Canadian publication The Tyee has put forward a case for why giving public transport away free would work. You may be thinking, that’s ludicrous, we’d end up paying for it in our taxes, and what’s the difference. Think about this, if there were no charge for public transport, there would also be significant savings. No fare evaders to chase, no tickets to print, fewer staff required.
The environmental benefits of free public transport are numerous:
- reducing greenhouse gas emissions
- reducing other air pollutants
- reducing noise pollution (especially with trams)
- reducing run-off of toxic chemicals into fresh water supplies and ocean environments
- reducing overall consumption of oil and petrol/diesel
- reducing litter (train/bus tickets)
- saving trees by eliminating the need to print tickets
Read these and the other 17 reasons (or more) to stop charging people to use the bus, or the tube, or trams. (via The Good Human)
Other people who think that free public transport is a good idea:
A free public transport success story
It is 10 years since Belgium got worldwide media attention for a very ambitious project: free public transport in Hasselt. From the start until today, it remains a success story.
The new city council of 1995 realised that public transport was a major problem. There were only eight city buses and two lines in Hasselt before 1 July 1997, which covered about 500,000 km a year and only transported 360,000 passengers in 1996. After the renovation of the ring road around the city, turning it into a pedestrian-friendly and tree-clad ‘Groene Boulevard’, the city council presented an ambitious project to transport company De Lijn. With the words ‘Hasselt zal nooit meer hetzelfde zijn’ (‘Hasselt will never be the same’), the former mayor and later minister Steve Stevaert launched free buses on 1 July 1997.
The project was an instant success. Until 30 June 1997, there were an average of 1,000 bus passengers a day in Hasselt. Today, the average is 12,600 passengers a day. There are now 46 city buses on nine lines, including a boulevard shuttle and a city centre shuttle. Two nightlines run at night. Altogether, these city buses cover 2,258,638 km in a year. All this benefits mobility in Hasselt.
Will we ever have free public transport in the UK?
What do you think? Not anytime soon. It would take considerable campaigning (or a new government) for this to happen. There are definite environmental benefits to offering free public transport, but until governments realise that global warming is something we need to do something about as a matter of urgency, their egos and concerns over re-election will remain a barrier to positive change.