Monday, March 26, 2018

Free Transit Resource Page

The struggle for free transit and against car culture is critically important in this era where the fight against climate change and inequality are coming so sharply into focus.

As a recent piece from The Scottish Socialist Party (republished in Canada's Socialist Project Bullet) noted, there are a number of reason free transit is an idea whose time has come. While these points reference Scotland the UK they apply more broadly and, indeed, globally:
  • Free fares would be the biggest single pro-environment policy enacted by any national government anywhere on the planet, dramatically slashing car use and CO2 emissions.
  • Free fares would be the biggest anti-poverty, pro-social inclusion policy enacted in Scotland, or anywhere else in the UK. It is mainly people on low incomes who rely on public transport
  • Free fares would cut the number of road accidents, reducing human suffering and relieving pressure on the NHS and the emergency services. The Scottish Executive estimates that road accidents cost £1.4-billion a year to the Scottish economy. (On an average day in Scotland there is one fatal road accident; another 8-10 involving serious injury; and 250-300 minor accidents. The vast majority involve cars.)
  • Free fares would be help to reduce the levels of asthma and other respiratory illnesses, which have risen steeply in line with the expansion of road traffic
  • Free fares would potentially increase the spending power of over a million workers by between £40 and £100 a month, boosting the overall economy.
  • Free fares would increase business efficiency and productivity: the CBI estimates that traffic congestion costs business across Britain between £15 and £20-billion a year.
  • Free fares would be a major tourist attraction, bringing hundreds of millions of pounds into the Scottish economy every year from increased visitor numbers. An increase in tourism of just 20 per cent would bring an extra £1-billion into the Scottish economy.
  • Free fares would attract worldwide support, especially from the global environmental movement, and would bring pressure to bear on governments throughout Europe and the wider world to adopt a similar policy.
  • Free fares would reduce Scotland’s reliance on depleting oil reserves; 67 per cent of all oil produced globally is used for transport.
This page offers links to articles about and resources in favour of free transit.

It is an evolving page and document, so if you have articles/links that you think should be shared here please send them to or post them in the comments.

Free Transit Resources and Links

Free transit: Three reasons it is an idea whose time has come:

On January 1, 2013, Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, became the largest city in the world to make mass transit free for its residents. While the effects of having done this are, of course, specific to the context of the city itself, it has shown that a major city can do it and that it has been widely popular with its residents. It has also focused attention on a growing international movement of groups, activists and parties who feel that free mass transit in major urban areas is an important social and environmental goal to be worked towards in the near future.

"Presentations by:
  • Kamilla Pietrzyk of the Greater Toronto Workers' Assembly's Free and Accessible Transit Campaign
  • Ward 6 Socialist city council candidate Michael Laxer, who is campaigning for Free Transit

Topics of discussion included:

  • Is fare free transit possible in Toronto?
  • What would be the social benefits of such a transit policy?
  • How would free transit benefit the suburbs and Etobicoke?
  • What can we learn from the free transit experiment in Tallinn, Estonia?"

Solidarity Ottawa has launched a campaign to get Ottawa to join the more than 100 cities around the world that offer free public transit. The experience of those cities shows that eliminating fares drastically increases ridership, which leads to expanded service and improved quality of service. The jump in the number of riders also cuts down on one of the largest sources of greenhouse gases: cars.

“Car nation” Germany has surprised neighbours with a radical proposal to reduce road traffic by making public transport free, as Berlin scrambles to meet EU air pollution targets and avoid big fines.

The Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) is a proud advocate of a world-class, fare-free public transport system for Scotland.

Public transit is a public good. The city and the province should consider something more substantial than a little discount for selected suburban riders. Let’s get serious about investing in mobility. How about making the TTC free on Sundays? Or after 7 p.m.? Or…all the time?

With an aging, dwindling population, and polluted air, something needed to change in Dunkirk, France. So when Patrice Vergriete became mayor of the post-industrial city by the sea in 2014, he promised to make public transportation totally free.

Epochal crises allow us to see clearly the irrationalities of capitalism, notably its systematic inability to develop to the fullest human capacities and provide the basis for sustainable and respectful relationships to the rest of nature. The current world economic crisis has thrown to the dustbin of history the aspirations and capacities of millions of human beings – those laid off, driven off the land or relegated to permanent precariousness. At the same time, the crisis has intensified the exploitation of those still connected to gainful employment and driven up, at least temporarily, the ecologically destructive extraction of ‘resources,’ particularly in the global South and the peripheral areas of the global North.

TTC fare fallacies -- Neoliberal delusions in transit costing:

The start of the 2018 election season is nearing and fanciful neoliberal narratives about transit fares and the TTC are in full swing.

If we do not change now, and if we do not take action, however hard and initially unpopular with some, the planet will ultimately force us to anyway. Then it will be too late, and making it more affordable for someone to drive, by themselves, wherever and whenever they want will seem a supremely misguided fantasy of a terribly decadent past.

At times it seems that while generally claiming to believe that climate change is an existential threat that we must confront, many social democrats appear to be totally unwilling to accept the reality of what kind of steps need to be taken to do something about it.

1 comment:

  1. Understanding the coming major disruption in transportation, and the end of individual car ownership should play a major role in strategies for achieving free transit in our cities. Fleets of autonomous vehicles operating on the basis of 'transportation as a service' will be providing 95% of passenger miles in the United States by 2030. I found reading this research paper to be critical for understanding the inevitability of this rapid change:
    What is not discussed in any detail in this report, is the possibility of municipalities of owning the A-EV fleets, and integrating them into public transportation systems. Municipalities need to act now to ensure that fleets of autonomous vehicles are not monopolized by for-profit companies. Billions of dollars are being invested by a range of tech companies and auto industry players jockeying to develop and dominate this coming change, but they are not yet moving in a serious way to establish the legislative framework for their control. Toronto City Council could introduce legislation now protecting the public sphere in this developing technology.