Can Free Fares Save Public Transit?

With 100 percent subsidies, transit agencies could drop the pretense of being businesses and serve many more people -- or so proponents say. Agencies aren't so sure.
November 24, 2009, 11am PST | Josh Stephens
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"Just as websites have attracted millions of users by offering services for free and public schools have long waived tuitions in favor of the ability to offer guaranteed universal education, some contend that by opening up turnstiles and getting rid of the farebox, transit agencies could serve legions of new riders for whom the typical fare presents just enough of a financial or psychic barrier to keep them in their cars."

"Proponents argue that free transit's ability to remove cars from the road and therefore decrease congestion, curb pollution and foster more livable cities would more than justify the added burden on public coffers. It would even reduce insurance claims, since cars that stay in garages don't get into accidents. Olsen also argues that fare-free transit would save money because it would eliminate what he considers an unacceptably costly infrastructure to collect fares."

Thanks to Josh Stephens

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Published on Monday, November 16, 2009 in InTransition Magazine
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