Monday, November 25, 2019

Should Seattle-area passengers ride public transit for free?

Advocates in Seattle have called for eliminating the $2.75 fare for King County Metro buses and the $2.25 to $3.25 fares for Sound Transit light rail.
Those calls grew louder after Sound Transit data showed black passengers get cited and punished disproportionately for evading fares compared to other racial groups. Sound Transit is reviewing its fare-enforcement policies. (You can share your fare-enforcement experiences with Traffic Lab at
In 2013, the Estonian capital of Tallinn, with a population of 400,000, made its transit system free. Paris began researching a free-transit plan last year.
The Chapel Hill Transit agency in North Carolina has been fare-free since 2002, and the idea has been floated in Denver and Salt Lake City. In Washington’s Thurston County, officials at Intercity Transit have also proposed to make bus rides free starting Jan. 1. 

Wow! Kansas City Mayor spills the beans on subsidy and racism!

Quinton Lucas: A few years ago in Kansas City, we brought back our streetcar system. It’s a short route that runs into downtown. We made all rides free. The area where the streetcar is is a higher-income, majority white, gentrified area. That started the talk of why are we subsidizing free rides to people making good money, but the clientele on the bus system in the largely black parts of town are still forced to pay?

...Lucas: Fares cover about $8 million a year, but we lose $1.5 million in collecting fares. The shortfall is about $6 million, and we can find that in the budget. The streetcar took $2 million from buses to [get the project started]. It was necessary startup funding in 2014, but in 2019 and 2020 it’s not.

The other step is improving how we spend money to stimulate economic development. After the recession, national firms came to us and said we’ll invest in downtown, but in exchange we need real guarantees and asked us to subsidize parking-garage costs. [In the last 10 years] taxpayers spent about $100 million subsidizing parking garages for these companies. 
...Lucas: We’ve crunched the numbers. Finding a few million in a large city budget is not that hard. We can wax poetic about fairness and equity in workforce opportunity, but there’s nothing more clear to me than saying, “Let’s help people, for many of whom $2,000 will make a world of difference.” 

Tacoma, WA, high schools - #freetransit

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Bus service in Thurston County, WA, decides that #freeischeaper

One year after voters approved a sales tax increase to fund major changes at Thurston County’s public transportation agency, officials at Intercity Transit are proposing to stop collecting fares and make bus rides free starting Jan. 1. 
The change would apply to bus service and Dial-A-Lift, a door-to-door service for people with disabilities. Fares now range from $0.50 to $3 depending on who is riding and where they are going. 
Those fares net less than 2 percent of IT’s operating revenue. Meanwhile, IT’s fare collection boxes need to be replaced. The agency says it looked at switching to a card-based payment system but most cost at least $1 million to introduce. 

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Street Roots editorial: Time to explore fare-free public transit in Portland

Street Roots vendor Mark Rodriguez, who has an Honored Citizen pass for TriMet, was fined $175 because he forgot to tap his card before he got on a MAX train. He showed his receipt for Honored Citizen card but was still fined. Mark said he’s going to fight the ticket. It means time and emotional labor he cannot afford. (Street Roots photo) 
Mobility is everything. The ability to get from point A to B means getting to a job, securing food, and accessing education, health care or assistance in any form. In a larger sense, it means the vibrancy of a community and the fulfillment of commerce. It is a fundamental element of a successful region like the Portland metro area.
And it’s time for us to explore what it would mean to have a fareless public transit system.
This proposition has major implications – economic, social and environmental – for riders and nonriders alike, which should be considered when deciding the future course of our region’s mobility.

First and foremost, we have to stop thinking of it as a radical idea. It’s not.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Oil industry wants to make public transit as unpleasant as possible