An article from Montreal Gazette raised again the question of free public transportation. In layman’s words, it means zero cost for the passengers. Surprisingly, this comes as, according to the article, the fares contributed with more than $630 to the 2017 budget of Société de transport de Montréal. The main argument in favor of free rides, as the article outlines, is the reduction of car pollution, an increase of the influx of tourists and the decrease of traffic congestion, in a city founded before the the invention of the personal car.
An older idea
A quick search identified a good number of cities where people would support free public transportation. A year old article suggests that college towns should embrace free ride public networks, with economic, health, and ecological benefits. The author of the article suggests that someone must pay for the transportation, but that would not be the riders. Instead, the money should come from taxation.
The Swedish solution
Where it comes to avoid paying for the ride, some people are very inventive, like the Swedes. Based on frequency of the fare controls, it is cheaper to spread the risk of paying a fine at group level, than as an individual. the The same article from the Atlantic has arguments in favor of paying for the ticket, especially when it comes to vandalism prevention. The article concludes that zero cost rides can be beneficial only in small cities.
The open debate
One step further, debatewise.org has drafted a list of arguments in favor and against free rides. All the arguments are valid. While the debate for free transportation will most likely stay open for the years to come, one thing is sure: small cities and big cities don’t face the same problems when it comes to public transportation.