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WHY WE CALL FOR FREE PUBLIC TRANSPORT
Many people have asked us why we are campaigning for free public transport, rather than something like low cost, or cheaper and/or more efficient public transport. This is an important point. There is a critical difference.
If you have ever used public transport, and especially a bus, you will recognise the difference right away. You have to wait for everyone to pay as they get on the bus.
You can't easily jump on and off a bus if you decide go on an errand.
You can of course buy a weekly or monthly pass, but you may still have to wait in line to show it to the driver.
Indeed, such are the delays caused in boarding as a result of fare collection that in the US, the Chicago Transport Authority is going to spend $25 million on a computer system to try and tackle the problem.
For the economists there are also many other reasons.
Having a fare, any fare, requires a basic fixed cost of collecting the fare. That is why many of the successful examples of free public transport are small rural transit systems. They found the cost of collecting fares too high a fixed cost in percentage terms.
The 'fixed cost' being represented in the cost of cashiers, book-keepers and accountants, and for the printing of tickets and passes, and so on. Also the cost of selling tickets and passes and collecting fares. All the people involved in those things could be working on cleaning, vehicle maintenance, security or even driving the buses.
Large transit systems actually have more fixed, fare-related costs, but they often put them in another accounting bucket, namely security. Do you see all those stainless steel turnstyles on the London Underground for example and all the caging and fencing to prevent fare avoidance. They cost a bundle.
With free transit, more people will ride. It is a proven fact (it's even intuitive). It will also be more convenient and easier on the employees and more economical for the operation.