Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Free Ride?

with 4 comments

Translink P3355 Braid Stn New Westminster 2007 1220

If you produce a free paper to give away to transit riders, it is probably a good idea to have a big front page splash of a story that has “a member of the premier’s influential climate-action team ‘advocating for free public transit'”

Problem is that it is not much of a story. Naomi Devine is a student at UVic – and thinks that UPass should be available to everybody. There is no analysis of this idea, just Maurine Karagianis “having concerns”.

I think it would be worthwhile to look at how much Translink depends on fares – just look at their recent proposals to hike fares next year and every other year thereafter. And how short of cash for more transit they claim to be – despite sitting on a pile of it. And, of course, Kevin’s plan to deny any fuel tax increase that is not matched by fare increases and property tax increases.

That means if you give up fares you need to replace them with some other source of revenue. And while the feds and the province also are sitting on budget surpluses that does not mean they are even willing to consider a steady commitment to pay for transit operating costs.

But also we need to look at what else you could do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Certainly getting more people to use transit is probably going to be a better solution than many others – as APTA has found. But free fares don’t get many people out of cars. Better transit service, on the other hand, does. And if you took the view that we should get a big cash infusion for transit from senior governments, I think that at long last providing adequate transit service across the region would get you more new riders than eliminating fares – which would also cut your ability to run better services.

Hopefully this is the sort of analysis that will be done by, or for, the “climate action team”.

Written by Stephen Rees

December 20, 2007 at 4:09 pm

Posted in transit

Tagged with ,

4 Responses

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  1. Congratulations! VancouverIAM.com has chosen this blog article as one of the top articles in Vancouver for December 21, 2007. The VancouverIAM Daily Blog Review can be found on NowPublic.com

    VancouverIAM

    December 21, 2007 at 2:18 pm

  2. Yes my “bus buddy” said something to the effect of “don’t get your hopes up” before handing me the article. What a letdown. It’s even worse than the North Shore News front-page photos that have a short caption with no follow-up article.

    Erika

    December 29, 2007 at 1:45 am

  3. […] . Though it was a bit of a surprise that Frank Buckholz thought our fares were a bargain. But this idea keeps coming […]

  4. […] idea has been around for a while – you will find earlier refutations on this blog […]


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