Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Free public transit is affordable

When public transit is fare-free, immediate savings begin. First, the transit authority need not have expensive turnstiles and ticket machines. People who were accounting for fares may now be engaged in improving service, security, or cleanliness.

Ridership will go up. That lowers unit cost on both capital and operations.

Those are just the direct benefits. There is a long list of indirect benefits which amount to much more than the lost revenue. City parking costs are reduced. Less community money is exported out of the city for auto fuel. There are fewer collisions. There is less demand for policing auto traffic. Urban neighborhoods are more attractive with fewer cars, raising property value. There is less noise. There is less stress. Workers have more options to get to their job.

People will demand more buses. That will increase frequency. More will ride. A virtuous circle will be started -- one that cannot be stopped.

Soon the "necessary" costs of the private auto will be seen for what they are: burdensome subsidy.