Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Which should come first, #freetransit or better service

Some are arguing that fares cannot be removed because bus service will be overburdened, so we must achieve better service first and attract riders that way.

This is a recipe for failure for several reasons:
  • Autosprawl generates profits. Sprawl means that each home has its own set of tools, toys, and appliances. These profits are threatened by public transit.
  • The auto and sprawl system (#autosprawl) has critical mass. Car costs are seen as necessary and buses are seen as an extra expense.
  • The forces behind autos and sprawl are very strong. They even get governments to invade countries to secure sources of oil. 
In every community there is a marginal amount of people for whom the bus is a close option. Fare-free buses would immediately attract them. This would start a process where more riders mean that buses have more political backers. Only then can service improve.

Here is a list of locations that have fare-free public transit. In most cases ridership increased, sometimes dramatically, and in many cases service was subsequently expanded.