferences for city officials, researchers and journalists from across Europe to discuss the idea. The city has an English-language website devoted to its experiment. And promotional materials have proclaimed Tallinn the "capital of free public transport."....


epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Ecosocialism and the fight for free public transit

Mass transportation is intimately tied not only to the physical form of cities, but to the deeper social structures of imperial capitalism. A campaign for free public transit can be an important part of a broader fight to restructure society along ecosocialist lines.

Epochal crises allow us to see clearly the irrationalities of capitalism, notably its systematic inability to develop to the fullest human capacities and provide the basis for sustainable and respectful relationships to the rest of nature. The current world economic crisis has thrown to the dustbin of history the aspirations and capacities of millions of human beings – those laid off, driven off the land or relegated to permanent precariousness. At the same time, the crisis has intensified the exploitation of those still connected to gainful employment and driven up, at least temporarily, the ecologically destructive extraction of ‘resources,’ particularly in the global South and the peripheral areas of the global North....

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

How do we become a city where people can walk, cycle, or bus to their destinations safely and efficiently?

It’s hard to miss the growing support for active transportation and transit in Greater Sudbury. It’s also hard to miss the frustration in the pace of change when it comes to supporting these ways of getting around our city.

On May 5, the Sustainable Mobility Advisory Panel (SMAP) presented their update to the Committee Serves Committee of Council. Chair Steve Reitzel spoke.  The panel’s task is to “assist staff and Council in implementing a vision for a holistic approach to a multi-model transportation system where citizens can walk, cycle and/or use public transit efficiently and safely to get to their destinations.” To this end, they brought forward six simple but important recommendations....

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

It's Time For Toronto To Become A Car-Free City

May marks what would have been the 100th birthday of renown urbanist and long-time Toronto resident Jane Jacobs. The occasion will be celebrated as thousands walk in more than 250 city tours in what may be one of the greatest citizen-led walks.

For most, it is a reminder of the values Jacobs laid out so well in her landmark book The Death and Life of Great American Cities, in which she articulated ground-breaking ideas about how cities function, grow and sometimes fail.

Jacobs interpretation of healthy cities described how the physical environment strengthens social networks of streets and communities. She believed in a less car-centred approach that brought people together to create a more intimate relationship with their city.

But a new interpretation of urban health should surely be one that also measures the well-being of its population through key health indicators like air quality and functioning, walkable environments. By this measure, city-building that focuses on walkability becomes a health issue as much as it is one of urban planning and intensification.

Design has an important part to play in this, making walking more popular through better street lighting, wider sidewalks and roads that are free of cars. A number of cities such as Paris and Hamburg have already experimented with car-free days and Oslo plans to ban all private vehicles from its city centre by 2019....

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TTC riders protest low income pass delay

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Over 250 transit riders held a rally today at City Hall and then attended the TTC Commission meeting to protest City Hall’s failure to make the TTC more affordable to low income riders.

We are so frustrated. We were protesting the City’s repeated delays to come up with a plan to give fare discounts to low income riders.  In 2014, TTCriders and the Fair Fare Coalition convinced the city to come up with a plan to make the TTC more affordable to low income riders.  The City was supposed to present their plan to councillors in 2015, but pushed it until today.  Two weeks ago, City staff said they were further delaying the release of its plan until September 28 2016.  

Want to get involved in our organizing?  

  1. Join our email list.  
  2. Join our coalition: contact [email protected].
  3. Send a message to Premier Wynne and John Tory calling for a low income pass and more funding for the TTC. 

Thank you for joining us Ontario Chinese Seniors Association, ATU Local 113, University of Toronto Scarborough Student Union, Toronto Airport Workers Council, PTP Literacy Project, Sistering, Fair Fare Coalition, and more.   Thank you also to Cindy, Herman, Bill, Bob Kinnear, Bill Reno, Monica, Margot, Jill, Tina, Sitharsana, Elis, Karin, Kingsley, Jenn, Adina, Helen Liu, Patricia, Nirmalan, Mike Xie, and more.

 As City Hall delays transit relief, riders suffer.

Sitharsana Srithas is the Vice President External at the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus Students’ Union.  She works full time at the University of Toronto, part time as a waitress, and is also a part time student. To save on transit costs she shares a metropass with her mum and three siblings.  “I choose my schedule based on how available the metropass is,” she said. “Sometimes I have to leave classes earlier or get to work late because the metropass is not available.”

Adina Lebo is the board president of the Canadian Association of Retired People Toronto Chapter.  “I have just three years of savings left, and I expect to be working for the rest of my life,” she said. “I need a break on TTC fares, and I’m not alone.  Some of my CARP Toronto members are telling me they have to choose between buying medicine, eating or using the TTC,” she said.

Toronto is lagging behind many other Canadian cities in making transit more affordable. At $141.50 a month, Toronto has the most expensive metropass in Canada. In Calgary, low income seniors pay $15 a year, and low income riders pay $44 a month.  In Hamilton, low income riders pay $43 a month. Edmonton is set to introduce a low income pass next year.

The City of Toronto’s May report on city’s financial direction shows fare hikes over the past 6 years have increased by 17% when adjusted for inflation.  Property taxes, however, dropped by 4.8%.  

The Fair Fare Coalition and TTCriders are calling for free TTC for people on social assistance, and a $50 a month metropass for low income riders.  The coalition wants fare discounts to be paid for through more government funding, not by hiking fares on other riders, or cutting service.

The TTC gets the least amount of government support per ride of all other major North American transit systems.  Today, the TTC gets about 0.88 cents of government support a ride. In 2010, the TTC received 0.93 cents of government support a ride....