Free and accessible transit now

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epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Time for feds and province to step up on public transit

A number of programs designed to support businesses – and save jobs – were announced by the federal government last week. The latest being the Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF), which provides loans in an effort to bail out large corporations. 

Yet while services and jobs at the municipal level face astronomical threats in this time of COVID, they haven't received the same level of support from Ottawa.

In Toronto’s case, the city has lost hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue from deferred property taxes and the suspension of user fees.

With fewer options to bring money into the city, increased funding by the federal government for municipalities is imperative. So is trust in essential services like public transit to remain operational and safe.

However, reports of individuals not being able to physically distance on the TTC are popping up. A recent photo circulating on Twitter shows riders standing shoulder to shoulder. Public safety is being eroded. 

At the same time, climate change remains a threat. Toronto needs to continue on its path of reducing carbon emissions and creating a more resilient city. Public transit is a vital part of that solution.

Transitioning to a post-pandemic world – one in which COVID-19 is our reality but the spread of the virus is managed — means we must centre our collective efforts on adopting a more sustainable lifestyle. The TTC is crucial to reshaping that future. Only a well-funded transit system, including from the province, will be able to accommodate returning riders under new protocols. This means reducing the TTC’s over-reliance on fares to fund operational costs.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, essential workers along with those unable to work from home have continued to rely on public transit. For many, transit is still needed to run errands, shop for groceries and tend to caregiving duties.

But as the expected drop in ridership has occurred – as of the end of April, TTC daily ridership has declined to 300,000 from its pre-COVID number of 1.8 million – not nearly enough attention has been paid to the TTC’s future, despite action to re-open the economy over the coming weeks. 

Instead, in the age of COVID-19, it’s mere existence is under siege. Service reductions and staff layoffs have put an already starved service into questionable territory, as the TTC attempts to limit anticipated revenue losses of $300 million by Labour Day.... 

lagatta4

The car-nuts are out in force on some less progressive boards to "prove" that the pandemic has made public transport (as well as cycling and walkable neighbourhoods) a death trap.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..yes lagatta. cars seem to rule today (privatisation). with transit (socialisation) on the chopping block.

Petition to Support Emergency Funding to #KeepTransitMoving!

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the safety of every person depends on safe, accessible public transit. Frontline workers in essential services, from health care to grocery stores, are relying on transit to get to work. But transit systems are running out of money because they depend on fares for most of their operating funding. We urge you to implement a transit stimulus plan that includes: 

  1. Emergency funding now, so that transit agencies can continue to operate enough service for transit workers and riders to practice physical distancing and purchase adequate PPE and cleaning supplies. 

  2. Permanent federal and provincial transit operations funding

  3. Public ownership of transit, so that infrastructure investment is cost-effective and benefits the public, not private firms.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Keep Transit Moving

Join the May 28th day of action for emergency transit funding!

Essential workers -- like nurses, doctors and sanitation staff -- rely on transit to get to work. 

But public transit systems across Canada are facing service cuts and driver layoffs, because they depend mostly on fares for funding.  Right now we need more service, not less, for safe physical distancing on transit! 

Here’s how you and your organization can participate in the online day of action: 

1) Save the date for May 28th

  • RSVP using the form below

  • Or click “attending” on Facebook

2) Spread the word!

  • Get your local community and organization on board!

  • Download promotional graphics and share on social media with the hashtag #keeptransitmoving  

3) On May 28th, share why public transit matters to you

  • Download graphics from our toolkit and share on social media

  • Take a selfie and explain why transit is important for you. Use the hashtag #keeptransitmoving and tag your elected representatives on social media

  • Make phone calls to PM Trudeau and your local MP and provincial representatives (more info will be posted on this page and on Facebook on May 28)

Bacchus

Since there is no enforcement and you have to enter by rear doors, most people I see in Toronto are not paying to get on the bus. I also suspect car use will skyrocket when this is over due to people not wanting to take the train or bus

lagatta4

That would be as bad as the pandemic.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..here's a link that lists free public transit around the world.

Free Public Transport

..under canada there's this:

Locations with #freepublictransit due to Corona Virus in Canada

Cities that have rear door loading for buses during COVID19:
Vancouver
Calgary
Montreal
Toronto
Regina
Ottawa
Brandon
Victoria
Saskatoon
Edmonton
Kingston
Peterborough
St. John’s
Halifax
Hamilton
Mississauga
Guelph
ALL of BC Transit

Cities that have refused to do it:

Winnipeg

— ATU Local 1505 (@ATU1505) March 24, 2020

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Coronavirus: Confusion over free public transport at level 2

Despite initial confusion over who will pay for it, Greater Wellington Regional Council has confirmed fares will remain free for all trains and buses in Wellington until the end of June.

All public transport nationwide has been free since March 24, with the Government's transport agency picking up the tab for lost revenues.

As recently as Thursday, multiple regional councillors and Metlink officials told Stuff that fares would be fully subsidised by NZTA until June 30.....

lagatta4

It seems unclear in Montréal, with noises that they will soon return to fares, but so far they haven't. This really isn't fair, as it means poor people could be targeted despite no clear posting of fares.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Can Free Fares Save Public Transit?

The coronavirus has crashed bus ridership by 80 per cent across the Vancouver region. Former riders are fearful of catching the virus from the shared air in enclosed vehicles and the many grab bars touched by many hands. A system worth tens of billions of dollars may, for who knows how many years, fail to be fully utilized and thus not worth the cost.

That’s a crisis. The time for a radical rethink is now. How can we revive a system that is currently bleeding cash at a rate of up to three-quarters of a billion dollars a year?

Making transit free for the rider should be a key part of the answer, and here is why.

We’d be emulating lots of places around the world already moving to fare-free transit. Recently Luxembourg, for example. That small country, a bit less populated than Vancouver, keyed off a fact shared by public transit operations around the world. Fares make up an ever smaller share of the overall cost.

Replacing fares with other revenue sources often makes sense for a variety of reasons. Here in the Vancouver region, only 36 per cent of TransLink’s annual budget is collected at the fare box. The other 64 per cent comes from various taxes on property, parking, development and gas. The total 2019 budget, all in, for the system is $1.82 billion. The amount of that collected at the fare box is about $660 million.

That $660 million is shrinking as ridership plummets. But raising fares to fill the funding gap simply will drive more people away from transit. We need to attract them, instead, or our road congestion and pollution woes will become intolerable.

Part of attracting users back must include adding health safety features not presently available.....

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

The battle in Edmonton for a new kind of transit

In March, cities across Canada implemented fare-free public transit and back door boarding to encourage social distancing and curb the spread of COVID-19. On March 20, the City of Edmonton moved to temporarily suspend fare collection on all Edmonton Transit Service (ETS) buses, LRT and DATS services. Now, as many cities ‘relaunch’ their economies, municipalities are starting to bring fares back, leaving the workers that have relied on transit throughout the pandemic behind.

Fighting layoffs and privatization

Since the pandemic began in March, Edmonton transit workers have faced layoffs, redeployment and high levels of anxiety on the job. Scheduling has also undergone major changes; with schools no longer being in session, ridership has decreased drastically. The City of Edmonton has argued that the decrease in ridership has created less of a need for transit workers, laying off 300 transit workers in Edmonton. At least 3,800 transit workers have been laid off nationally.

There have been major workplace changes for transit operators since fares were made free in March. Changes in the protocols and frequency of cleaning, overcrowding, and safety issues between riders and operators.

The need for cleaning services has drastically increased, with many workers being redeployed to cleaning services for buses and transit centres. At the beginning of the pandemic, the City of Edmonton briefly contracted out cleaning services. ATU Local 569 organized and won Mayor Don Iveson and city councillors to agreeing to train laid off union members to do the cleaning work of private contractors.

Overcrowding has been another main issue for transit riders and operators. As of June 9, ridership on ETS was up approximately 50 percent from pre-COVID levels from its low of 28 percent since the pandemic began in March.

In a letter to City Council, Steve Bradshaw, President of ATU Local 569, expressed deep concern about increased ridership, stating, “The simple, obvious solution the Union sees to this problem is to ramp up service levels co-incident with the increase of ridership.”

Symptoms of poverty and homelessness

In the absence of a provincial housing strategy, zero-fare transit has also allowed many people facing homelessness to find shelter on buses and in transit stations. In Calgary, the municipality planned on housing people in hotels during the pandemic, but that plan was rejected by the province in April. Many who have used Edmonton’s Expo Centre drop-in space have stated that they were unable to access services like showers and laundry and didn’t feel safe utilizing the services.

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Union support

ATU Canada has endorsed the movement for free transit and supports the move towards a fare-free system. In an interview with RankandFile.ca, Di Nino stated that making transit free is possible if governments are willing to invest in it.

“We need to be cautious of what fare-free transit is going to look like. We can’t call for it if governments are not willing, as part of a National Transit strategy, to invest money into the concept.”

In a national poll commissioned by ATU Canada, 91 percent of Canadians agree that governments have a responsibility to ensure that people everywhere can access safe, reliable and affordable transit.

“Governments have a responsibility to move to fare-free transit, and this is how we deal with mobility rights, climate change issues and so on,” says De Nino. “When we say affordable public transit, we also mean fare-free public transit.”

Local 569 president Steve Bradshaw is also in support of the concept.

“It’s an equity issue. Nobody expects you to pay for fire services or a library card – these are things that ought to be paid for out of the tax base. People ought to be able to transport themselves on our public transportation system. That’s our job as taxpayers and citizens; to provide for one another.”

lagatta4

It also promotes public transport use, as opposed to usually polluting and always dangerous and congesting use of private cars, which are also a huge financial drain on low-paid workers.

In general, major métro stations and connecting bus stations also need quality, clean public toilets. And public showers are also a social need, though I'm not sure the public transport system is the best place to locate them.

Pondering

Free transit would encourage car owners to use it and discourage people from buying cars.

I think ground level washrooms in metro stations is an excellent idea. Montmorency already has them. Metro stations are a huge waste. Ground floors could be commercialized and those with nothing above could be built up to provide space for daycares, pharmacies, grocery stores etc. rent from which could pay for the public restrooms.

Cabot Square, which I have long called Atwater park as it used to be the bus terminus when the Green line ended there. They have a rotunda the basement of which was a public washroom with attendant. Montreal used to have public washrooms. It's a no brainer to install them at place des festivals and the old port.

Public showers shouldn'd be needed. Homelessness in Canada should be unheard of and hopefully this pandemic is going to force the issue this winter.

It has been some help to women fleeing domestic violence as some hotels are being used as shelters because the actual shelters don't leave room for social distancing.

Hotel business isn't going to bounce back. There is space to house everyone and they may have to this winter.

Of course if we can get basic income going that will go a long way to housing people.

lagatta4

While I agree with you, Pondering, we do need public showers in the meantime, with safe storage of the users' possessions.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

ACT NOW: Ford must fully match federal transit funding

Transit agencies across Ontario have been cutting service and laying off workers because they have lost up to 100 percent of their fare revenue since March. Ontario’s largest transit agency, the TTC, is projecting a $700-million budget shortfall by the end of 2020. 

The federal government has announced it will chip in up to $1.8 billion for public transit, but will only match dollar-for-dollar what provinces put in.

This means Ontario could receive between $600 and $900 million federal dollars, with the TTC receiving between $300 and $450 million.

While the federal money is a step in the right direction, if the TTC is to avoid drastic layoffs, fare hikes and service cuts the province must step in and match the federal governemnt's commitment.

We cannot afford to leave any money on the table.

Fill out the form below to demand the Ford government fully match the federal government’s commitment to fund transit operations. This funding is the only way to ensure transit systems can recover from the pandemic without mass layoffs and painful service cuts. 

The provincial government used to fund 50 per cent of the operating costs of transit. If this government is truly committed to helping Ontario recover and helping commuters, it needs to take this opportunity to step-up and permanently fund transit operating costs. People who count on transit in Ontario deserve accessible, fast, and reliable service at an affordable price.

ACT NOW:

Please fill out the form below to send a message to the Minister of Transportation, Premier Doug Ford, and your local MPP to demand the government fund transit in Ontario.....

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

How We Move Is How We Survive

Free Transit Toronto, Free Transit Ottawa, Courage, Climate Justice Toronto, and others

The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly affected public transit in cities and towns across Canada. There are fewer riders as people who are able to stay home avoid public transit to physically distance. For those who rely on it, however, transit remains a necessity as it was pre-pandemic. Our governments’ responses have been to threaten massive transit budget cuts.

We write this letter to underline the necessity for further public investment in public transit, not a move away from it – and certainly not a move back toward transit fare enforcement. We write as organizations and individuals committed to a future for transit that is public, free, expanded, and just.

We embrace mobility as a human right and understand that for many, public transit is a necessity people rely on to get to work and move within our city. Public transit must therefore be a priority for federal and provincial budgets and should not be funded by passenger fares. Transit decisions in Toronto illustrate an opposite reality: the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) depends on fares for 67% of its operating budget – the highest ratio in North America. As ridership has decreased during the pandemic, costs of operation have increased, and more riders cannot afford this essential service, the TTC is now in a financial crisis losing $18-million per week.

Reimagining a Just Public Transit System

As in Toronto, other transit systems face huge challenges. Much of the current budget crunch is underpinned by years of cuts from provincial governments (providing only marginal contributions to operational funding) and the federal government (funding only certain expansion projects). In this emergency, massive public funding – not austerity budget cuts – is needed to meet current needs, cover the budget shortfall and reimagine a just public transit system. Raising fares or selling off public services to cover the costs of the pandemic will only further hurt the working class, while also undermining quality service. Cuts to public transit represent a decision to prioritize private profit over a just recovery for all. We must prioritize public transit and change the funding structures for it.

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To Deal with the Current Situation

  • The provincial and federal governments must immediately increase existing emergency transit funding sufficiently to make up for the budget shortfalls of transit authorities, expand service to end overcrowding, allow for spatial distancing, and provide PPE and sick days for workers.
  • Wherever this has not happened yet, fares should be publicly canceled for the duration of the pandemic and the recovery period while CERB or other federal and provincial income supports are in effect.
  • Transit authorities and governments must not reinstitute fare enforcement where it was discontinued. Fare enforcement has proven to be a vehicle for aggressive and racist policing.

To Address the Future

Permanent and ample operating funding must be provided by both federal and provincial governments to fund free, expanded, and just transit systems.

Funding should prioritize:
Affordable public transit for all, beginning with free fares for those on public assistance, youth, and seniors, with a path toward free transit for all;

Expanded public train and bus transit to address the inequities in access to our current public transit experienced by racialized and poor, rural, Indigenous, and disabled communities; and

Just public transit that is safe for both workers and riders.

This funding should be coordinated by a federal transit agency equipped with a guaranteed budget – and which makes decisions based on democratic and equitable planning.

To meet the demand for additional transit infrastructure, manufacturing capacity should be expanded across Canada, starting with facilities such as the now closed GM Oshawa complex and the threatened Bombardier plants in Thunder Bay and Toronto.

There must be a commitment not to fund transit budget shortfalls through fares or fare-hikes. The essential workers who got us through this crisis and will continue to rely on public transit after this crisis do not deserve to shoulder the costs of it, nor do those millions of riders making their way in a fragile economic recovery.

laine lowe laine lowe's picture

Thanks for that Epaulo. It would be interesting to see how Asian cities that are highly dependent on using public transportation are dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. The kneejerk reaction is to be afraid of getting on buses and subway cars but I would think that there are lessons to be learned from those countries that rely more heavily on public transportation.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..that could be a good project for you laine. :) 

Ford government attempting to use pandemic to privatize and cut public transit services

Unifor is calling on the Ontario government to immediately drop conditions contained in its Federal-Provincial Safe Restart Agreement that include municipal public transit privatization and service reduction measures.

“Public transit is not the problem, it’s actually the solution to many of our economic challenges. Yet the Ford government is intent on advancing an agenda of service cuts and privatization when transit agencies have been among the hardest hit by the pandemic,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Using the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to slip in ideologically-motivated conditions on public transit funding is unthinkable. Ontarians aren’t going to accept this senseless undermining of such a valuable and necessary service.”

Unifor learned of specific requirements that municipalities seeking Phase II of funding for transit under the Federal-Provincial Safe Restart Agreement would be required to fulfill. Most troubling are the requirements that municipalities must work with the Province and Metrolinx, where applicable, to determine the feasibility of implementing microtransit options on certain routes. This could result in the use of privately-run, on-demand, app-based modes of transportation, such as Uber or Lyft. Municipalities will also be required to review low performing bus routes to determine whether they could also be served better by microtransit.

Unifor outlined its concerns with the strategy in a letter sent to Minister of Transportation Caroline Mulroney yesterday.

“The funding under this agreement is public money. That means it should not be withheld under any circumstances, especially during this pandemic when our cities and public transit systems are in critical need of financial help,” said Naureen Rizvi, Unifor’s Ontario Director. “We cannot and will not allow the government to threaten reducing transit service levels on supposed ‘low-performing’ routes that threatens the quality of life for marginalized people in this province.”

Unifor is calling on the Ontario government to immediately remove its regressive conditions from the Safe Restart Agreement and work with trade unions to expand public transit services and ensure communities have access to adequate funding.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

The 35 Jane

What a bus route reveals about race, class, and social vulnerability during a pandemic.​

At the height of stay-at-home orders in late March, when public transit ridership had dropped to as low as 14 percent of pre-pandemic levels, some residents in Toronto’s northwest took to social media to complain about overcrowding at TTC stops and on vehicles. Buses which were supposed to carry no more than 15 passengers were packed elbow-to-elbow with 50, 60, sometimes 70 people, mostly visible minorities. One of those buses, the 35 Jane, was the busiest in all of Toronto. In a heat map produced by the TTC showing overcrowded surface routes, the 35 Jane lit up like a glow stick.

When urban planner André Darmanin took the route in May, it was the first time he’d taken transit since before the pandemic. “It was standing room only, even with the seat spacing,” he recalls. Even though it was a Saturday, the visible signs of people commuting to and from work were all around him—a person in a No Frills shirt, others in work boots and construction gear. “There was a lot of yelling, complaining to the driver about the lack of social distancing on the bus.” 

With the city’s recent release of COVID-19 neighbourhood-level data, we now know that the 35 Jane cuts through many of the hardest hit areas in the city. Setting aside the outbreaks in health care institutions and looking at only community cases (the city calls them “sporadic” cases), a cluster of racialized, working class neighbourhoods in Toronto’s northwest has become the city’s COVID-19 epicentre.

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The story of COVID-19 in Toronto is actually the story of two pandemics laid atop one another. The first pandemic feels a lot like SARS. The tragic situation in long-term care homes, in particular, bears resemblance to the 2003 outbreak, when the majority of deaths in Toronto were confined to health care institutions. The second pandemic, on the other hand, feels more like a natural disaster, rapidly engulfing an entire region but only devastating areas where race and class divisions are most pronounced.

We’ve seen this familiar story before—during Hurricane Katrina, Andrew, the Chicago heat wave of 1995, and just about every natural disaster that comes into contact with racial and economic inequality. In the Miami area during Hurricane Andrew, Black residents were two-thirds less likely to evacuate than whites. When Katrina slammed into New Orleans in the early hours of August 29, 2005, most of the city’s 460,000 inhabitants had already evacuated. After the levees broke, we saw desperate people clinging to whatever personal belongings they still had, stranded on rooftops in the Lower Ninth Ward. Analysis later confirmed what we all saw on the rolling news coverage: 80 percent of people stranded on rooftops were Black. “Didn’t these residents get the same warning to evacuate as everybody else?” the line of enquiry usually went. 

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In Toronto during this pandemic, just as in New Orleans, we’ve seen that public health instructions are only as successful as citizens’ ability to follow them. Two full weeks into the pandemic, the TTC sent out the following tweet on March 31: “35 Jane: Your route has been identified as very busy before 7 a.m. on weekdays. Unless your trip is essential, please consider travelling after 7:30 a.m. to encourage physical distancing.” They also requested riders to practise physical distancing at bus stops and on vehicles. Of course, no one listened. How could they? If you’re a shift worker who leaves for work between five and seven in the morning, which a third of people in these neighbourhoods do on a regular basis, you don’t have a choice in the same way that people in the Lower Ninth Ward didn’t have a choice to evacuate to a safer location. The TTC, to its credit, announced the very next day that six extra buses would be added to the route.

But this second pandemic isn’t about public transit, per se. Once you solve the bus problem, you quickly realize that people still have to congregate in warehouses, work the cash registers, and clean emergency rooms while the rest of us work from the safety of our bubbles. People who study natural disasters call this social vulnerability—the conditions that make certain communities more susceptible to disasters than others. And it has everything to do with race, class, and economic opportunity.

lagatta4

Absolutely. Here is is the northeast, especially St-Michel and Montréal-Nord. Jean-Talon East is the busiest bus line. If the diagonal "pink line" could get built, it would slash commuter time for people who live in those neighbourhoods and work in the two "mega-hospitals" and other central Montréal locations. There is a vicious rightwing carhead campaign to insinuate that public transport is inherently unsanitary and encourage workers to go deep into debt to buy cars or (worse) SUVs.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

INTERVIEW: THE RELEVANCE OF PEOPLE’S BUSES IN TIMES OF ECONOMIC CRISIS, MUNICIPALITY OF QAMISHLO

This report was published by the Rojava Information Center on 13 August, 2020.

Why did you decide to create the Basên Gel?

During different public meetings with the inhabitants of Qamishlo, the people had brought up which problems they faced in their daily mobility. One important problem was that the owners of the foxes (privately run minibus service, 100-200 pounds per trip), and the taxis were asking for a lot of money (1,000-2,000 pounds per trip), also due to the inflation of the Syrian pound. Once we had decided to develop a public transport system, we figured out what the route should be: it was important to connect the souke (market) in the city center with the outer parts of the city. The project started 2019, we bought 7 buses to begin with, as a first step. To promote the new bus service, we offered one week free travel, so people could get to know and understand it. Then, we introduced the ticket price of 25 Syrian pounds per person, which is very very cheap (as of today the price is 50). For children and old people the ride is free. We bought more buses, now they are 18 which serve four lines that run through the city. And we made bus shelters, to protect the passengers from rain. The people are happy about the new buses, most importantly because they can travel cheaply.

lagatta4

Lovely to hear about such a people's initiative.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

lagatta4 wrote:

Lovely to hear about such a people's initiative.

..i feel the same way

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Comment: Make public transit free for all

The recent discovery that the Capital Regional District is “not even close” to meeting its emission targets shows that nibbling around the edges of the climate crisis will not get the job done.

Existing measures like active transit, charging stations and building retrofits are fine, but do not address the core of the problem. Worse still, they continue the illusion that the solution lies in individual lifestyle decisions.

Instead, we need to ask where the bulk of our emissions come from and develop a social infrastructure that eliminates them. The CRD study reveals that automobiles are the single largest source (46 per cent) of the region’s emissions. Any real solution must begin by getting cars off the road.

What we need is an electrified, expanded, high-quality public transit network that is fare-free.

Any of these changes is welcome and ultimately all are necessary but we see eliminating fares as the crucial first step that will put people in bus seats, build ridership, and so make the case for expanded service. For decades, our leaders at the regional transit commission have tried the reverse approach of improving service levels within the existing fare model and have failed to build a system that reverses automobile dependency.

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So our call is to temporarily put aside all the technological discussions about how great our transit system could be if only it was fully electrified to eliminate carbon emissions and featured amazing apps. None of that matters unless ridership dramatically increases.

For now, we even suggest parking the hope of extending service to currently neglected areas. Yes, these should be goals, but they put the cart before the horse. Demand must come first and can surge even with the existing service if we only remove fares as a regressive user fee.

Once public transit has a larger user base, dreams of an improved bus fleet and levels of service will have a natural constituency. If we want the CRD to act fast in “getting close” to meeting its emissions targets, fare-free public transit is where we have to start.

Our belief in fare-elimination as the first step in a transformative sequence is grounded in historical experience. When the University Pass was applied to every student at UVic in the 1990s, ridership increased dramatically. In fact, it was such a success with packed buses that transit had to scramble to improve service, put on more buses and thus increase frequency.

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How would we pay for fare-free transit? The short answer is by following through on the logic of our existing system, in which provincial and municipal taxes already pay around 75 per cent of the costs.

By eliminating the fare-box and topping up the difference with increased taxes, we will acknowledge that public transit depends on public funding, and end the charade that a regressive user fee that suppresses ridership is how we actually pay for it.

Instead, we would adopt a progressive funding formula, one that is based on the ability to pay through our tax system. We do not charge user fees to take elevators in buildings, walk on sidewalks, drive on roads, borrow books from libraries, put out fires or for medical services: why, especially during a climate crisis, should user fees exist for public transit?

More to the point, if we fail to address the climate crisis now, exponentially greater costs await us in the coming decade. There is no economic case against effective climate action.....

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..this piece is from dec/19. will keep an eye out for updates.

Kansas City becomes first major U.S. city to make public transit free​

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This week, Kansas City, Missouri’s City Council voted unanimously to make the city’s bus system fare-free. The plan was a priority of recently elected Mayor Quinton Lucas, whose “Zero Fare Transit” proposal was touted to increase transportation equity in the region, and endorsed by the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, which services multiple cities in Kansas and Missouri.

Bus fares are currently $1.50 per ride or $50 for a monthly pass. Kansas City’s very successful streetcar, which opened in 2016, is already free.

Many U.S. cities offer free travel on certain transit lines or within certain zones, and there are entire ski towns and college towns with free bus systems, but this is the first large U.S. city to implement a universal, systemwide fare-free scheme. Several European cities have experimented with eliminating fares, and at least one country, Luxembourg, is moving forward with a nationwide free transit plan.

In the U.S., several cities including Los AngelesSalt Lake City, and Denver have floated the idea, but haven’t put forth formalized proposals.

lagatta4

What a revolution that would be in LA! It does have a subway in some areas now.

Are you referring to Ottawa/Gatineau or some other Capital district?

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..i have concerns about the la funding. the revenue comes from car owners only. i see working people getting to and from work. gro shopping, getting kids to school..etc. corporations, factories and businesses benefit a lot but aren't part of the funding from what i understand.    

..the author is from ottawa so i believe so.

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