Free Public Transport: Good or Bad?


Louis Masonick, Week 14

Anything that’s free is good, right? In a world run by money where everything has monetary value, something that’s free is easily taken advantage of by everyone alike. Recently, Paris made public transportation free, but for a limited time. They also banned vehicles on the road to curb pollution. On some days even numbered license plates were banned and on the other days odd numbered license plates were banned. Cars that are caught disobeying the rule will be fined, but only a small amount. Because of the free public transport, Paris is losing $4.3 million dollars a day in revenue.

So, is this a good or bad thing? Surprisingly, many studies have already been done on giving citizens free public transport. In the 1970s, Rome tried making public transport free, but many Romans couldn’t be bothered and many assumed it was a trick. Several cities in the United States around the same time period tried as well, but only young people without many took the opportunity. In both cases, government revenue was lost.

It might be possible to make public transport free, but there needs to be steps taken before its successful. The problem with making public transport free as of now, is that it attracts the wrong crowd. It attracts those without money and criminals who vandalize. The key is to create transport that is attractive to those with money or those with cars. Public transport is only seen as a benefit when the user can get from one place to another either faster or cheaper than if they were driving a car. Not to mention that the government already subsidizes much of the public transportation system, making it already quite affordable. Pollution may be a problem, but the bigger problem is a loss of money.

Source: Paris makes public transport free

Source: Why can’t public transit be free?


One comment

  1. joypeterson1

    Week 14 Post:

    In cities where there is a dense population such as China or Paris and where car space is limited due to pedestrians, free transportation is needed in order to balance the transportation deficit. However, the United States has areas of dense and scarce population so creating a free or reduced transportation would only be needed in very populated cities.

    I think it is important for cities to provide public transportation, but like you said, here in Minneapolis the light rail attracts the wrong crowd. They offer it cheaply and that makes it affordable for low-income passengers. However, there is a train system called the NorthStar that runs to from Minneapolis to Big Lake that is designed specifically for to bring in people who live far out from the city. It is a double-Decker train with outlets for charging phones, desks for getting work done, and free wifi on board. It is almost triple the cost of the Minneapolis light rail but provides better services and attracts the working individual who lives outside the city a cheaper alternative to work. I believe in order to have a successful and safe inner city transportation system it must be either a little bit more expensive or the government needs to spend more money on the security and safety of passengers on a cheaper or free form of transportation.

    I think finding a balance based on location is important for governments to take into consideration when considering how to manage and create safe and efficient public transportation.

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