Just seven years ago TransLink stated that their “market research” indicated that people wanted to pay when boarding the bus. But as Tania Wegwitz, senior transit planner in the Municipal Systems Program for BC Transit recently wrote: “Prepaid fares are better than cash fares, I don’t think there is anyone — passengers, municipalities, transit staff — who would disagree with you.”
I’m all for this idea in principle. Let’s raise AirCare fees and increase taxes associated with consumer vehicles to compensate. I also like London’s model of a congestion charge for entering and leaving the downtown core. I’d prefer not to punish commuters in suburbs where their transit options are limited. In short, I’ll take any reasonable option that punishes middle-class drivers and rewards transit users.
That said, I do hope Dave lays out a balanced case for and against free transit. I’d want to see a detailed, verifiable budgetary analysis of what the system costs, what savings you’d garner from eliminating fair collection, and where the money to pay for the free service would come from.
Plus I want to see more hyperlinks. Dave cites “Todd Litman of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute” who apparently says that “in 2000 the government subsidy to each private vehicle owner was about CAN $5,378.” I visited the Institute’s website and tried a few searches, but couldn’t find the applicable research.
UPDATE: Speaking of free public transport, John wrote about Dublin’s new free pedal-powered taxis. Apparently they’ll be funded through advertising? I’m not sure there’s enough money there, but what do I know? I’ll bet the best ad space would be on the back of the rider’s shirt.