Urban Fold

Should Buses Be Free?

Mass demonstrations in Brazil over the past week were sparked by increases to bus fares. But what if buses were free? The Economist makes the argument that, to improve service and decrease congestion, we should study making buses and subways free.

"Fares bring in a lot of money, but they cost money to collect—6% of the MTA's budget, according to a 2007 report in New York magazine. Fare boxes and turnstiles have to be maintained; buses idle while waiting for passengers to pay up, wasting fuel; and everyone loses time," explains The Economist's Gulliver blog. One idea, floated recently by Slate blogger Matt Yglesias, would be to implement proof-of-payment systems instead. 

However, "[p]roof-of-payment systems don't solve the problem of fare-collection costs as they require inspectors and other staff to handle enforcement, paperwork and payment processing," says The Economist. "Making buses and subways free, on the other hand, would increase passenger numbers, opening up space on the streets for essential traffic and saving time by reducing road congestion."

The idea has been proposed in New York (as long ago as 1965 says The Economist), and implemented in several European cities. Is it time that free transit gets a closer examination?

Full Story: Maybe buses should be free

Comments

Build Your Own Paper Block City

Urban Fold is an all-inclusive kit that allows anyone to build the city of their dreams with a few simple folds.
$24.95
building block set

NEW! Build the world you want to see

Irresistible block set for adults when placed on a coffee table or desk, and great fun for kids.
$25
Book cover of Unsprawl

Unsprawl: Remixing Spaces as Places

Explore visionary, controversial and ultimately successful strategies for building people-centered places.
Starting at $12.95
Book cover of Insider's Guide to Careers in Urban Planning

So you want to be a planner...

Check out our behind the scenes look at 25 careers in the Urban Planning field
Starting at $14.95