Saturday, October 24, 2009

Towards a UK national campaign for free public transport

Friday, October 23, 2009

An ecosocialist MP for Blaneau Gwent?

Well there is one Member of Parliament pushing ecosocialist politics already Dai Davies, he stood as an independent and beat Labour in a by-election, excellent stuff, he is working with my friend Roy Wilkes on free public transport, I am looking forward to posting up more of his stuff.

Be great if Plaid and the Greens gave him a free run at the General Election...

In the past ten days big strides have been made towards a national campaign for free public transport.

I published a research paper some months ago making the case for the wide-scale introduction of free transport.

In areas like ours, where many of our valley communities and people find themselves isolated, the issue is very important.

If you can’t access work, shops, friends, hospitals, and other things which the better-off expect, then life can become very difficult.

The research led to various interviews including an hour-long debate on BBC radio Wales in which I called for free transport to be introduced across Wales.

A like-minded group in Greater Manchester then contacted me, and from that we have agreed to put the whole thing on a UK-wide footing.

At the heart of the UK campaign will be a major research project.

That research will be unveiled at a Conference next March in the House of Commons.

The aim is to get communities, organisations, trades unions, and others involved from all over the UK.

I’ve been asked to lead the campaign, and will chair that inaugural conference of the National Campaign for Free Public Transport for all.

The vice-chair is Roy Wilkes, who has chaired the campaign for free public transport in Greater Manchester.

The aim will be to produce a fully-costed and rigorous evidence-based case, which will address such issues as the social benefits (especially for less well-off communities).

It will also spell out the costs of the present over-dependence on cars, lorries, and profit-making buses and trains – in terms of the environment, pollution, transport gridlock, Co2 emissions, and other issues.

The overall aim is a fully integrated, publicly owned, and free at the point of use system.

This is an issue which every one of us needs to take seriously. Britain is grinding to a halt, we are churning-out climate-threatening levels of co2, many of our most deprived people and areas are isolated and unable to access vital services.

When people ask us ‘can we afford it’, my answer is it could cost us the earth of we don’t take action on this.

The aim of the national campaign is to put that case to everyone in Britain.

From blogsite of UK green activist, and former principal speaker of the Green Party of England & Wales, Derek Wall:

Friday, October 23, 2009

The cost of not having free public transit

We have tried to list all the externalities of the private auto and sprawl. But the list keeps growing and growing. People ask, "can we afford to have free public transit"? The answer is "we can no longer afford not to have it". In the article quoted below fromClimateProgress they show how NRC counts more externalized costs.
...The report estimates dollar values for several major components of these costs. The damages the committee was able to quantify were an estimated $120 billion in the U.S. in 2005, a number that reflects primarily health damages from air pollution associated with electricity generation and motor vehicle transportation. The figure does not include damages from climate change, harm to ecosystems, effects of some air pollutants such as mercury, and risks to national security, which the report examines but does not monetize... NationalResearchCouncil via ClimateProgress

Banks Fuel Climate Crisis

BAD BANKS leaflet #3: 'Their Pollution Market Stinks!'

Bad Banks leaflet #3 is available now. It addresses the link between global banking power and the ecological crisis, specifically focusing on the banking class's prosposed "solution" to climate change, pollution markets (or as they're calling them, emission trading schemes).

This leaflet has contributions on the back page from David Parker (writer for, Mike Treen (Unite Union National Director), Omar Hamed (Unite Union organiser & Rainforest Action co-ordinator), and Roger Fowler (editor of

Thursday, October 22, 2009

"Car-based economy is simply not sustainable"

Laid-off auto workers can work on public transit

...Public transport creates 25% more jobs than the same investment in building roads or highways. At a meeting of the Policy Board of the International Association of Public Transport (UITP) hosted by De Lijn from 13 to 16 October 2009 in Ghent, Belgium, worldwide leaders of the public transport sector called on governments to invest in the public transport sector. Carfree Blogosphere

Monday, October 19, 2009

Free public transport advocate wins seat

[SamWainwright.jpg]Socialist Alliance WA co-convenor Sam Wainwright was elected from the Hilton Ward to the Fremantle Council in the October 17 poll. Wainwright was the candidate with the most votes, polling over 33% of the vote.

A socialist, unionist and community activist, Wainwright advocates for "free and expanded public transport" and for council to "fight climate change", workers' rights, and open spaces for all, and rates based on ability to pay.

For more details of Wainwright's campaign, visit:

From GreenLeft Weekly 17 Oct 2009.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

We're on Indymedia's 'Best Blog' list:

New Zealand has a new blogsite promoting free and frequent public transport, it's called Fare-Free New Zealand. Go to The editors welcome any NZ or international stories relating to the campaign for fare-free public transport. Send to The call for free public transport is being made internationally by environmentalists, campaigners against climate change, Green parties, and eco-socialists. It's a campaign focus that makes lots of ecological, economic and political sense. And it's a grassroots response to the threat of climate change that challenges the pro-market illogic of the pollution market (otherwise known as carbon or emissions trading).

Friday, October 16, 2009

Message from Sweden: Action on Climate Change

Blog Action Day: Use the tools at your disposal! torsdag 15 oktober 2009

This blog post is written in English as a part of the Blog Action Day on climate change.

Today the web will probably be flooded with blog posts about how green technology will save us from the horrors of climate change. Some posts will be constructive and original, but a lot of them will probably just be deterministic and overly optimistic. As a contrast to this, we at would like to put the spotlight on what could be done today with political reforms that we have the tools and knowledge to implement. Such as a politically driven change of our infrastructure and simple green tax-switching policies.

In Stockholm and Sweden, we currently have politicians who plan to expand our large road network even more and constantly raises the fares on climate-smart means of getting around such as public transport. At the same time as they are doing this they are not willing to take responsibility for the ever-increasing car-traffic. Our politicians will not acknowledge that there are political reasons behind the fact that car-traffic is taking (and will do so even more according to current projections) market shares from public transport. Instead they blame it on the constantly growing demand for car-traffic, as if supply and demand only had a one-way relation.

More roads and more expensive public transport equals more car-traffic on the expense of public transportation; an equation so easy that even a five year old would understand it.

The transport sector is one of the biggest climate scoundrels in Sweden, accounting for around 40 percent of our greenhouse gas emissions, in other words: it is one of the most urgent sectors to make climate-smart.

We in believe that the key to radically decrease the emissions from the transport sector lies within our cities, partly because they are hosts of most of the traffic and partly because their population density provides a good framework for easy and relatively cheap climate adjustments.

In September 2009 we released the report Travel doesn’t have to cost the earth, where we present five concrete measures to make the transport sector in Stockholm climate-smart. This whole package of reforms are built on the idea that we do not have the time to sit around and wait for the green technology to save us, rather the opposite: we need to act now, and we need to do it with the tools that are currently at our disposal.

The five measures we present in Travel doesn’t have to cost the earth are:

  • Transport-saving social planning
  • Major investments in rail-carried public transport
  • Stop on all road expansions
  • Car-free city centre
  • Fare-free public transport

The fact that we can not know what kind of green technology solutions that will be available in the future is a very obvious one. But considering that blind trust in technology development is the dominant position in the climate debate, it is still worth repeating. On the other hand, one thing that we do know for sure is: changes in the infrastructure as well as simple green tax-switching are effective policies that are available to us today.

So, instead of wishful thinking and naive believe in technology we promote measures that will lead to concrete results – i.e. a reduction of the greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector – and can be carried out with nothing else but the power of political will.

Read more:


Tuesday, October 13, 2009


No such thing as green cars

By now, it should be obvious that private automobiles are environmentally unsustainable. Yet many people still cling to the fantasy of “Green Cars”. Such people tend to focus only on alternative fuels and the emissions that come out of a car’s tail pipe. They ignore the fact that half the greenhouse gas and pollution a car will emit during its lifetime is created in its manufacture and disposal …and in the manufacture and maintenance of the roads on which it travels. The plastics in a car’s body, interior and tires, the steel in its frame, the lubricants it uses, and the asphalt and concrete it drives on all require petroleum to manufacture and maintain. Andy Singer on CarfreeNetwork


Kirsten@Nexyoo said...

This is a good reminder that we're a long way from a sustainable car. I do think in theory it's possible that cars (and buses, and trains, etc) could eventually be made with renewable energy, and materials recycled in a closed loop. For now, I agree that the best option for the environment is to stay car-free, if possible.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Lock out news: NZ Bus rejects free rides

NZ Herald

NZ Bus rejects free rides

4:00AM Sunday Oct 11, 2009

New Zealand Bus has rejected an offer by bus drivers to take Auckland children to school for free when the new term starts tomorrow.

The drivers have been locked out since Thursday morning after issuing a work-to-rule notice in support of their long-running pay dispute.

The four unions, representing about 900 drivers, offered to carry children to school for free to ease disruption on the roads when the new school term starts.

But NZ Bus said it was up to the unions to withdraw their threat of industrial action before it was ready to lift the lockout.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

"Bully-boy tactics"

Matt McCarten: Bus lockout a cynical move by bosses
Sunday Oct 11, 2009 NZ Herald

Aren't the ads by Auckland's private bus companies patronising?

They pay their advertising agencies to air expensive ads which inform us they have locked out their workers and taken buses off the road, because they apparently care about the safety of their passengers.

The truth is, it's a bully-boy tactic used by bus driver bosses to enforce their will on their employees.

It is breathtakingly cynical to use 80,000 commuters as a tool to deliberately whip up the emotions of frustrated passengers to intimidate bus drivers into settling their employment contract on the owners' terms.

The employers are clumsily trying to pretend to us that they have offered their drivers a generous 10 per cent wage increase. The fine print is that the offer is based on a three-year deal, with an approximate yearly increase of 3 per cent.

Many of us might have been persuaded this was a reasonable offer until we learned these drivers are paid between $14 and $17 an hour, with almost no other benefits.

Almost all drivers are required to work a split shift.

This means they are away from home from early in the morning until late in the evening, with several hours of unpaid time in the middle of the day.

If they go home during this time, they must travel from home to work and back twice in one day. Most of them have to wait in their smoko rooms until they are required to restart their shift. These drivers are away from home for at least 14 hours a day for eight hours' pay.

A show of hands at meetings reveals that a majority of these bus drivers receive Family Support or an accommodation allowance to supplement their wages. These low wages are paid by bus owners who receive $88 million of direct subsidies from taxpayers.

That means the taxpayer forks out millions of dollars so the bus owners can make a profit, then the taxpayer forks out millions more directly to the workers because the bus owners don't pay them a living wage.

Yet given the recent strengthening of the New Zealand dollar and the declining cost of diesel, the profits made by these bus companies are huge.

The drivers have been negotiating for a new employment contract for five months. The workers rightly believe their employers making money should pay them a living wage so they can raise their families with some dignity.

The fact that drivers can be paid only $1.50 an hour more than a 16-year-old flipping hamburgers is a disgrace.

The drivers have done everything that they can to avoid inconvenience to the passengers. They have not taken strike action but instead, to send a message to their employers, decided that they would merely follow the employers' safety rules.

I thought employees were required to follow company policy. But it seems that, while the company rules state that drivers are not allowed to drive any bus that is unsafe or without emergency radios, they are frequently pressured to do so.

As a result, if there is an assault on the bus, drivers have no emergency radio to call for help. In addition, they invariably have to exceed the speed limit to maintain travel schedules.

We have an absurd Alice in Wonderland situation where bus owners claim that as a safety concern they have locked out their workers from their jobs - and passengers off the buses - because drivers have said they will follow company policy.

Surely there must be legal penalties against employers who penalise workers for abiding by their company's safety rules?

But then we know that these bus owners don't care about the taxpayer who gives them millions of free dollars, nor their workers, nor the travelling public.

It is about greed and so they will do whatever they like to keep profiting off the public.

Wouldn't it be great if the transport policy for the new Supercity included an integrated, publicly-owned transport system, free of these unethical profiteers who suck on the public teat?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Are we there yet?


Free public transport: "An idea whose time has come."

In the early 1980s, the Greater London Council under Ken Livingston slashed fares and began to move towards free public transport. The policy was backed by 71 per cent of Londoners, but was destroyed by the Thatcher government and the Law Lords, backed by the car, haulage and oil industries.
Within a year, ticket prices in London had doubled, car journeys had rocketed and there was an extra 6000 accidents on the city’s roads. A similar policy in South Yorkshire under David Blunkett was similarly torpedoed.
That was before global warming and the dangers of greenhouse gases became widely accepted by scientists. Twenty years on, our towns and cities are heading towards permanent gridlock and scientists are pressing the panic buttons. And the idea of free public transport is starting to make a comeback. Read more

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Perth's free public transport scheme a huge success

The Liberal-National Government’s introduction of free off-peak public transport for seniors and aged and disability pensioners has been a huge success.

Member for the South Metropolitan Region, the Hon. Nick Goiran said the outstanding success of the policy, introduced on April 4, and the smooth way in which it had been taken up by eligible commuters, had resulted in both the recipients of the scheme and general travelling public gaining immeasurable benefits.

“Free public transport represents a social good, by which the State Government is repaying those in our community who have paid their taxes and contributed so much for so long,” Mr Goiran said.

“It is clear that this innovative and sound policy has also resulted in a win for other metropolitan commuters who, as a result of its success, now have access to a less- congested public transport system at peak periods.”

Transport Minister, Simon O’Brien said that Transperth data comparing passenger details from the week before the free travel was introduced with a typical week in May, showed a 74 per cent increase in seniors travel in the free-travel period, 9am and 3.30pm, predominantly by bus.

“In context, this means that in the pre-scheme sample period, only 34,713 seniors travelled between 9am and 3.30pm. However, in the post-introduction sample period, that number reached 60,647. The difference (25,934) is a reflection of the popularity of this policy,” he said.

Full Support for Auckland Bus Drivers

Fare-free New Zealand endorses the message of full support for the combined unions struggle for decent wages and conditions for Auckland's bus drivers & fellow workers, which was forwarded by RAM (Residents Action Movement) yesterday.

Public transport needs to be in public hands, with wages and conditions to match the high level of responsibility the drivers face each day. Not run for private profit with low wages and lock-outs.

Keep it public; make it fare-free, fast, frequent and reliable.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

'GreenLeft Weekly' (Australia) article

How do we fix public transport?

Graham Matthews
20 September 2009

The problem is obvious to anyone who uses public transport — in Sydney or any other major city in Australia. Public transport networks, designed in the 1940s, are straining to service growing cities.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Earth Overshoot Day

Earth Overshoot Day marks an unfortunate milestone: the day when humanity begins living beyond its ecological means. Beyond that day, we move into the ecological equivalent of deficit spending, utilizing resources at a rate faster than what the planet can regenerate in a calendar year. GlobaFootprintNetwork
The human race is using up the resources necessary for its own survival. This is bad enough. But worse, most of that use is just waste. So-- wouldn't it be nice if there were a low-tech, immediately available, practical, politically palatable way to reduce waste? It just so happens that there is. Take the fares off urban public transportation. This will gradually eliminate the private auto and at the same time make efficient urban living more pleasant. You should join us and become a free public transport advocate.