Thursday, February 24, 2011


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Traffic: Analysis shows 7.4 per cent of heart attacks were down to air pollution

AIR pollution causes more heart attacks than alcohol, drugs or physical exertion, according to a new study.

Despite the popular belief that eating and drinking are the worst triggers, travelling by car or bus are greater culprits.

Analysis shows 7.4 per cent of heart attacks were down to air pollution.

This was higher than the 6.2 per cent caused by physical exertion and the five per cent caused by both alcohol and coffee.

The study, published in The Lancet, shows that air pollution triggers more heart attacks than even anger and lung infections.

The authors say their findings are important as many people are not aware pollution plays a role in heart attacks.

The research was led by Dr Tim Nawrot from Hasselt University, Belgium.

He said that, of the “triggers” studied, taking cocaine was most likely to cause a heart attack in an individual – but traffic affected more of the population as many more people are exposed to it than take the drug. 23/02/2011

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Starving people to feed cars

Food Prices: Crisis Deepens as Biofuels Consume More Crops - Yahoo! News:

"In America, 40% of the corn crop is currently diverted to make fuel for cars. 'Ethanol uses 4.9 billion bushels of corn in the U.S.,' says Lester Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute, an environmental think tank. 'That's enough grain to feed 350 million people.'"

Click on subheading to read the rest of this article. Ed

Monday, February 21, 2011

Wifi on public transport if Labor elected

WIFI will be free for commuters if the Labor Party is re-elected next month.

It will be available on a bus, ferry or train for commuters to check their emails, read the news or do their banking.

The free wifi will be installed by the end of 2011 on all metrobuses and Sydney Ferries, with the rest of the bus fleet and CityRail trains to follow.

The Government has also announced that by the end of this month, all Sydney Buses commuters will be able to send a text message and receive up-to-the-minute information about when their next bus will arrive.

If is re-elected, the Labor Party will extend the next bus SMS service to every bus in the metropolitan network, including private operators.

What a great idea! Yes, there needs to be an all-out effort to make public transport user-friendly and attract the bulk of commuters - including:
  • free Wifi connections,
  • space for wheel chairs, push chairs, shopping & even bikes
  • comfortable seating
  • on-board 'ambassadors' to offer directions, assistance & to deter anti-social behaviour,
  • priority lanes & traffic signals for buses
  • more bike & walking facilities
  • easy transfers & links
  • colour coded routes & vehicles
  • very frequent services
  • 24 hour operation
  • passenger shelters that actually protect people from the elements
  • modern no-emission buses & electric trains & trams & ferries
.... the list goes on - but the central ingredient to really get commuters onto decent public transport & slash car-dependency, pollution & oil consumption big time: make it free to use and frequent with easy access - no waiting, no tickets, no money handling, no cash box robberies, no parking woes, no traffic gridlock, reduce road accidents & resulting medical treatment... modern, civilised stress-free mobility for people.

FareFreeNZ Editor

Greenhouse emissions to double unless action taken

Greenhouse emissions to double unless action taken: "GREENHOUSE gas emissions are escalating so rapidly they will double between 2005 and 2030 if nothing is done to stem their growth."
12 Feb 2011

Friday, February 18, 2011

Humans flirting with point of no return for biosphere

In 5 years the Amazon has experienced 2 extremely severe droughts. (Earth Week)
Living on Earth: Amazon Forest as a Source of Carbon Dioxide: "In recent years there's been a distinct lack of rain in the Amazon rainforest. 'The drought of the century' is what they called the first in 2005, but the second, just 5 years later, was even worse. The forest is drying and the trees are dying, destroying the vast region's ability to absorb carbon from the atmosphere. University of Leeds researcher Oliver Phillips says instead of acting as a carbon sink, the Amazon forest is becoming a huge source of climate changing gases."

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Let's get free

Combating climate change and peak oil with free public transport

We are standing at a crossroad: in order to reduce our oil dependency and to make our cities climate smart, we have to change our ways of getting around. It is a fact that the future is on track, and with free public transport everyone can come along for the ride.

So far, the local transport sector has been sadly neglected in the climate debate. Even though the inflation in car traffic is one of our biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions and unnecessary oil use, few cities have any serious plans to radically decrease their car traffic.

With just a marginal tax-raise (in Stockholm, capital of Sweden, all commuters who earns less than 5000 Euros a month would benefit from this), the public transport system could be made free at the point of entry. This would lead to a decline in car-traffic and a surge in the demand for public transportation, which in turn would stimulate a much needed capacity and comfort increase in the public transport system.

In cities where a free system has been introduced, such as Hasselt in Belgium, Ockelbo in Sweden and Changning in China, there has been an extraordinarily increase in passengers as well as a large decrease in car-traffic – rendering some investments in new roads unnecessary. With the car industry crisis in mind – an expansion of the public transport system would also be beneficial because it would create green jobs in a manufacturing industry with a future.

As Irwin Kellner, chief economist at MarketWatch, puts it: the introduction of free public transport in the cities of America would be a win-win solution!

For more information, please read our report Travel doesn't have to cost the earth.

From Free Public Transport [Sweden] Feb 2011


MarketWatch – Mass-transit systems taking wrong turn{7D3B4CEB-8C3A-4D5F-83FD-D26CA33FA5F9}

Kheel-Komanoff — A Transition to Free Transit

Externalities by Automobiles and Fare-Free Transit in Germany — A Paradigm Shift?

Free bus initiative: the solution to Redland transport problems?

Profile image for Laura_Local

By Laura_Local | Sunday, January 09, 2011, Redland People

We recently looked at parking problems in Redland and I hinted at a potential solution in improved public transport. I then stumbled across a link to theFree Bus initiative on the Sustainable Redland website - something which could transform public transport in Bristol.

Basically, it is a non-profit organisation which asks those who can to become members or donate but which aims to provide free travel for all. The scheme looks set to start with one simple route around the centre from Temple Meads to Broadmead and the Hippodrome but if this goes well, will expand to include more routes further afield to places like Redland.

A spokesman for Free Bus said: "Bristol City Council subsidises the bus network for £4.7 million per year, whilst entirely free public transport in Hasselt, Belgium, costs £4.2 million per year. The cost of a fully loaded short-hop bus journey is 23p per passenger."

When you think about the £2 or £3 fares you currently pay for a bus journey in the city and the profits they must be making you wonder why we haven't aleady pursued this Free Bus initiative.

Free Bus is very open with it's running costs on its website and says it needs £25,000 to be able to run the initial route for six months. It is already collecting pledges from potential members and hopes to be up and running in April.

We've been held t ransom for too long by the First Group, be it on the buses or the trains. They appear to be able to charge whatever they want for a sub standard service so it was with great excitement that I read about this initiative which has the potential to change the face of public transport in Bristol for the better.

And once we have decent, affordable (in this instance free) public transport there is no reason to sit in rush hour traffic in your car, wasting petrol and polluting the air. You can simply join others on the Free Bus whizzing to town in the bus lane.

Of course, better still - put your best foot forward and walk or hop on your bike but that comes with its own risks!

Good, cheap transit reduces traffic congestion

 Good, cheap transit reduces traffic congestion
Why isn’t transit free? After all, roads are completely free for everyone to use, yet most paved surface space is dedicated to private car usage. Since cars take up more space and are far more polluting than public transit, doesn’t it make sense to charge drivers more and transit users less?
A city in Europe has proved that not only can free public transit work, it can do great things for a city and even reduce traffic and congestion.

There are several benefits to providing free public transit. In 1997 the town of Hasselt, Belgium eliminated all fares to its bus system, immediately increasing passenger growth by 428% and, by 2006, an astounding 1300%. What else happened?
  • Hasselt saved an enormous amount of money by not having to build extra roads and parking spaces
  • the safety of transit operators improved since they no longer had to deal with irate passengers over fare payments
  • increased accessibility attracted the development of more businesses, resulting in the city lowering its taxes!
  • Hasselt now experiences nearly zero traffic congestion
The idea of providing at least some transit free-of charge is not new. In fact, public transit in the downtown section of the notoriously socialist city of Calgary is provided free-of-charge.
Rethinking the Issue
In Toronto, $980 million of the transit system’s $1.4 billion budget comes from the farebox. That means that even though their taxes have already paid for it, Toronto transit riders still have to pay 70% of the total cost of running Canada’s largest transit system.
Imagine the uproar if drivers had to pay 70% of road maintenance costs each day before they left their driveway?
It’s a difficult conversation to have. But experience shows that making transit better and more affordable is the only way to reduce congestion.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Free Bus Ride For UNO Students
University of Nebraska at Omaha students will be offered a free bus ride. The idea is to help fight overcrowding in the schools' parking lots.
Posted: 10:43 AM Feb 7, 2011
Reporter: WOWT
Email Address:
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Free public transport for tertiary students would be a good step towards cutting traffic congestion and parking problems in the cities here in New Zealand...and, who knows? - there's a chance the concept may catch on. Editor, FarefreeNZ.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Fare-free weekend buses in Tasmania

Tasmanian transport minister launches fare-free weekend bus services to "reduce traffic & parking congestion" and to "encourage people to use public transport" for "enormous long-term environmental and road safety benefits for the community." GREAT! ....but aren't these valid and compelling reasons to make it free everyday?

Editor, FareFreeNZ

Fare Free Weekend on the Buses

Metro is offering free travel on its buses on the weekend commencing February 12.

Launching Metro’s “Have a Weekend on us” campaign today, the Minister for Sustainable Transport and Alternative Energy, Nick McKim, said the fare free weekend aimed to encourage more people to use public transport.
Mr McKim said by offering a weekend of free travel on regular services and routes, Metro was giving Tasmanians a chance to experience bus travel.
He said the free service would also reduce traffic and parking congestion on what was one of the busiest weekends of the year.
“This particular weekend is packed with major events and travelling on Metro buses provides a safe, convenient and enjoyable alternative to taking your own car,” Mr McKim said.
Events over the weekend include Festivale in Launceston, the Hobart Regatta, Hobart Cup, the Wooden Boat Festival and a Sheffield Shield cricket match at Bellerive Oval.
Metro Chief Executive Officer Heather Haselgrove said the “Have a Weekend on Us” campaign sought to encourage people who did not generally ride on buses to consider switching to Metro for future travel.
“Our aim is to increase public transport patronage in Tasmania and the fare free weekend gives people, especially those who haven’t ridden a bus in many years, the opportunity to see what it is like,” Ms Haselgrove said.
“We’re encouraging people to use buses not just to go to and from major events on this weekend, but to use regular services between other destinations – to see family and friends, go to the beach, go to shopping centres and so on.
“We believe that by showing people how easy and convenient it is, they will be more likely to see buses as a sensible alternative for daily commuting.”
Mr McKim said increasing the use of public transport had enormous long-term environmental and road safety benefits for the community and in the long-run would save people money.
The availability of the free fare services varies from region to region. In Hobart where there is a public holiday on Monday 14 February, it includes Saturday, Sunday and Monday; in Launceston the free services operate Saturday and Sunday and in Burnie the free services will run on Saturday.
For people attending Festivale on the evening of Friday 11 February, there will be free bus services on major routes from City Park (Cimitiere St before Tamar St) from 11.05pm to get people home from the event.

Tasmanian government media release: 3 February 2011
Nick McKim MP
Minister for Sustainable Transport & Alternative Energy.

Campaign to Save the Auckland to Northland Rail Line

Please forward this message, from Save the Auckland to Northland Rail Line campaign, on to others who may be concerned. FareFreeNZ Editor

Kia ora !
To join a broad network of people working to save Northland's railways, to offer your skills, knowledge or time, or just to be kept informed of what's happening, please send an e-mail to :
and sign up to Save the Auckland to Northland Rail Line ( on Facebook )

To learn more,go to the web-site :
and read the Local Matters Newspaper article : Railway campaigners mobilise to save northern line (2nd February, 2011)
If you know someone who's likely to want to get involved but who doesn't use the internet, please give them my number.
Our input into this will be crucial in deciding the best way forward for Northland's future.

Thanks !
Contact: Alan Preston ( a campaign co-ordinator )
Mangawhai Village, Northland , New Zealand
tel: (09) 431 5389
mob/txt: 02102377242

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A new fare-free service announced for South West Sydney - a great start! ...but to have a real impact on combatting traffic gridlock, this needs to be expanded to cover the whole city at all hours.

Free Shuttle Buses in Liverpool City Centre

Free Shuttle Buses in Liverpool City Centre
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by StreetCorner Staff

The State Government will be operating free daily shuttle services in Liverpool City Centre as of Monday 31 January 2011.

The new buses will be provided in line with the NSW Government’s $50.2 billion Metropolitan Transport Plan and signifies a $1 million investment in free public transport, on top of more than $3.4 million already invested in free shuttle buses in Sydney and Wollongong.

Coloured a distinctive green in order to make them easily identifiable, the new buses provide families and shoppers with more public transport links between key destinations such as train stations, shopping centres, hospitals and other community hubs. Each bus is air conditioned and low to the floor – providing easy to use public transport for parents with prams, the elderly and people with disabilities.

The free ‘999’ Liverpool Shuttle will make travel around the Liverpool city centre faster and simpler, and will run as a continuous one way loop connecting locations including Liverpool Station, Liverpool Hospital, Liverpool CBD Library, medical centres, Westfield and the post office.

Services will operate during the following times:

+ Monday to Friday between 9am and 2.30pm, every 20 minutes.

+ Saturday and Sunday between 9am to 5.45pm, every 20 minutes.

While the free bus service is considered a positive step in improving transport options available in Liverpool, the bus operates outside of peak hours and as such does not serve the needs of commuters and school children and is mainly targeted at shoppers.


Oregon city buses go fare-free

Corvallis public transportation goes fareless

Rides will be free on Feb. 1 as new taxpayer transit operation fee covers the cost of Corvallis Transit System, Beaver Bus

Colin Bowyer 2/1/11

On Feb. 1, users of the Corvallis Transit System and the Beaver Bus will no longer have to pay a fare.

The Corvallis Public Works Department announced earlier this month that because of a reallocation of taxpayer funds to the new Transit Operations Fee, voted on by the City Council, passengers will be able to ride for free.

Originally, the city's general fund, from property taxes, provided for transit costs. Now with the Transit Operations Fee in place, that money from the general fund can be put toward the library, parks and other social services, according to Transit Coordinator Tim Bates.

Unfortunately, the Philomath Connection, Linn-Benton Loop and the 99 Express will still charge a fee because they are not owned and operated under the City of Corvallis.

Because the Beaver Bus is 30 percent funded by the City of Corvallis and 70 percent funded by the students, that will also be free of charge.

The Corvallis Transit System services an average of 2,280 people a day and stretches out to a majority of the Corvallis neighborhoods and the Hewlett-Packard facility on the North side of town.

Bates is optimistic about the change.

"I hope that it gets new riders on the busses," Bates said. "I would hope that people that ride it now will continue to ride it and bring in more people who don't ride it now."

Additionally, CTS riders with monthly passes containing an expiration date past Jan. 31 will be refunded their money.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Canada political candidate advocates removing fares from public transport

Larsen as premier would let you ride transit for free

Dana Larsen, long time activist, founding editor of Cannabis Culture Magazine, announces that he is running for the leadership of the New Democratic Party, on Dec. 29.

Photograph by: Glenn Baglo, PNG

Dana Larsen wants you to ride the SkyTrain for free.
Larsen, who’s running for the leadership of the New Democratic Party, floated the free-ride concept Monday, comparing the SkyTrain line to the highway system.
“As premier, I would designate the SkyTrain as part of B.C.’s highway system, and then get rid of fares for users,” said Larsen. “We don’t charge a tariff to use the road, and we shouldn’t charge a tariff to use the SkyTrain.”
While cutting fares for SkyTrain would put a giant hole in the transit budget – 2010 TransLink estimates for SkyTrain fares collected are $155 million - Larsen maintains it’s similar to the subsidy now enjoyed by drivers.
“BC spends hundreds of millions of dollars subsidizing a free road system for car drivers, meanwhile SkyTrain has a fare, and a lot of that money is spent on the fare-collection system,” said Larsen.
“Why should we selectively subsidize car travel, but not SkyTrain?
“We don’t have a toll on our roads – why should we have a toll on the SkyTrain?”
Larsen credits, in part, the research of environmental consultant Dave Olsen, who has studied free transit services as far away as Hasselt, Belgium and as close as Whidbey Island, just south of the border in Washington state.
“We’re paying people to drive, but we’re not paying them people to take transit,” said Olsen, who has a masters in environmental studies from York University. “A simple way is to make transit fare-free.”
Olsen said transit police on SkyTrain cost $13 million per year, and the government is spending millions to install barriers at SkyTrain stations and on advertising campaigns to get people to take transit.
“Instead, they can just stop charging fares,” said Olsen. “In Hasselt, transit ridership went up 1200 per cent when they made it fare-free.”
While Larsen is considered a long shot to become NDP leader – let alone premier – he’s happy that his idea has started a fresh debate on fares.
“I see a lot of discussion on the Internet – people are Tweeting about it,” he said.
“People are really interested in this.”

'Make ALL public transport frequent & free' say Aussie candidates


Monday January 31, 2011 - Local state election candidates for the Socialist Alliance have welcomed the news that passenger numbers on the free CBD shuttle bus are increasing. They have repeated calls to expand the shuttle service to other areas in NSW and to make all public transport frequent and free.

Paola Harvey, Socialist Alliance candidate for Keira, said: 'The news that nearly 5 million passengers have used the free shuttle service really vindicates our position that if you make public transport frequent and free, people will make the switch. The CBD shuttle initiative has been a wonderful departure from Labor's decades long neglect of our public transport system, particularly our rail.

'Dramatically improving public transport would give people the option of leaving the car at home. It's a socially just response to the chronic problems of traffic congestion, lack of parking and lack of mobility faced by poorer sections of the community. It would also reduce greenhouse-gas emissions from the transport sector, which contribute roughly 14% of Australia's total emissions', Harvey said.

Jess Moore, long-time public transport campaigner and Socialist Alliance candidate for the Legislative Council, said: 'We campaigned for frequent and free public transport during the 2007 NSW election campaign. Given the social and environmental benefits of public transport use, all public transport in NSW should be made frequent and free.

'In the Begian city of Hasselt, within a year of introducing free and frequent public transport, patronage increased by 870%. And their government found they saved money overall, given subsequent savings on health, road maintenance and construction, and also on ticketing.

'We stand for publicly owned public transport, not public handouts to private companies. The current Wollongong CBD shuttle service is publicly funded but privately run. This reduces the number of public sector jobs, and needlessly complicates planning, especially across an entire state.

'Any income generated from the public transport system should immediately be directed back into the system, not into private pockets.' Moore concluded.