Free and accessible transit now

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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.

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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.

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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....

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..keep us posted please.

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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?

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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 [email protected].


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%.

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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.

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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.

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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

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.


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.

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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


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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.....

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..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.

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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.”

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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.”......

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Liberal leadership candidate Michael Coteau promising free public transit to help curb climate change

An Ontario Liberal leadership hopeful is promising a free ride to curb climate change.

MPP Michael Coteau (Don Valley East) proposes that public transit fares be eliminated within a decade to get commuters out of their cars and onto trains, buses and streetcars.

“Climate change is an urgent, existential threat. We need to act in ways that empower Ontarians to reduce their carbon footprint and save their hard-earned money,” Coteau said Monday.

“Our actions must be bold and decisive ... I believe, as a principle, that like other public services in Ontario, public transit should be free at the point of access,” he said.

“Within the context of a province-wide initiative to identify and mitigate barriers to use of public transit, we will develop and implement a plan to eliminate transit fares incrementally over the course of a decade.”....

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MTA Will Spend $249M On New Cops to Save $200M on Fare Evasion

Guess this is why they don’t call it the Mathematics Transportation Authority.

In a presentation to the MTA Board on Thursday morning, MTA Chief Financial Officer Bob Foran said that Gov. Cuomo’s controversial plan to hire 500 new MTA police officers will cost the agency $249 million over the next four years — partly financed by the $200 million the agency will save over that same period through those and other cops’ anti-fare evasion efforts.

The $249 million price tag was eye-popping to activists, given Foran himself warned of a $426-million deficit projected for 2023.

“Say we had $249M and we could do anything we wanted to improve the subway system, what would you want to see prioritized?” State Senator Jessica Ramos tweeted in reaction to the news.....


epaulo13 wrote:

Liberal leadership candidate Michael Coteau promising free public transit to help curb climate change

An Ontario Liberal leadership hopeful is promising a free ride to curb climate change.

MPP Michael Coteau (Don Valley East) proposes that public transit fares be eliminated within a decade to get commuters out of their cars and onto trains, buses and streetcars.

“Climate change is an urgent, existential threat. We need to act in ways that empower Ontarians to reduce their carbon footprint and save their hard-earned money,” Coteau said Monday.

“Our actions must be bold and decisive ... I believe, as a principle, that like other public services in Ontario, public transit should be free at the point of access,” he said.

“Within the context of a province-wide initiative to identify and mitigate barriers to use of public transit, we will develop and implement a plan to eliminate transit fares incrementally over the course of a decade.”....

That is great news. Does he have a chance of winning?  We only need one public transit system to go free to be an example to the rest. 

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Global wave of transit fare strikes hits Toronto

They entered the station without paying, then jumped the barriers and held them open for other passengers to go through.

Around 20 climate justice activists in Toronto flooded into Osgoode station, the subway station closest to City Hall, on Nov. 29, filling it with a chant: “Public transit should be free! Liberate the TTC!” The Toronto Transit Commission operates buses, subways, streetcars, and light-rail vehicles in the city.

With an action reminiscent of a wave of recent protests from Santiago, Chile, to New York City, Toronto has joined the rank of cities using fare strikes and evasion to push for a transition to an environmentally sustainable economy that relies less on fossil fuels.

Broad support for fare evasion

“There was this very pregnant 10 seconds where we’re hearing the TTC operators say, ‘Okay, doors are closing, please do not stand in the way of the doors,’” said Joey, who participated in the fare evasion.

“Then the train was off,” said Joey, “and there were cheers throughout the train,” including from passengers not associated with the group. “Nobody was scowling.”......

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Free transit is just the beginning

Militant transit struggles are breaking out across the Americas.

In Chile, transit riders responded to a proposed 4 per cent fare hike with explosive protests that included mass turnstile jumping, peaceful marches, and vandalism or destruction of subway stations in Santiago. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s decision to hire 500 more transit cops for New York City’s subway – along with increased fares and a series of viral videos of incidents of police violence in the subway – have triggered massive fare evasion actions and rallies.

Last week, bus riders in Vancouver were refusing to pay fares until TransLink offered a fair contract to transit workers, while activists in Montreal marched for a transit-focused Green New Deal. Others in Toronto plastered the city with beautiful posters calling for free transit and proper funding of the TTC. Fare strikes and rallies for free transit are scheduled in several cities for November 29 – the same day as the global climate strike. Transit workers are striking against their private employer in Washington, D.C. while Vancouver SkyTrain workers voted 96.8 per cent in favour of job action. Campaigns continue to escalate in power and scale.

It’s no coincidence that these efforts are all taking place at the same time. Public transit is one of the most powerful sites of struggle that we have in our cities, given it’s the backbone of how many people get to work, grocery stores, schools, and social activities. The physical nature of the service – requiring strangers to congregate in bus shelters and train stations, often anxious about delays and costs – represents a site of highly effective collective power if harnessed. But it’s the specific demands for free transit, through spontaneous actions of turnstile jumping and campaigns like “swipe it forward,” that knit seemingly disparate movements for climate action, anti-poverty, and prison and police abolition together into a potentially world-changing force......


That is true. But I wish the turnstile jumpers would think to help less agile people over the barriers.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..that would be very cool lagatta.

Free public transport for all to be pledged by Greens

Free public transport for all is to be pledged by the Scottish Greens in its election manifesto, The Scotsman has learned.

The radical move would be paid for by measures such as doubling vehicle excise duty for more polluting vehicles and scrapping the freeze on fuel duty.

It follows Luxembourg announcing it would scrap fares from next March and the successful introduction of free bus travel in the French town of Dunkirk.

The Greens will announce on Monday plans for free bus travel for under-21s as a first step towards universal free public transport.

Despite being one of the smallest parties, the Greens influence on transport policy should not be underestimated, having pushed through the workplace parking levy in Scotland as part of a budget deal with the SNP.....

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Guerrilla MTA signs tell New Yorkers, ‘Don’t snitch. Swipe,’ defending fare evaders

Guerrilla MTA ads urging New Yorkers not to “snitch” on fare evaders have popped up on subway trains and in stations. 

The ads use the MTA’s logo and mimic signs the agency posted after announcing a crackdown on fare evasion. The MTA’s official signs say, “Together, we can make a better system,” and list things commuters can do to help stop fare evasion, such as, “If you need the subway gate, don’t hold it open.” The mock MTA ads say, “Together, we can make a better world,” and list reasons why someone might be evading the fare before encouraging riders to swipe others in.

“Maybe they don’t have $2.75. Maybe they were laid off. Maybe there’s an emergency and no time to refill. Maybe the ticket machines are broken,” the ads say. “Don’t snitch. Swipe.”.....

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Climate Activists Demand Free, Expanded Public Transit System

Montreal climate activists assembled Tuesday to demand the abolition of transit fares alongside network expansion as part of an ambitious plan to slash emissions while reducing economic inequality.

“The point is it marries redistribution of wealth with reduction of fossil fuel consumption,” said Dru Jay, a co-founder of Courage Coalition, which led the protest in collaboration with other groups.

About 60 protesters chanted, sang, and briefly blocked traffic during their march from Laurier station to Place des Fleurs-de-Macadam, a public space near Mont-Royal station.

Jay invoked the yellow vest movement and the election of right-wing premiers across Canada to explain why he sees reducing income inequality as key to the success of climate initiatives.

“If you don’t give people an option to say there really is a way to have happier, healthier communities, a solid transportation network, collective solutions, and redistribution of wealth, […] if it’s just between holding up a middle finger and voting for the same old, they’re going to choose the middle finger.”

The idea of free public transit is catching on around the world: Luxembourg, admittedly tiny, is slated to become the first country to implement the policy on a national scale, and a number of cities have already done so on a local basis, including Dunkirk, France and Tallinn, the capital of Estonia.

“I think we’re at the early stages of getting this idea moving,” said Jay, who emphasized that political will is the bottom line in reversing a major share of Canada’s climate footprint.

Around a quarter of Canada’s emissions come from the transportation sector, which is counted separately from oil and gas.

Free transit in Montreal would cost around $620 million per year above the current level of public investment, according to a 2017 report from the Institut de recherche et d’informations socio-économiques.....

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Climate protesters march from Laurier station. Photo Marcus Bankuti

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'Now Let's Do This Everywhere': Kansas City, Missouri Approves Free Public Transit for All

Lawmakers in Kansas City, Missouri took a "visionary step" on Thursday by unanimously voting to make public transportation in the city free of charge, setting the stage for it to be the first major U.S. city to have free public transit.

The Kansas City Council voted to direct the city manager to set aside $8 million to eliminate the $1.50 per ride fare that currently applies to the city's bus system.

Some frequent riders could save about $1,000 per year under the new plan, according to KCUR, the city's public radio station.

"It'd help me out a lot," college student Michael Mumford, who rides the city's buses at least once per day, told the station. "Put some change in my pocket…buy some books for class."

The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority also expressed approval, with CEO Robbie Makinen telling KCUR that residents will be able to put the money they save on transportation toward other necessities, boosting the economy.

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Make transit free for the sake of our climate and community

We’d never be expected to write a firefighter a cheque before they put out a burning building. Why is public transit any different? As organizers for Free Transit Edmonton, we have a vision for a resilient, more connected city. We see free public transit as a way to address inequality, and climate change in a way that benefits all Edmontonians.

Over 100 municipalities are exploring new ways to fund this essential public service without collecting fares from users. Why not Edmonton?

We want to see this bold policy enacted in our city for racial, social, economic, and climate justice. Making ETS free will create well-paying, permanent jobs, that strengthen and expand our transit system so that it becomes the most convenient, reliable, and accessible way for Edmontonians to get where they need to go.

We commend city council for declaring a climate emergency on Aug. 27, and for taking initiative in Alberta’s hostile political climate to recognize the urgent threat posed by catastrophic climate change.

We’d never be expected to write a firefighter a cheque before they put out a burning building. Why is public transit any different? As organizers for Free Transit Edmonton, we have a vision for a resilient, more connected city. We see free public transit as a way to address inequality, and climate change in a way that benefits all Edmontonians.

Over 100 municipalities are exploring new ways to fund this essential public service without collecting fares from users. Why not Edmonton?

We want to see this bold policy enacted in our city for racial, social, economic, and climate justice. Making ETS free will create well-paying, permanent jobs, that strengthen and expand our transit system so that it becomes the most convenient, reliable, and accessible way for Edmontonians to get where they need to go.

We commend city council for declaring a climate emergency on Aug. 27, and for taking initiative in Alberta’s hostile political climate to recognize the urgent threat posed by catastrophic climate change.

However, Edmonton has the highest per-capita emissions among major Canadian municipalities. Without decisive action to enact policies that will lower the city’s carbon footprint, what does this emergency declaration amount to?

When council met on Nov. 18 to discuss their fare policy report, we took the opportunity to advocate for our proposal. It was disappointing to see that most committee members weren’t ready to take the idea seriously. They pushed for us to make a quick decision — good transit or free transit? We reject this “choice.” We need both.

We know that running and expanding a transit system costs money. Through modest increases in property taxes, along with small municipal levies on things like ride-share programs and business licences, we can create a system that works for everyone. Without it, council is dooming its stated goals of improving transit ridership, tackling poverty, developing a green economy, and addressing climate change.....

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Activists Storm NYC Subways and Landmarks to Protest Excessive Policing, Cost of Public Transportation

In New York City, organizers say some 45 people were arrested Friday night after at least 1,000 New Yorkers took part in a protest calling out the policing and high cost of public transportation. The protest, which was met with a heavy police presence, was the third of its kind in recent months following the announcement of a plan to add 500 police officers to subway stations around the city to clamp down on fare evasion. MTA data shows black and brown people are the most targeted by fare evasion policing. The city recently introduced a new reduced fare program known as “Fair Fares,” but critics say the cost is still prohibitive to many low-income New Yorkers. This is Marz, an activist with Decolonize This Place, one of the groups organizing the demonstrations.

Marz: “People keep telling us to be civilized, to call your representative, your senators. But what we understand is that law isn’t justice. And what we’re asking for, again, is very simple. We want free transit, not a 'fair fare.' What is this 'fair fare' idea? If someone can’t pay $2.75, what makes you think they could pay half the price? We asked for free fare, not 'fair fare.' And I think that that’s just a way for them to coopt and silence movements, to give a select few benefits without giving it to all.”

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Good to see that. The STM semi-cops target youth of colour more than anyone else. Here, other than Black and Brown people, Indigenous people really get it.

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J31 Fare Strike at Grand Central Station

Just a few hours before the J31 Fare Strike convened at Grand Central Station, I had the opportunity to speak with Mayor de Blasio as a call-in to the Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC. I alerted the Mayor to the fare strike taking place that day, scheduled by various NYC transit advocacy groups in reaction to the 500 new Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) officers Gov. Cuomo and ex-NYCTA Pres. Byford approved to monitor the subways. I mentioned that both parties publicly admitted that the purpose of the officers is not public safety, but instead to issue fines as a means of lost revenue recuperation. These officers are being deployed at a cost of $250-million over three years, or as I said, at least 2.5 million fare-evasion tickets.

Being that de Blasio has touted himself as being against over-policing and the criminalization of poverty, I asked how he could allow this to happen in his city? I continued to press him on whether he would support a fare-free system, which studies have shown can lead to better funding of mass transit budgets.

The Mayor provided a very politically pat answer. To the point of a fare-free system, he responded that it was an interesting idea but he struggles to understand the logistics. To the issue of the 500 new MTA officers whose purpose is to penalize the impoverished without even a pretense of safety, he commented that the MTA officers would have to go through the NYPD’s community policing training programs. I’ll speak to the aforementioned logistics later, but as a first-hand witness to the NYPD’s community policing tactics last night, I’d like to begin there.

Lesson in Civil Disobedience

Upon arrival at Grand Central Station, there were groups of NYPD officers holding semi-automatic rifles and German shepherds on the platform. I was carrying a protest sign and could feel their eyes affixed on me. I was terrified on account of being alone, if they were to accost me there would be no witnesses. Fortunately, I quickly ran into friends. We entered the main concourse and joined the mass of protesters who assembled in the center surrounded by police. My friends were carrying a badminton set with them and began setting it up as a way to exercise joy in defiance of the scare tactics demonstrated by the police. Within seconds we were bum-rushed by dozens of NYPD officers. Two of us were literally picked off the ground by the police and immediately arrested, no questions, no warning. Legal-aid volunteers pushed forward to the defense of my friends, and I witnessed NYPD officers body check them so that the volunteers weren’t able to follow.

Over the next two hours I witnessed cops tackling non-violent protesters, I witnessed a man cuffed with his hands behind him get punched in the back of the head by a cop, I witnessed an officer press a man’s head to the floor using his boot, and I overheard many cops with their fingers on their gun holsters joking with each other about teaching everyone a lesson. These are the community policing techniques the Mayor believes I should feel rest assured the MTA is following?.....

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Councilman calls for MTA to provide free NYC subway and bus service year round

This city politician wants to turn the turnstile into a relic of the past.

Councilman Mark Treyger is calling on the MTA to make subways and buses free year-round.

“There is a real opportunity to reimagine mass transit in New York,” Treyger (D-Brooklyn) said, citing the recent departure of subway chief Andy Byford. “New York can take a big bite out of poverty, mass incarceration, income inequality and our impact on climate change.”.....


Absolutely. They are spending a fortune on quasi-cops; most of this spending could be averted by removing the turnstiles (there would still have to be some control of actual security concerns such as assault and theft from fellow commuters, as anywhere in a city).

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Cities turn to freewheeling public transport

In the United States, once the home of car culture, cities are increasingly experimenting with free public transport. But the idea is not an American preserve: it’s catching on fast across the globe.

In the French capital, Paris, the mayor is removing 72% of city car parking spaces. Birmingham in the UK is encouraging drivers to leave their cars at home and use public transport instead, or to walk or cycle. More public transport use means less toxic urban air, fewer greenhouse gas emissions − and happier citizens better equipped to escape one key aspect of poverty.

Transport is one of the big polluters. Cities in particular want more efficient, cleaner ways of moving people. The good news is that recent innovations suggest an effective answer: if public transport is free, more people are likely to use it, instantly cutting car use and pollution.

That kind of behaviour change can happen surprisingly fast. Around 100 cities worldwide currently run fare-free transit, most of them in Europe. Even in the US, home of the motor car, cities are showing increasing interest.

Sharing costs

Kansas City in Missouri and Olympia in Washington state have both said their buses will become fare-free this year. Worcester, Massachusetts’ second-largest city, has expressed strong support for waiving bus fares – a move that would cost $2-3 million a year in fares foregone.

The Rapid Transition Alliance (RTA) is a UK-based organisation which argues that humankind must undertake “widespread behaviour change to sustainable lifestyles … to live within planetary ecological boundaries and to limit global warming to below 1.5°C”.

It says: “A rapid change is under way, bringing into question the role of the car and promoting public transport that is available for all.”

Fare-free transit can also help to cut poverty. The benefits of maintaining a transit system that drives the economy and helps residents at all income levels to get to their jobs, while keeping commuters off the roads, are so great that some urban leaders say the costs should be shared fairly by taxpayers.

Pollution cut

Birmingham and Paris both aim to increase the space for cyclists and walkers by taking it away from car owners, traditionally privileged by planners. Does cutting road space, far from increasing congestion, actually cut pollution instead? The RTA thinks it can.

The Paris mayor, Anne Hidalgo, is basing her re-election campaign on ensuring that “you can find everything you need within 15 minutes from home.” She wants to see the return of the more self-sufficient neighbourhood, and aims to make all roads safe for cyclists by 2024.

Birmingham will introduce incentives for businesses to remove parking spaces through the introduction of an annual workplace parking levy, and the city will build 12,800 new homes on former car parks. Freight deliveries will be restricted to out-of-hours times, and there will be a blanket 20 mile an hour (32 kph) speed limit on the city’s local roads.

Free mass transit offers a practical, fast option for change − and a relatively cheap one. It can boost the local economy. The deputy mayor of Ghent, in Belgium, Filip Watteeuw, has said that since the provision of free city transit there “has been a 17% increase in restaurant and bar startups, and the number of empty shops has been arrested”.....


I have friends currently living in Ghent (Gent in Flemish;  Gand in French). They had retired to SW France but it was becoming too expensive and would become difficult if they could no longer drive. Though the weather is cooler and rainier, they are very happy in Ghent, where there is a large university and students from all over, as well as quality public transport and good cycling and walking infrastructure.

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..txs lagatta. i gave up driving it must be 11 yrs ago. financially it has worked out to be a very good move on my part..even if say so myself. :) and today even though i live only on a government pension i don't have financial insecurities. i don't worry about money. that in itself is worth a million bucks. and i can't say the same about the years that i had a car.

Campaign for Improved and Democratized Transit in Ottawa

Our ‘New Vision’ involves demands for a significant expansion of ‘Fare Free’ and accessible transit, improved service, and a governance structure that would make transit decisions more accountable to the citizens of Ottawa.

Campaign Demands

Affordability: We propose that transit should be free to use during off-peak hours (i.e. between 9:00 am to 3:00 pm; 6:00 pm to 6:00 am; and on weekends).

Improved Transit: In order to make transit more reliable, expansive, and convenient we propose that 50 buses should be added to the weekend service, neighborhood bus routes should be created to link citizens to local health and social services, shopping and entertainment (i.e. beginning in priority areas such as Vanier, Bay Ward, West Ottawa and Barrhaven), 40 vehicles should be added to the Para Transpo fleet, and bus-only lanes should be created on the most habitually late routes.

Democratized Transit: We believe that the transit system will be improved by allowing the citizens who use transit, and the workers that operate it, to have input into the decisions that affect their lives. Therefore, we propose that the Transit Commission should include 4 directly-elected citizen representatives and 2 representatives from the transit workers union, ATU Local 279, and 6 (as opposed to the current 8) City Councillors.

This plan, including the loss of fare revenues, would cost roughly $95-million. We propose to finance it by devoting the increase in the federal gas tax to OC Transpo, increasing development charges on new single – family suburban housing, raising parking rates, reducing the planned two lane road widening projects to one lane, and eliminating the wasteful tax break for building on Brownfield (previously used) lands.

Estimated Cost of Our Demands and How to Pay for Them

We have estimated that the cost of our “new vision” for public transit in Ottawa will cost $95-million. Please see below for a breakdown of the cost of each demand followed by our proposal to finance them.


  • Fare Free Transit in Off Peak Hours
    • Making transit free in off peak hours (9:00 am – 3:00 pm; 6:00 pm – 6:00 am; & weekends) has an estimated cost of $55-million.
    • Current fare revenue is approximately $190-million. We’ve been advised that 25-30% of ridership is in off-peak hours suggesting that somewhere between $47-million and $57-million of the $190-million (total fare revenue) is collected during off peak hours.
  • Adding 40 Vehicles to Para Transpo Fleet
    • Adding 40 vehicles to Para Transpo (this represents a 20% increase to the current fleet) has an estimated cost of $6-million.
    • We also support the implementation of an online booking system, in addition to the existing phone booking system, which will cost approximately $1-million.
  • Increasing Weekend Bus Service
    • We propose increasing the frequency of weekend service by adding 50 buses to weekend service (i.e. 1 per each ‘Frequent’ and ‘Local’ bus route currently operating. The estimated cost of this is $22.5-million.
    • We calculated this figure by dividing OC Transpo’s annual operating cost by the number of vehicles, which yields a cost of $425,000 per vehicle, or $22.5-million for 50 additional buses. This estimate corresponds to other published figures.
  • Creating New Bus Only Lanes
  • We propose that bus only lanes should be enforced during rush hours on Bank, Montreal Road, Laurier, Carling, Woodroffe, Merivale, Hunt Club and Riverside Drive to increase the reliability of the most habitually late buses [6, 7, 15 (was 12), 21, 39, 55 (was 103) 75 (was 94) 80, 85 and 87]. This would have a nominal cost.​
  • Creating New Neighbourhood Bus Routes
    • We are calling for the creation of new ‘neighbourhood’ bus routes that link citizens to local health & social services, shopping and entertainment. These would begin in priority areas such as Vanier, Bay Ward, West Ottawa and Barrhaven. This would involve adding 27-28 regular buses or 50 Para Transpo vehicles. Estimated cost is $11.5-million. [See “Increasing Weekend Bus Service.”]
  • Restructuring Transit Commission
    • We are calling for the democratization of the Transit Commission. This will involve restructuring the Transit Commission to consist of 6 City Councillors, 4 directly elected citizens and 2 representatives of ATU Local 279. This will have only a nominal cost.

Financial Plan

We propose that the $95-million needed to finance our “new vision” for public transit can come from the following sources:....


Thanks a lot for this detailed and costed plan. Bank Street is horrible. I have family in Ottawa South - I could actually walk there faster, but it is a long, long walk when the weather is foul. Also in Gatineau (Aylmer and le Vieux Hull) but the bus to those usually functions well.

Why has the new light rail line become so fouled up?

There should simply not be any more new single-family housing within Ottawa (yes, taking the bus or train there I see how far it goes out into the forest). Soundproofing is infinitely better than it was a few decades ago, and there are ways of affording privacy to families with children and to those without (or whose children have grown) without such waste of land or car dependency.

Shouldn't there be a light-rail or tramline along Bank? (Excuse me if there is; I haven't been to Ottawa/Gatineau in a while). I might go there to see this .... after the railway conflict is solved.