Friday, September 13, 2013

How to implement free public transit in a U.S. city of 1 million

First announce that the bus fares will be gradually reduced to zero. If a monthly bus pass already exists, you could announce that it will be $1 less each month, and other passes and tokens somewhat proportionally. This will give you time to respond to demand.

Free public transit will save your city much more than it costs. Much of the savings will be things like reductions in traffic congestion, medical cost of collisions, noise, costs of pedestrian safety, etc. Also much less of citizens' money will be exported for gasoline, and cars. These savings will not show directly on the city budget. Where your city already collects data on such things, make the savings public to win and keep support for the free bus program. For example, if the average delivery truck can make 10 deliveries in the time it used to make 8, this should be publicized.

There are however, quite a few things that are directly on the city books. Parking is a big one. Gradually reduce the parking allowances for city departments. City employees, especially high-profile ones, would have to gradually pay more of their official parking out of their departmental budgets. Of course, they have the option to avail themselves of the cheaper and cheaper buses and save money.

Gradually reduce your parking department. It is nothing but a hidden tax on business anyway. Move the budget money to buses.

Police and fire costs. Road traffic collisions absorb a lot of time and energy of police and fire services. As this goes down, move the money to pay for more buses.

After buses have been at zero fare for a while, you should make them free to all, no fare box at all. This will promote tourism and eliminate the costs of collecting fares.