Thursday, February 28, 2008

Restraint of Trade

Public transit fares are left over from the time streetcars were privately owned and operated. Today fares are a diseconomic tariff that benefits the carbon and auto industries at the expense of business in general.

Public Transit Fares:
  • slow commerce
  • hurt small business
  • promote sprawl
  • clog the streets with cars
  • add to global warming
  • increase the need for oil wars
  • and many more ... [read]

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Eloquence on Streetsblog

Streetsblog - the inimitable New York City quality-of-life symposium, posted an entry on the transportation plans of presidential candidates [pathetic stuff, as you can imagine]. The post elicited this sparkling comment:

I'll vote for whoever plans on removing all subsidies from auto based infrastructure (including Middle Eastern wars for oil resources) and then using that money to pay back the once thriving private transit industry for 70 years of lost progress due unfair government competition. Then, let a balanced transportation system rebuild itself using market forces instead of government coercion. We'll see how many people choose to not share rides when they bear the true cost private automobile mobility. Dear U.S. government, I know you know best, but the people would rather choose their preferred mode of transportation. Thx bi.

Comment by Fred Camino — February 27, 2008 @ 4:27 pm Link

Monday, February 25, 2008

USA a backward country

China goes forward... [April, 2007 - WorldWatch]

The Chinese government will provide a total of 1.3 billion yuan (US$167 million) this year to help Beijing’s bus companies reduce fares to only 1 yuan (US$0.13) per ride. Passengers and students using the “smart card,” an electronic debit card for transportation, will pay even less—only 40 cents (US$0.05) and 20 cents (US$.025), respectively, Xinhua News reports.

U.S.A. goes backward... [February 2008 APTA]

The budget request also recommends that Congress authorize the U.S. Treasury to transfer funds from the Mass Transit Account (MTA) of the Highway Trust Fund to the Highway Account to address the projected impending insolvency of the Highway Account next year. The Administration estimates that this could require a transfer of up to $3.2 billion out of the Mass Transit Account by the end of FY 2009.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

New York Press interviews Ted Kheel

...[NYC Mayor] Bloomberg told WABC radio’s John Gambling in March 2007 that “from a public policy point of view, you really should have all of your mass transit free. And then raise fines and parking fees and everything else.” During his weekly broadcast, the mayor has made the same point at least two more times, calling free mass transit “the ultimate system,” and most recently calling it “the perfect system,” on the February 1, 2008 broadcast....

...Kheel’s vision for a fare-free New York goes something like this: In a New York where subways, buses and even commuter trains are free to ride, and motorists pay for the system through congestion pricing, pedestrians would be able to get around much easier, breathe cleaner air and, as he puts it, “every working person who uses the subway would have $1,000 more a year to spend....”

...residents would be more productive because they’d spend less time inching along in traffic. Stores would do more business, since people would have more time and more money to shop with and because so many businesses are located around subway stations, there would be much more public space that would, in effect, turn New York into a walking city with wider sidewalks and public plazas. More working class and poor New Yorkers in the outer boroughs would be able to commute to work, which would increase productivity and offer them a chance to improve their financial situations and lifestyles, which would in turn improve the economy and society as a whole. And with fewer cars and trucks, and more bikers and walkers, there would be fewer auto accidents, which would lower insurance costs....

...Increased traffic congestion will soon cost the city as much as $13 billion a year. At an average of 7.9 miles per hour, New York City buses are slower than Chicago’s (9.7), Boston’s (10.5), Washington, DC’s (11.2) and Los Angeles’s (12.3). According to a study conducted by New York City Transit (part of the MTA), 133.50 million subway riders in October 2006 became 143.50 million riders in October 2007, that’s an increase of one million people per month in just a year’s time....

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Monbiot crunches the numbers

...the government has calculated the economic benefits to the United Kingdom, weighed them against the global costs of climate change and discovered that sacrificing foreigners - especially poor ones - is a sensible economic decision....

George Monbiot

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Community Transp Assoc publishes Dave Olsen

Dave Olsen, a writer internationally recognized as a leading advocate of Free Public Transit, writes in Community Transportation Magazine

...more people are taking a hard look at just how many of their tax dollars subsidize the private car versus less polluting buses and trains. You have to figure in roads, parking and other infrastructure, tax breaks for car and fuel companies, as well as subsidies for car-carrying ferries and federal income tax reductions and write-offs for companies that use motor vehicles.

By some estimates, the government subsidy to each private vehicle owner is about $3,700, while a common cost for providing a single trip by transit is about $5....

read the whole pdf...

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Biofuel benefits a hoax

These practices lead to lower crop production and ultimately deserts. Growing plants for fuel will accelerate the already unacceptable levels of topsoil erosion, soil carbon and nutrient depletion, soil compaction, water retention, water depletion, water pollution, air pollution, eutrophication, destruction of fisheries, siltation of dams and waterways, salination, loss of biodiversity, and damage to human health (Tegtmeier 2004).

Monday, February 11, 2008

FPT for 350,000 riders in Paris suburbs.

Île-de-France - March 2007 - 350,000 low-income citizens were granted free public transit. Another 700,000 disabled and students were given 75% off.

À partir du 31 mars, 150.000 allocataires franciliens du RMI et les membres de leur foyer, soit 350.000 personnes au total, vont pouvoir bénéficier de cette mesure.

read more (en français)...

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Externalities - costs not counted.... yet

The automobile and sprawl generate profits for the carbon-auto industry. But there are costs that are not being counted. These costs are "externalized" from the profit calculation, passed on to taxpayers and the future.

Some people ask "who will pay for free public transit?"... they should ask who will pay for the floods, whirlwinds, and drought to come from the free carbon dumping?

The ice is melting, yes, in winter. -- from the CalgaryHerald:

...Giant fractures have been cracking open the ice in the Beaufort Sea in recent weeks, creating extraordinary stretches of open water and giving researchers from around the world a first-hand look at the Arctic meltdown. "It's shocking to see," says David Barber, a climate specialist at the University of Manitoba...

see also - Externalities

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Benefits of the NYC Free Transit Proposal

  • Universal free transit with less crowding than today.
  • 25 percent less traffic within the Manhattan business district, and 9 percent less citywide.
  • More travel, not less, as growth in transit trips more than offsets the drop in auto trips.
  • Huge gains in recovered productivity from saving over 100 million “vehicle hours” a year that are now wasted in traffic.
  • A revenue infusion of almost half a billion dollars a year for the city’s transit system.
  • Vast new public space in the heart of the city.
  • Impressive environmental and health benefits stemming from decreased driving and increased walking and bicycling.

-- Charles Komanoff - plan team leader - from Downtown Express

"automobile trip is subsidized" ...David Kack

David Kack Says: January 25th, 2008 at 12:42 pm
I helped start two new fare-free transit systems in Montana. Streamline, in the Bozeman area, and Skyline, in the Big Sky area. You can go to or to see more info. While some in the general public think it makes no sense to give a “free ride” to someone, they need to realize that their automobile trip is subsidized. We have proved that people will ride a bus in areas that had no previous public transportation.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Over 30 years your auto costs you $1 million.

Chris Balish has written a book on how to survive without a car. He estimates that a car would cost him a million dollars over 30 years and he figures he can do better with other modes of transit. Read more on

See the list of blogs on the right for more ideas on living car-free.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

S.F. Sees shadow of carbon-auto Lobby, kills FPT

Surely few people thought that free public transit would be adopted easily. The carbon-auto lobby has the power to direct the U.S. government to illegally invade and occupy a country. It can surely stop a mayor. So when the mayor of San Francisco ordered a study of free transit, a quick cost/cost analysis was done that "discovered" that more riders would mean more costs.(!) (SFGate) So now the carbon-auto industry may safely continue pouring carbon into the air for free in San Francisco.

The study "result" gave the mayor cover to kill implementation. Don't blame him. No one person, mayor, governor, or president, can stand up to the carbon-auto lobby. We need to get involved. This means you. Take action. Join your local bus riders union. If you like this free public transit blog or the website, then spread the links around by email and blog comments.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Negatives of the private auto...

Great post from Alex Steffen at WorldChanging

...more than 3.5 million Americans now drive more than three hours a day to get to and from work, spending a month of their lives on the road each year. Meanwhile, people who live in the newer fringe-burbs are reportedly the least happiest of Americans, and the long commutes they endure are a major reason why...