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Why Free Public Transport is a BAD idea? Your comments invited

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  • eric britton
    From World Streets today: http://worldstreets.wordpress.com/2010/07/07/why-free-public-transport-is-a- bad-idea/ Comments invited here and direct to article as
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 9, 2010
      From World Streets today:

      Comments invited here and direct to article as above

      We invite you to share this article with your sources and lists - in the
      hope of getting some strong arguments AGAINST this concept. (More to

      Why Free Public Transport is a BAD idea?

      Posted on
      -bad-idea/> 7 July 2010 by The Editor

      There are a number of proponents around the world for the idea that public
      transport should be free. And if we here at World Streets have some thoughts
      of our own on the subject, we also think it is always very important to
      check out both sides of the issues. Just below, you will find four short
      statements setting out arguments against FPT, and we are interested in
      hearing from our readers and colleagues around the world both (a) their
      comments on these criticisms and (b) yet other critical views. In later
      issues we will look at this from more positive sides, but with the intention
      of developing a range of views and recommendations on this important topic.
      Today however, we want to hear from you about the downside. Let's have a
      look at what we have thus far:

      The fact that most public transport is not "zero-fare" is evidence that
      there are arguments against this policy option. Some of these arguments

      * Fairness. Some people's transport needs may not be well-served by the
      public transport network, and yet they (as tax-payers) are forced to
      contribute to the cost of the service. At least in ideal economic models,
      user-pays systems lead to the most efficient allocation of scarce resources.
      Could the cost of paying for the public transport be better spent elsewhere?

      * Financial sustainability. Any extension or improvement to the public
      transport service must be fully funded from the public purse: being free, it
      cannot recover part of its cost from increased farebox revenue. As patronage
      on the system increases, so does the cost of provision. This may create
      resistance to measures to improve public transport or promote public
      transport use.

      * Crowding. Fares can be used to moderate demand. If cheaper fares are
      available off-peak, then people with more flexibility have an incentive to
      travel at off-peak times. This results in more effective use of limited
      resources. (Demand management is also used in telecommunications and energy
      markets.) It could be anticipated that a free service would be particularly
      crowded at peak times.

      * Impact on car industry. Greater public transport means that people use
      fewer cars; as a result, car manufacturers and service providers (e.g.
      mechanics, gas stations, etc.) can go out of business.

      Source of the above: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_public_transport

      # # #

      Thank you for pitching in on this side of the debate. Of course we are also
      interested to hear from you with other comments and suggestions on this
      important transport policy issue. (See
      -stay-tuned/ for an earlier World Streets article on this topic. Also:

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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