Free Fares and land values (Public transport should be free)
In partial response to Dave Wetzel’s short note under this heading this morning, this is to let you know that we have in fact decided to take a whack at this under a future New Mobility Advisory/Briefs, and in the process have initiated a discussion and a bibliography effort which you will find in the New Mobility Advisory/Briefs site at http://www.newmobilitybriefs.org. To get there please click Briefs Work Pad on the left menu and you will see what we have assembled thus far.
Of course if the system is not going to be fare based, it’s going to have to be paid in some other way. And I am sure that you have some interesting thoughts on that. So this is to invite you over to the New Mobility Café (you’ll see it as the Idea Factory on the Briefs site), which I hope will be of interest to you. And vice versa.
I attach a note from just this morning in which I have tried to shed some light on how I see this playing out. This is to my mind a marvelous, trenchant and timely issue for anyone who cares about value capture and more creative ways of organizing our economies.
From: Eric Britton [mailto:eric.britton@...]
Sent: Friday, August 18, 2006 8:52 AM
To: 'NewMobilityCafe@yahoogroups.com'; 'Sustran-discuss@...'
Subject: Public transport should be free
There are now going on two hundred New Mobility measures and actions which we have thus far identified with your help for treatment under the New Mobility Advisory/Briefs and while we are already committed to the Carsharing City Strategies and BRT for the first two numbers, the topic of precisely “Public transport should be free” has over these last days has moved up toward the head of the list for the planned four first year editions. I mention this to you this morning since it will, as with just about everything done here, be very much a collaborative endeavor and is one that just possibly may interest you..
However our approach in this particular case will be a bit different from our usual starting point and method, which is to provide an informed expert view based on leading edge international experience and knowledge to provide an informed but neutral appraisal of the measure, so as to inform city government and local leaders so that they can make a wise decision as to eventual next steps. And then to get them started in this proves.
In “Public transport should be free” we intend to turn this around a bit. We shall take the title as a positive statement, a challenge and our leading premise -- and then investigate and analyze whether in fact this may or may not make any sense for 21st century cities under duress. And if so, how.
I might note that just about all the analyses in the past (see Barbara Post’s biblio of yesterday by way of first example) have started out well in the box of the existing institutional and financial situation as far as public transport provision is concerned – and then variously to wiggle it a bit to see what, within this quite constraining box, would be likely to happen if the city tried to do just that. With the results that it should not be terribly difficult to anticipate in advance. And since you are well installed in that box, not surprising that the conclusion is inevitably either (a) it won’t work (here and then come the long list of reasons and justifications) or, at times, (b) we might give it a try on this bit of the system (specific routes, hours, user groups).
But since we are dealing here with the politics of transportation and problem-solving in a heavily charged and troublesome environment, it seems that the least we can do is step beyond that traditional box and start by setting out the fundamental considerations that in truth set the stage, a bit along the lines that Dave Wetzel has done in his yesterday’s email to the group. What is it that we want behind all this? How important are those objectives to the community? What are the (full) means at our disposal (and we are not talking about fare boxes or balancing micro-budgets here)? Etc.
So the goal of this future New Mobility Advisory will be to take it from the top. And we very much hope that you will be interested to participate. With your idea, and perhaps even to join our little editorial group that will be keeping an eye on all this to ensure its quality and professionalism.
PS. And if anyone wishes to drag in the tired finger-pointing language of left or right, socialist or whatever to simplify and eventually ridicule these important considerations, they will I promise lose a start. And you know how that can hurt. Measured mentions of sustainable development and social justice, and better economics for all, will on the other hand certainly have their place here.