Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Video report: zero-fares coming to Luxembourg




Luxembourg is about to embark on an experiment into whether offering zero-fare public transport will persuade people to leave their cars at home. In 2020, it will become the only country in the world to get rid of fares on all its forms of public transport, in a bid to tackle increasing congestion.
23 Dec 2019

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Free transit is just the beginning

Protesters jump turnstiles in the New York City subway, during a protest against police presence in the MTA on November 1, 2019. [Photos via Decolonize This Place, by Javier Alvarez.]
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.
But it’s the specific demands for free transit that knit seemingly disparate movements for climate action, anti-poverty, and prison and police abolition together into a potentially world-changing force.
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.
Technocratic transit wonks often condescend to advocates of fare-free transit, arguing that municipalities need more funding to improve service and that calls for free transit undermine that goal. Of course it’s true that transit departments need massive amounts more money – but that shouldn’t be coming from regressive fares that increasingly benefit corporate owners like SNC-Lavalin’s botched light-rail project in Ottawa. Instead, excellent transit systems can and should be fully funded by increasing taxes on rich households and corporations and rerouting current spending on roads and highways.
Such a transition will have a huge range of benefits: boosting ridership, cutting emissions, making streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists, and ensuring that everyone has the ability to travel regardless of income. It’s an exceptionally straightforward policy to implement, and can serve as a clear rebuttal to the growing trend of privatization and austerity.
Transit agencies will no longer have to worry about “fare evasion,” which has long been used to justify dystopian securitization measures. After the TTC’s alleged loss of $61 million due to fare evasion in 2018, it launched a widespread ad campaign to threaten riders with $425 fines and dozens of new fare inspectors and transit enforcement officers. Similarly, New York responded to a reported loss of $215 million last year from fare evasion by hiring 500 more Metropolitan Transportation Authority cops – costing almost $250 million over four years (that’s in addition to the over 700 existing transit police and 2,500 NYPD officers who patrol the city’s subways and buses).
Unsurprisingly, such enforcement is highly racialized: two-thirds of the MTA riders arrested for fare evasion in the second quarter of 2019 were Black, while a decade’s worth of TTC data indicated that Black transit users have been fined at a rate almost double their demographic. Transit police are increasingly profiling and detaining undocumented people on transit, leading to deportation and incarceration. While getting rid of fares doesn’t eradicate racist policing, it removes one of the main tools used to harass and detain in transit spaces.Free transit also protects transit workers. Bus drivers, especially, are forced to bear the brunt of rider anger at high fares and poor service. According to a survey conducted by the Amalgamated Transit Union of drivers, 73.6 per cent of assaults are caused by fare disputes. If we want to reduce the very threat of attack and abuse that workers face on the job, we should remove the primary source of incidents: fare disputes.
Ditching fares means that people are no longer denied transportation due to lack of money. It also means that riders can board the bus far more efficiently, not having to scan their transit pass or put a pocket full of coins in the farebox, increasing the ability for the vehicle to remain on schedule, and for riders to be able to rely on its service. Some cities have half-heartedly introduced low-income transit passes but they’re often still far too expensive or require a byzantine means-testing process. It would be far simpler just to abolish fares.
It’s not some utopian demand. Over 100 transit systems operate fare-free around the world, including much of Estonia. Dunkirk, France, became one of the largest examples, when it introduced free buses to its population of 200,000 last year. About half of riders surveyed said they were new transit users and were using it instead of driving a car, a clear indication of the policy’s power to reduce transportation emissions in a city. Such an approach can be scaled up to any level, of course, including to intercity bus service or national passenger rail.
Free transit is about much more than transit: an end to austerity, a refusal of police power, and a demand for decommodified and universal public services. We simply can’t build the world we dream of until we confront ruling class power in all its forms. As geographer Juan Correa told CityLab, people in the highly unequal country of Chile attacked the subway because companies were extracting profits from them through higher fares: “This was a moment of rage, of stating that this institution was public, but they make me pay and with a hike that is unjustified.”
Free transit is a struggle for genuinely public and democratic control of our society. Activists in Chile and New York City are showing us how to win. Let’s join them at the turnstiles today.

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James Wilt is a freelance journalist and master’s student based in Winnipeg. He has also written for The Narwhal, VICE Canada, Canadian Dimension, and the National Observer, and is working on a book about public transit. He tweets at @james_m_wilt.

Monday, November 4, 2019

The Daily Blog - NZ - calls for free public transport

Free public transport: Synchs in with environmentalism, reducing poverty & inequality. Demanding all cities have free public transport would help the poorest amongst us, demand more growth for public transport and take some of the stress out of our groaning roading system that can’t cope as it is. Major way to directly combat climate change.
https://thedailyblog.co.nz/2019/11/04/big-vision-2020-we-need-public-owned-forests-free-public-transport-time-for-a-workers-levy-legalised-cannabis-state-house-rent-to-own-solar-panels-on-all-roofs-tax-free-first-20/ 

Monday, October 7, 2019

UK Green Party wants to scrap plans for new roads, use cash for free bus travel for all


By Phoebe Weston, the Independent, 4 October 2019.

The [UK] Green party wants to scrap the Conservatives’ £6.5bn plans for new roads and will instead use the cash to fund free bus travel for all.

The proposals, which will be laid out at the annual party conference in Newport, are part of the party’s Green New Deal, which looks to shift focus from economic growth towards tackling the climate emergency and protecting nature.

Jonathan Bartley, co-leader of the Green party, says the move will slash emissions from private diesel and petrol vehicles as well as helping low-income families.

He said: “Our reliance on cars is driving up our carbon emissions – a third of the UK’s emissions come from transport.

“Road building currently generates more car journeys, creating a vicious and harmful cycle. This money would be much better spent on reducing CO2 emissions by encouraging the use of public transport as part of a Green New Deal.”

To pay for the Free Bus Fund, the party would allocate £5bn of proceeds from the Vehicle Exercise Duty (VED), which under current Tory party plans is earmarked for road building from next year. The remaining £1.5bn from the VED would be spent on maintaining major roads.

Rebecca Newsom, head of politics at Greenpeace UK, said: “With bus use declining, this proposed fund for free bus travel is exactly the sort of vision needed to make public transport a more viable option for people across the UK, helping reduce emissions at the same time.

Our government should put its money where its mouth is, instead of committing billions to policies which will increase road use and emissions and worsen the climate emergency.”

The party would also increase corporation tax to 24 per cent and spend the extra revenue on funding local authorities by £10bn a year, it says.

It claims the funding would help local authorities maintain roads and deliver more bus services, which have become 65 per cent more expensive to use over the past decade.

Air pollution is currently linked to the premature death of 40,000 Britons a year and the Free Bus Fund would also be topped up by saving from reduced health costs due to less pollution on roads, the party says.

Free bus travel would be implemented in England but not in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as this is a devolved issue.

The news comes days after the Green party also said it would ban adverts for petrol or diesel cars and flights across Europe. The move would use the same powers that enabled Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, to ban junk food adverts on the London Underground.

Deputy leader Amelia Womack said: “Excessive flying harms our health just like smoking and advertising only increases this harm. The climate emergency will cause 250,000 additional deaths year from 2030, comparable in number to deaths caused by smoking.”

The Green New Deal legislation would also look at ways to cut consumption of meat and single-use plastic.

Caroline Lucas, a former Green leader, said adopting the deal was “essential” to avoid environmental and political breakdown.

She said: “If we are to mend our broken democracy and give people hope for their future, we must invest in an economy where we live sustainably, differently and more equally.”

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

South Auckland candidate proposes free public transport trial




























Statement by Brendan Corbett:

Mangere-Otahuhu Local Board candidate Brendan Corbett proposes a six month trial period for free public transport in South Auckland, to get commuters out of cars and end daily traffic congestion. Corbett says free public transport could transform the city and be an innovative move to combat climate change.
This plan is similar to the proposal floated by the Manukau City Mayor, Sir Barry Curtis 13 years ago. 
[‘Curtis says Manukau rail spur threatened’ NZ Herald 21 February 2006: https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10369485 ]

Mayor Curtis nominated three of his city's suburbs for trials of free bus services, which transport authority chief executive Alan Thompson had indicated could prove a very useful investigative exercise. [‘Increased subsidy hits free bus trials’ NZ Herald 7 Sep, 2005 - 

A 4000 signature petition supporting a proposed free bus trial in Manukau, was presented to the Auckland Regional Transport Authority. But opposition from Auckland’s then main bus operator, the multi-national bus company StageCoach, stymied Curtis’s initiative - “a good reason why public transport should be publicly owned and operated” added Corbett.

Free public transport has successfully ended traffic chaos in many overseas cities including Estonia’s capital, Tallinn, and the French city of Dunkirk. “If they can do it, why can’t we?” asks Corbett.


Sent from my iPhone

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Christchurch Mayoral candidate’s statement



It was fantastic to see so many people out in the square today, marching for action on climate change

In Christchurch, 53% of our carbon emissions come from transportation – mainly cars and trucks 🚗

We can significantly reduce this by creating a better public transportation system, including FREE & frequent buses.

A person who switches from their car to a bus has 15x lower greenhouse gas emissions 🌱

Now before you panic — This forward-thinking idea has already been implemented in cities around the world... and it's working! There have been significant financial and environmental benefits to these schemes, so it really is a WIN/WIN.

Many of you have asked - "BUT WHO PAYS?!?"

Here in Ōtautahi, we have a dramatically imbalanced funding allocation between road development and public transportation. This NEEDS to be fixed ASAP.

Funds will be redistributed more practically between both road development & public transport so that we can invest in a more sustainable and practical future for Christchurch.

This would require negotiation with the government and ECAN but, this will be easily achievable. The policy would lead to a rethink of the hugely expensive and unsustainable roading projects currently being developed for Christchurch.

In short: there are no increased rates or other tax increases needed to implement this policy, as we will be rebalancing the allocations between road dev and public transport. It's that simple.

This really is the BEST way forward for Christchurch.

❓ What are the benefits ❓

✅ EVERYBODY benefits – even those who never use a bus or train will be able to travel In a gridlock-free roading network.

✅ More time at home instead of buried in traffic congestion.

✅ No extra charges for anyone – no rates increases, no extra fuel taxes, no congestion charges, no network charges, no toll roads, no PPPs, …

✅ Improved productivity – roading congestion costs Christchurch tens of millions in lost productivity every year.

✅ Revitalising central Christchurch as more people travel to enjoy the central city, Lyttelton and the city beaches.

✅ Savings for workers and reduced income inequality. The Mayor of Tallinn has called it the “13th monthly salary” because of estimates the policy saves a month’s salary each year for workers using free public transport.

✅ Economic stimulation as workers have significantly more to spend in the real economy.

Find out more info about this policy here 👇
https://mintoformayor.nz/2019/08/07/transport-policy-christchurch-can-become-the-dunkirk-of-the-south/

https://www.facebook.com/109449643757445/videos/748957912214577/

Innovative city award to fare-free Tallinn

Tallinn has been recognized as an innovative city in China 

By Toomas Raag, Pealinn (Estonian newspaper) 27 September 2019

The European-Chinese Green and Smart Cities Summit [took] place in Nanning, China from September 1 to September 5, where Tallinn [capital city of Estonia] was recognized as an innovative city in the category of free public transport and the launch of the Park and Travel system. 
The award was received by Tiit Terik, (pictured below) Chairman of the Tallinn City Council, who also gave a presentation on "Free public transport in Tallinn and Estonia - either an experiment or an experience".

Former French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin is one of the keynote speakers at the event, who said that smart and green solutions in the European Union and China must serve the interests of the environment and people, and that they must work together. 
 In his presentation, Tiit Terik pointed out that free public transport is a good solution for reducing passenger cars and avoiding congestion in cities. 
(abridged)

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Mayoral candidate pledges free buses to combat climate change

Christchurch mayoral candidate, John Minto says "Free Public Transport is an important part of fighting climate change - Minto for Mayor will get it going in Christchurch!"

Today Minto welcomed an important "breakthrough in the debate about free public transport":


 
#MintoforMayor
Website: www.MintoforMayor.nz
Facebook: Minto For Mayor 2019

Free public transport and more govt action called for

Dunedin's bus Hub. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery

"A lot can be done to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transport," he said yesterday.
Transport had a crucial role to play, and he urged "more promotion of public transport, with introduction of "free city transport offered by local governments, paid by ratepayers, at least as a trial exercise".
Some fare-free public transport had been offered in Auckland and he would like to see this extended and offered elsewhere.
Sir Alan is a University of Otago botanist and chairman of the Wise Response Society, a group that promotes sustainable approaches and a "wise response" to climate change challenges.
There was "no substitute for reducing emissions", rather than simply trying to capture carbon through extensive exotic tree planting, he said yesterday.
Such emission cuts required promotion, policies and regulations by central and local governments.
And cuts were vital "in effectively addressing global warming and associated climate disruption", he added.

"We believe the billion trees programme needs urgent review, particularly the use of commercial plantations of exotic conifers with their relatively short rotations.
"Permanent forests, exotic or native, would be more effective in sequestering carbon, " he said.

 - This story is part of the Otago Daily Times contribution to Covering Climate Now, an international campaign by more than 170 media organisations to draw attention to the issue of climate change ahead of a United Nations summit on September 23. To read more of our coverage, go to odt.co.nz/climate.

Submission on Zero Carbon Bill

Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill

Submission by Fare-Free NZ editor Roger Fowler (July 2019):

I support the general thrust of the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill with the strongest possible targets and serious and concerted action planning to achieve those targets.

Recommendations

I submit the following proposal as a viable action towards achieving the short term and long term robust targets of the Bill to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

1. The Government should immediately declare a nation-wide 'climate emergency' to set the country on the equivalent of a 'war footing' to mobilise maximum support for concerted planned action to combat climate change. The government needs to lead a serious response to this climate emergency and discard empty slogans and ineffective piece-meal gestures. The action has to be big and bold to produce a national mind-set turn-around needed to be successful.

2. Recognising that the proliferation of cars and chronic daily traffic congestion in our cities is already causing record vehicle emission levels and hundreds of premature deaths, plus extensive heart and acute respiratory diseases, and that the impact on the environment is rising, the Government should make urgent steps to place public transport into the hands of appropriate elected governing bodies and plan to upgrade all public transports services and infrastructure to cater for a major increase in usage, and to allow for the introduction of fare-free, quality, no-emission public transport in all the main cities. These moves will have a huge 'big and bold' impact of attracting a large bulk of people out of cars and onto quality, modern, integrated public transport and ending chronic traffic congestion - a major source of greenhouse gas emissions.

To support this submission I attach a paper I submitted to Auckland Transport's 'Big Idea' project last year:
https://farefreenz.blogspot.com/2019/06/a-big-idea-thats-too-big-forauckland.html?m=0