How Free Fares Could Benefit Bus Drivers

Free transit would reduce boarding times and improve working conditions for bus drivers, the 'frontline workers' responsible for fare collection and enforcement.

September 14, 2021, 12:00 PM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

New York MTA Bus

Sorbis / Shutterstock

As the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) launches a fare-free pilot program on Boston's heavily used Route 28 bus, "Abdallah Fayyad urges city and MBTA officials to study not only the effect of free fares on ridership but also their effect on the bus drivers." Sandy Smith reports on Fayyad's essay, in which he argues that eliminating fares would also benefit bus drivers, "the frontline workers responsible for collecting fares and enforcing fare policy."

Bus drivers routinely "face both verbal and physical abuse from riders when they do discourage fare evasion," and "even if violence never occurs, the competing pressures of time and policy enforcement lead to arbitrary and capricious application of policy." In 2008, "a New York City bus driver was fatally stabbed over an unpaid fare." Meanwhile, "punishment for fare evasion falls disproportionately on the shoulders of Black and brown passengers." 

According to Fayyad, "free public transit would create more equitable cities and increase people’s mobility. And beyond the benefits to residents and commuters, a fare-free transit system would undoubtedly improve working conditions for bus drivers."

Wednesday, September 8, 2021 in NextCity


What We Really Mean When We Say Gentrification

The focus on gentrifying communities has, in many cases, eclipsed the similar problems facing more stagnant neighborhoods.

September 14, 2021 - Vox

Brooklyn Redevelopment

Study: Market-Rate Development Filters Into Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing

New research sheds new light on one of the most hotly debated questions in planning and development.

September 15, 2021 - Full Stack Economics

Rendering of aerial view of Telosa city

Why Tech-Utopian City Plans Fail

Like others before him, e-commerce billionaire Marc Lore wants to build the ideal city from scratch. Urban experts don't have much faith in his chances.

September 9, 2021 - Bloomberg BusinessWeek

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.