Free transport is a nice way of encouraging people to leave their cars at home – or even better, don’t buy a car.
City-governer Edgar Savisaar believes that this solution will help reduce the growing number of cars, pollution and accidents in the city. It was, however, not his decision. Rather did the whole city of Tallinn decide to go green. In a referendum held last week 75% of the voters agreed on the new solution.
Across Europe this has created a conversation on the pros and cons of free transport. The critiques fear that the costs cannot be met by the local governments and that it could possibly not boost the use of public transport as much as expected. Others, however, fear contrarily that it might have an impact on the car industry. As far as the budget concern goes, there are definitely alternative solutions. “This includes earmarking certain areas where entry of personal vehicles is by a fee and levy of a green tax.”, the Hindu writes and explains that in return you get: “various benefits for the residents such as better air quality, lesser congestion and reduction in fuel consumption, a significant shift to public transit, fewer traffic accidents and increased access to work places for the poor.”
Finally, the article adds another important point: “Subsidising public transport is fair, experts say, because personalised transport already receives hidden subsidies through investment on flyovers and broader roads, and free parking.”
Cities which offer some free transport include Sydney, Sheffield (UK), Hasselt (Belgium) and many small cities in France and Sweden. Find the full list here.
Freepublictransport.com is advocating that we finally include transport in our climate debate. “We are standing at a crossroad: in order to reduce our oil dependency and to make our cities climate smart, we have to change our ways of getting around. It is a fact that the future is on track, and with free public transport everyone can come along for the ride.”