Why Isn’t Public Transport Free?

February 17, 2015 in Daily Bulletin

Joe Pinker looked at the question of making public transportation free:

  • Some feel so strongly that getting around the city shouldn’t cost anything that they’ve come up with ingenious workarounds. In Sweden around 500 subway riders make a monthly $12 contribution to a common pool, cheaper than the $35 weekly pass. They then jump the turnstiles and if anybody is caught, the pooled funds pay the fine.
  • In theory public transportation is a win-win for all. It would reduce greenhouse gas emissions and alleviate traffic congestion.
  • In practice experiments with free public transit have found that it barely increases ridership – and when it does it’s usually pedestrians who take the subway rather than drivers.
  • Singapore found that free rides at non-peak hours were a good idea, since they reduced the load on the subway during periods of high congestion.
  • But proponents of free public transit note that the poor should be able to get around the city and so public transit has to be free, even if it doesn’t increase usage.

The full article looks at the experience that cities around the world have had with free public transport, and provides many other fascinating details. Read it here.

Source: The Atlantic