Sunday, March 8, 2020

Cost #freepublictransport would be 4% of cost of roads

To put $19m [fares] into context, here’s the cost of some of the other significant transport investments wither considered or made recently.

Thursday, February 20, 2020


'Do we care about the public?': Cities weigh free public transit amid rising costs
Progressive lawmakers across the U.S. say mobility is a human right and want their residents to be able to freely move around their cities, no matter their income.
 
Commuters at the North Station T station in Boston wait as an Orange Line train pulls in on Bill Greene / Boston Globe via Getty Images
By Ben Kesslen and Ludwig Hurtado, NBC News, 18 February 2020
Michelle Wu, a City Council member in Boston, wants everyone to ride for free on subways and buses that crisscross the region.
Wu says the city is experiencing a "transportation crisis" as ridership declines, rush-hour traffic rises and the infrastructure of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority continues to crumble.
The transportation authority needs salvation and money for repairs, commuters and local transit advocates say, but instead of raising fares beyond the $2.90 it costs now if you pay for a subway ride in cash, Wu thinks a solution may lie in dropping fares altogether.
Her position is shared by other progressive lawmakers across the country who say mobility is a human right, like health care and education, and think residents should be able to freely move around their cities, no matter their income brackets. They propose eliminating fares on city buses, light rail and trains to achieve their vision of universal mobility. But some experts warn that free rides wouldn't solve the issues besetting many public transit systems, including crumbling infrastructure, infrequent and unreliable service, and routes that take workers nowhere near their jobs.
Kansas City, Missouri, could become the first major city to eliminate bus fares in June under a proposal in the budget the City Council is expected to approve by the end of March.
Mayor Quinton Lucas said scrapping the $1.50 bus fare would be a windfall for working-class families that spend a good part of their incomes on transportation, and he believes it would benefit the city's economy, allowing people to move around more easily and patronize local businesses.
"Making transit free makes more job opportunities accessible for more people," Lucas said. "We're a car-based city, so if you don't have a car or bus fare, you don't get to where you need to be."
The city would lose $8 million a year on fare-free transit, but Lucas insisted that it would not be "a significant amount" of Kansas City's $1.7 billion budget. By not paying for maintaining and using a fare collection system, the city would save about $3 million a year, leaving Kansas City officials to come up with only $5 million to cover losses, Lucas said.
He said critics rarely ask where the money comes from for other projects, like the hundreds of millions of dollars spent each year on building and maintaining streets or the $325 million to renovate Arrowhead Stadium, where the Kansas City Chiefs play.
"That costs us and local government tens of millions of dollars a year," he said. "So I think the real question people have to ask is 'Do we care about the public?'"
Robbie Makinen, CEO of the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, said public transit is the glue that holds a community together.
"The return on investment for social justice, compassion and empathy far outweighs the return on investment for asphalt and concrete," he said.
The Kansas City transit authority partnered with the Center for Economic Information at the University of Missouri-Kansas City to analyze the economic impact of the proposed zero-fare policy. The study found that free transit would increase Kansas City's regional gross domestic product by more than $13 million a year and improve the livelihoods of regular riders along with new riders encouraged to try public transit without the fare barrier.
"For those living paycheck to paycheck, as most Americans are, even an additional $50 (the cost of a monthly bus pass) per month of income can make the difference in deciding which bills to pay," the study said.
Kansas City has embarked on similar but smaller experiments before. In 2017, it made transit free for veterans and the next year for ninth- to 12th-graders in four major school districts.
While advocates have championed the move, they say fare-free policies aren't enough if transit isn't accessible.
Comparing 100 metropolitan areas of similar size to Kansas City, a 2011 report from the Brookings Institution found that Kansas City's transit system was among the 10 worst at connecting workers to their jobs, with only 18 percent of jobs in the metropolitan region accessible to job seekers by commutes of less than 90 minutes.
For that reason, city leaders should not look at eliminating fares as a "panacea" for transit problems, said Hayley Richardson, a spokeswoman for TransitCenter, a nonprofit group based in New York City that works to improve public transit around the country.
"A bus that comes once an hour that's free isn't useful to people," Richardson said. "The way we make transit useful to people is by making it come frequently and reliable."

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/