Free public transportation

April 21, 2008

There was an interesting article in the Toronto Star this weekend addressing easing traffic and congestion with the possibility of free public transportation.  There were some interesting points brought up:

  • Idea of user-pay driving to pay for public transit so transit riders pay less put forth by Bern Grush, who authors a transportation blog called Grush Hour.
  • Free transportation can cause an increase in vandalism and lack of respect as was seen in Austin, TX where the project was, “abandoned in part because bus drivers complained of rowdy passengers and regular transit riders were upset by overcrowding.”
  • However, maintaining a reduced-fare for public transportation still requires a collection system.  (This point is slightly less relevant in Bermuda since there are only a hand full of employees that sell tickets/passes so I don’t think this would amount to a massive expense as opposed to a city the size of Toronto).
It has been discussed over on 21 Square that the RFID readers that have been put up on every major access point to Hamilton could be used for congestion tolls. As we saw with ‘Burn Fat, Not Fuel’ Day, making public transportation free is clearly not enough to cause residents to start taking public transit instead of private vehicles – maybe congestion tolls are the answer?  As I’ve ranted on about before, free public transportation will flop with the current lack of frequency and coverage.  


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