This is because only residents of the city can use public transport for free. So thousands of people, who have lived there already, but were not registered as residents, now declared their residency to access free public transport—and started paying their taxes there too.
Here in Austria, Vienna also has some incentitives for students to officiall change their main residence.
If the citizen (as you say) is deciding between paying taxes or buying transit tickets on a monetary basis, he or she will choose the cheapest option, and the city will lose out on revenue. On a purely financial basis making this the citizen's choice cannot be a win-win for the citizen and the city.
Besides the above argument, it is also unlikely that there is any possibility of net revenue to the city. Even if a few people irrationally decide to pay more taxes than they were paying in transit fares, and hence generate some revenue, there are presumably only a small minority of the population who make this decision. But these additional tax revenues have to cover not just what these citizens were spending on their own transit passes, but also the loss in revenue to the city from everyone else in the city not paying for transit anymore.
Certainly, it is likely that free public transport enhances the economy and generates revenue in other ways, but it does not add up in the way you have presented it.
Free public transportation is incentivizing these people to register where they actually live. They aren't paying more in taxes, they've just registered as official residents of the city, so their taxes are counted as being paid in the city.
So this is a net positive for the city (but not for the country as a whole I guess).
I guess to the point of Berlin, do municipal taxes work the Estonian way or the North American way in Germany?
>"Das Ländersteueraufkommen stieg im Haushaltsjahr 2016 gegenüber dem Vorjahr erneut deutlich um 9,9 % auf 22,3 Mrd."
Only 22 billion of the 600 billion euros are collected at the regional level, about half of it is spent by regional administration. Given that OP was asking about the former and specifically avoidance, how the money is spend doesn't seem that relevant.
For example, these are the top and bottom municipalities. This is just the county + municipality take of the income tax:
It accomplishes a ton:
* It gets people who cannot afford regular fares to use these services when appropriate, rather than what might be less desirable (having a friend drive them around if they are too poor, etc).
* It gets people using services they might not use otherwise. A lot of commuters would take the train once or twice just because its free. If you can get people started on using public transit, they might just keep using it.
* You can also give away free rides during low density hours, such as at night. This can help offset daytime load by getting people to do their time-flexible commutes at off hours.
Now there are a lot of tweaks on the model, like making free rides only eligible for non-peak hours. But the whole point of public transit is to increase the efficiency of people and business in the economy where it is built - it is never meant to turn a profit, and if it is profitable it is probably failing on that first premise by costing so much to use. Making it completely free all the time makes it rife for abuse unless you institute a system where riders who ride the most get the least priority. But honestly if anyone were willing to implement such a system making the transit free and just using the tax revenue of booming business to pay for the transit is a much more sensible model than trying to keep your transit system revenue neutral or even cash positive (cough, Amtrak).
Even SF Muni which is heavily used has only a 22% farebox recovery ratio.
It's only in above ground systems where you have to have people watch against fare-beaters. But even then the tickets are mostly electronic and self-serve.
And in many areas of the USA, I doubt removing fares will push demand past capacity -- it's not the $100 - $200 month in fares that keeps most people in a car that may cost them $700/month or more. 
Especially the WWII bomb thing is annoying, because they tend to find one every few weeks when there's construction near the tracks.
However, if the transit system is already at capacity at peak time, then it would need to be restricted to off peak (in lieu of building more services), as the ticketing is acting as demand management rather than revenue collection.
What is interesting is that most public transit obeys the same congestion rules as roads - if you take a congested road system and add more roads, you often just end up with more cars on the roads at the same times congesting the new roads again because of all the offset load that uses transit at off hours due to congestion. For people on the roads, they are effectively "free" to use once you have the car, but people still actively decide to drive at off hours to avoid congestion. The same happens with any transit system regardless of cost - unsurprisingly, people don't want to be stuck in traffic.
It’s not exactly the same idea, just a similarity from where I’m living.
Why do they not mention the large amount of cities where free public transit is working just fine (most notably Estonian capitol Tallinn)?
Prices are useful in that they provide a price signal that regulates demand. If you make the price zero, people will start using it for trips that they wouldn't really need to use public transport for, because why put in the effort to walk or bike when the transit is free? The spike in ridership will force an increase in frequency, making transit even more convenient for walkers and bikers, creating a cycle of having to cater to bottomless free demand.
As far as attracting drivers goes, transit is in many cases already much cheaper than driving. Price is not the main issue keeping drivers on the roads.
Guangzhou tried free transit to reduce pollution and had to stop because it caused severe overcrowding issues. http://humantransit.org/2010/11/guangzhou-abandons-free-fare...
This argument doesn't hold because it already applies to all time-based passes. I have a year pass, so the marginal cost of any particular tram ride is zero. When I'm walking along a road that also happens to have a tram line, I may hop on the tram for a stop if one happens to be coming at the right moment, even if I could easily walk.
Of course, there's also the fact that if you have a well-designed system, free transport should encourage a lot more economic activity that'll pay back into the funding of the system. That's another thing many cities in the US lack.
People say you shoudln't add lanes, build more rail stops, or otherwise subsidize travel because QoS does not improve. The trains are still crowded, the highways are still backed up. It's about capacity, not QoS. If you can't make the pipe faster you can make it wider.
The system doesn't even need to be very well designed (though that's certainly a helpful) because people will automatically load balance based on personal preferences (cost vs time vs inconvenience vs whatever).
It is hard to see how it'll really convince many people not already taking public transit to use it, though. Cars are pretty expensive to have anywhere in Europe with the price of gas and typically more discouraging laws for car ownership (not sure what they're like specifically in Germany), I can't imagine it's a large cross-section of the population that drives because it's cheaper.
When you have a car, but you don't have a transit pass, the cost of completing a particular trip by car is (or at least appears to be) cheaper than doing so by public transit. For example, if I have to go to the city center and back by tram, the cost for two one-way tickets is € 4,60. The cost of one liter of gasoline is somewhere below € 2,00. Public transit only becomes cheaper than going by car if you use it regularly and thus purchase monthly or yearly passes.
They already get paid around $9 billion/year, so I guess the government would just pay more.
I never heard why they stopped, though.
 At one point, I was waiting at a bus stop and a man who was either on serious drugs or schizophrenic came up and started talking to me. When the bus arrived, he followed me on but didn't sit next to me while I started reading a book. A few minutes later, he started behaving even more oddly and pulled out a crack pipe. Sheriff's deputies eventually removed him because he was getting threatening.
In SF you can simply not pay,there is no control. In argentina, the bus driver might not start the bus if you don't pay, turning the whole bus people against you. In germany, you get a damn ticket very fast, which you can pay with credit card.
I once didnt pay the ticket and felt like Jason Bourne.
Damn. I really was like Jason Bourne.
StGB means criminal law.
(1) means that using public telecommunication services (eg. public phones, maybe paid public wifi?), public transport or entering an event with the intent not to pay the fee can lead to jail up to one year or a fine, unless there's another law that mandates a bigger punishment.
(2) means that even the attempt is a crime (ie. you don't have to succeed), otherwise them catching you would make you exempt from that law (as long as you paid up).
The first few incidents can usually be settled with the fine set by the transportation authority, both to avoid too much work in the legal system and because you might legitimately forget it every now and then (and that means no intent = not criminal = they'd lose a case based on this law).
After too many occurences they'll claim that you can't forget it that often, which helps build a case in court.
Not to mention that the way to pay for cash doesnt give out change, which means taht if you dont have a clipper card, you just dont pay anything at all.
The operators are adjusting this so that there are just enough controls to have enough payments. This is an optimization problem and they know what they are doing and how much.
Let's take Rotterdam or Amsterdam as an example. Both of these stations are closed off to non-ticket holders. You can access Dutch trains as well as international trains like Thalys to France and ICE to Germany.
Access is granted by individual tickets bought from the Dutch railway kiosks, by Dutch public transport cards, or by printed/digital QR-code tickets from any of the three rail companies. There is only one type of barrier. There are not isolated entrances for particular lines.
Maybe I misunderstand you, because what you say is close to impossible seems to work just fine in the NL.
But you're right, it's actually not impossible just unlikely to happen. And I must say I really enjoyed the Dutch system where you don't have to print paper every time.
Heh, when we went Amsterdam - Berlin and vice versa we had to print our tickets. We even reserved seats. I quite like that system. One has to reserve in advance if one wants to save costs though.
The downside of the Dutch system is its easy for the government and railroad employees to check where you went. There was even a recent scandal about this, where an API was public which showed the transactions. The price of the transactions could be correlated with the cities the traveller traveled to and from.
In Germany, you have more anonymity thanks to being dependent on paying with cash and paper tickets.
Look, if, with exactly the same cost attached, people don't want that by choice... fair enough. However we don't that choice. And if you travel like 3 times a year a long trip through The Netherlands the 40% discount in down time hours is already worth it. Which is not anonymous but linked to your name. The anonymous card is a joke anyway; not my definition of anonymity that is for sure.
Airports have contracts with each airline flying anyway so they can adapt their systems. Since aviation is a for-profit business (at least in theory), there's more money to do this than for tax funded public transport.
They designed a credit-card sized paper ticket. You can buy a ticket from any station in Britain, to a destination that requires you to change in London (e.g. Brighton), and your ticket will work to travel between the main stations in London. Or you can buy a ticket to a destination in London.
However, this does make some more novel ticket types difficult or impossible. In many other countries, you can buy tickets online and print them at home, or buy rail tickets with a smartphone. These aren't possible in Britain.
A typical barrier in London accepts: National Rail (orange) tickets that used to be labelled "Rail Settlement Plan", Oyster (a contactless travel pass used for most public transit in London), the various contactless payment standards (for your VISA etcetera) and its own pink tickets. But a human is always there if you have something else.
They even want to expand these subsidies to small businesses and extend the amount to 8,000 Euros.
The problem indeed is that this would not help to banish air pollution, because the numbers are to low. The second thing is, that only wealthier people would benefit from these subsidies. You have to be able to afford a new car at first. And second you have to be able to afford an electric car. And even if you are the typical buy brand new cars guy, you typically drive these cars 6 to 10 years. So these subsidies might come in an unpleasent moment of your car-buying-cycle.
Free public transportation could reduce car traffic and everybody could benefit. Even poor people.
Even in Germany, politics are politics and fears are not always rational.
Germany imports energy. It also imports electricity sometimes. But Germany actually has a large export surplus for electricity over the last five years - even though several nuclear power plants have been closed. And the surplus is widening.
> So phasing out nuclear power, while still importing from nations running nuclear is somewhat hypocritical (e.g. France has some plants along the border).
Germany has now the largest electricity export surplus in Europe. Germany also has a large electricity export surplus with France.
The German export surplus of electricity in 2017 was 60TWH. 2016 56 TWH, 2015 57TWH. Etc.
In money this means an export surplus in 2017 of 1.4 Billion Euro.
Renewable energy is now at 36% for electricity and Germany now for the first time has days where the whole country is powered by renewable electricity.
> e.g. France has some plants along the border
The old french nuclear power plants Germany would like to see closed.
> I wonder where the energy for electric cars will come from if they truly become popular.
Depends where you are, but I live in North Germany and it's possible to have large amount of surplus electricity in one or two decades from wind with buffers (like hydro in Norway which is then transported via HVDC lines to Germany).
Great, but my point still stands. Would I like more renewables? Of course! Would I prefer running the nuclear powerplants we already have instead of coal? Yes.
The surplus is great, but just illustrates the issue with renewables. I just wish we could be a bit more truthful about the surplus. Large numbers are nice, but that’s manager level detail. A surplus when you don’t need it and have no way of storing it is useless, and you end up paying people to use electrisity, which has happened. And that’s with only 36% renewable energy. This problem will get worse, not better.
I guess electric cars will be able to store some of that by charging during the day and overnight. But we’re still far away from 100% renewable without electric cars, and just because we’re not burning petrol or diesel doesn’t make electric cars environmentally friendly.
I would not. But I'm for phasing out coal next.
> A surplus when you don’t need it and have no way of storing it is useless, and you end up paying people to use electrisity, which has happened.
these are rare events. As I said Germany has a surplus export not only in TWH, but also in Euro.
The large exports numbers are not because we have renewable energy we can't store, but because we have too much power plant capacity and the owners don't want to shut them down while they are making money. Thus one can export the surplus production - the power plants are already there and paid.
Also keep in mind, the old days of an energy market which is limited to a country is over. The EU is also about a EU-wide energy market. This transition is ongoing and in the future you will see more of this and you will see whole new electricity networks set up between EU member states - for example connecting all north-sea countries. These networks will also buffer demand spikes. For example upcoming HVDC lines between Norway and Germany will be able to reverse transport directions based on demand or storage priority. Stuff like that is already in the works, like this 1.4GW line between Norway and North Germany
A second line is thought to follow somewhen in the next decade...
> have no way of storing it is useless
Storing electricity will get more important in the future. But the transition phase to 100% renewable is still more than three decades and when storage is REALLY needed might be a decade or more away.
Right now it is more important to deliver surplus energy to regions where this would be needed. But keep in mind that this is also not an infrastructure problem, but also about regions unwilling to import electricity from other regions. Regions are egoistic and they want to benefit from the electricity production without having the negative sides.
For example many regions in Germany were keen to have a nuclear power plant and were happy to profit from electricity sales, but literally not a single region could persuade their population to allow storing of nuclear waste, hosting the dirty parts of the nuclear industry (like reprocessing plants) or setting up some of the 'riskier' nuclear power plants (like breeders).
The result is that now solar + batteries is actually cheaper than coal (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16258419).
So that seems to be among the most rational and farsighted political decisions, ever.
Nuclear power is politically impossible to sustain in Germany. It's also vastly more expensive than any other major source of power. Those are facts just as hard as any natural science. The world has moved on, and the supposedly irrational environmentalists and politicians have dramatically improved the technology, while all the science fiction enthusiasts are still fetishising nuclear power long after it has become embarrassing.
82,17 TerraWattHours exported
37,12 TWH imported
91,8 TWH nuclear
187,4 TWH regenerativ energy
The main problem Germany is facing, is the storage of Energy on Sunny, Windy days. Storing this energy in car Batteries would be an extra bonus. Plus, regenerativ energy is going to increase further.
Yes, your absolutely right about the coal plants. And I am pretty sure they are going to be shut down. But the main problem is, nuclear waste will stay for millions of years, while CO2 in the atmosphere will probably vanish in centuries. Not nice but that's the decision to make.
-close to a water source with the Rhine basin
-close to where the electricity will be used (Paris and its suburbs on the West side, Germany to sell on the East side, major cities all around)
-close to where heavy industry exists (both for use and production of the construction pieces)
-Outside of the areas of seismic risk
This "consideration" comes with a couple grains of salt.
First the regulatory-political climate: The pronouncement was stated days ahead of a court ruling regarding what measurements communities could take to reduce air pollution, as well as weeks ahead of a decision the EU will make about how to punish countries that repeatedly miss pollution thresholds, like Germany.
That means: The government is telling communities 'behave', dare not prohibit any type of cars (diesel) from entering your cities, you may get into our "free public transport program" instead.
That it is a crude plan is exemplified by the fact, that some of the "first tier" communities in the plan didn't knew about the plan at all and first heard from it in the news, most of them were just informed days before. So far, all communities criticize the idea.
The estimated costs for Hamburg alone would amount to 800-900 million EUR/year, paid by all the rest of Germany. And then there is the problem that public transit crosses community boundaries - the crude plan though as it is, would grant citizens of one community free access to the same transit system that the neighbouring citizens would have to pay in full.
Regardless of whether free public transit makes sense at all - The fact that it is brought up in such a crude proposal and the fact that it is a progressive idea taken "hostage" by conservatives it is an idea bound to fail and to be muted a long time afterwards.
1) It will have an enormous cost. TfL in London collects £5bn/yr in fare revenue. While fares are lower in Berlin and it's a less busy system, it will still probably cost €500mn/yr for Berlin alone.
2) Most people driving are not doing it because they cannot afford public transit fares. They are either wanting a more 'luxurious' environment, can't get where they are going easily on public transit, etc. I'm not convinced it would actually induce much demand on the system from car drivers.
3) It may induce a load of demand from non-car drivers, who can now do a load more trips, longer commutes, etc.
4) Most public transit systems are at peak capacity in rush hour. In London if you switched everyone who was driving to public transit you'd need to double the capacity to do so. Considering crossrail is being built for ~£20bn to increase capacity 10%, you'd probably be needing to spend hundreds of billions of euro on capacity upgrades.
Much better to actually tax the diesel cars properly for the externality cost rather than do some other policy which doesn't directly address the issue.
As to cost, 5bn/yr for significant increases in air quality and lower personal costs as people drive less is necessarily a bad deal. Much like how public healthcare is nominally expensive, but if tax is less than insurance costs that's a net savings not a cost.
PS: Some of that 5bn/yr also goes to collecting fairs. Avoid that effort and you would see significant reductions in operating expenses.
People who drive cars are likely to continue driving cars even if it was free.
You get worst of both worlds: loads more demand and no real reduction in driving.
Why not just tax the actual cars instead of losing 5bn/yr of revenue? If the goal is actually to reduce pollution. Stick a €5000/yr tax on bad diesel cars (and maybe transfer that money directly to a EV subsidy fund). They will vanish tomorrow.
HN isn't nearly as price sensitive as the general public.
I'm all for allocating more tax money to transit (and I think it's pretty cool that "we"/"they" are actually consisting it), but I'm really afraid that quality would suffer a lot of tickets were abandoned. Turning businesses (even heavily subsidized businesses) into charities will absolutely change how they are run.
Subway's don't operate as independent businesses. They can't raise fair prices arbitrarily and often receive far more money from the government than from their nominal customers.
That it's costly doesn't mean it ain't worth the price. Universal healthcare is costly.
Also as other commenters note, if it succeeds and lowers air pollution significantly it might save more than it costs in fines and respiratory disease treatment & lost productivity costs.
> Most people driving are not doing it because they cannot afford public transit fares. They are either wanting a more 'luxurious' environment, can't get where they are going easily on public transit, etc. I'm not convinced it would actually induce much demand on the system from car drivers.
Affordance is one thing, convenience is another. I can well afford to buy a ticket, but not having to? Not needing to plan for queuing at the vending machine for an individual ticket, or seeing my bus/train leave because I was a bit short and had to make a stop? Not suffering the hassle of finding my passcard and seeing NFC fail because it's too hot, too cold or Tuesday? Not being caged in/out of the public transport system?
Hell, just the latest is my fondest memories of Lyon's metro, not sure about now but 20 years back there were no porticos anywhere, you could walk/run from the station's entrance to the train without having to stop anywhere. Paris's gates were both less friendly and less convenient.
> 3) It may induce a load of demand from non-car drivers, who can now do a load more trips, longer commutes, etc.
Oh no, people without cars being allowed to move around, what horror.
> Most public transit systems are at peak capacity in rush hour.
People who have to take public transports during rush hours won't take it even more, and people who don't have to avoid it regardless of price. Off-peak though…
> In London
The article is about Germany, not London.
> Much better to actually tax the diesel cars properly for the externality cost rather than do some other policy which doesn't directly address the issue.
Car tax doesn't just affect cities with good public transport infrastructure. In fact it mostly affects people not in that situation.
I have not seen these calculations.
> Affordance is one thing, convenience is another. I can well afford to buy a ticket, but not having to? Not needing to plan for queuing at the vending machine for an individual ticket, or seeing my bus/train leave because I was a bit short and had to make a stop? Not suffering the hassle of finding my passcard and seeing NFC fail because it's too hot, too cold or Tuesday? Not being caged in/out of the public transport system?
That's all non-problems for most people. Here in Hamburg many people have month or year cards. Buying tickets via mobile phones is easy and common now. There is also no NFC involved. If I'm moving in Hamburg, I usually get a day ticket on my mobile phone - which is cheaper than two normal trip tickets. The ticket is valid for local trains, bus, ferry, ...
> bus/train leave because I was a bit short and had to make a stop
The public transport system is really really dense. If your bus leaves without you, the next one comes in a few minutes.
> 20 years back there were no porticos anywhere, you could walk/run from the station's entrance to the train without having to stop anywhere
standard in the whole of Germany.
> People who have to take public transports during rush hours won't take it even more
Sure they would. Demand would go up over much of the day, which means infrastructure investments.
> Car tax doesn't just affect cities with good public transport infrastructure.
Why not? Even German cities with extensive public transport systems have lots of car traffic.
(2) Partially true, I guess. However, public transport would get a lot better due to higher frequencies, etc. There will also be a lot of people who would actually enjoy time for reading (instead of traffic jams) and don’t quite understand their current costs of running a car
(3) Yes. And also demand by people who can’t afford mobility today but would love to be mobile
(4) Yes, not sure if that’s a con?
Diesel tax: Nice complement to free public transport
I also don't think you're doing a lot of reading in crush loaded trains, but whatever. I take the train every day but it's not like a nice relaxing intercity journey, in London rush hour it can be complete hell and is completely not productive when you have 4 people in a sqm.
But the bigger wins are more active travel (by providing segregated cycle routes) and moving more Tube journeys to the shoulder peak.
I sincerely doubt that. With trains every 2-3 minutes and 500-1000 people per train, each tube line transports probably at least 2-3 people per second in each direction. The road traffic above the surface is a fraction of that. Removing all cars from the road (most of which aren't private cars anyway) during peak time would maybe increase demand by some 5-10%.
That's different for trains, obviously. To replace the M1 North of London you'd need to increase train service significantly.
Transportation demand is devious. People might travel more and further if it’s free. This could also affect where people move and to where they are willing to commute.
But that's still faster than taking the car, just cycling tends to be a bit faster door2door.
There are so many areas really badly served in outer london by transit that cars are used a lot.
Also, it would make buses faster and thus more attractive vs. the tube, further reducing the increase in demand on the tube.
If New York made the subway free, I'd ride it more. Less about cost than hassle: Fishing out a Metrocard, (dropping it, picking it up); swiping; learning it's five cents short; standing in line, negotiating the machine; waiting for it to return your card while your train arrives and leaves.
Highly recommend it!
Irrelevant. It's friction. More friction means more complexity and less use. Not having to plan is convenient and freeing. And leaves more headroom for planning genuinely important things.
By that time you're already in your car, there's friction but there's probably more friction to finding an alternative mode of transportation than to stopping at a gas station.
> or charge my phone to use Uber.
You're likely using your phone for many other things and charging it every night if not more often, you don't have to charge it exclusively for the purpose of using Uber.
Also, increasing ridership helps to make public transit better, which actually can convince car drivers to switch. in my town, the bus comes every 30 minutes except during special events like festivals when they get a couple extra buses and it comes every 10 minutes. At a 30min frequency, i take my car or bike. at a 10 minute frequency, i take the bus. If you increase the number of riders by making transit free, that can create a political motivation to increase transit service.
One of the major reasons that I am not in favor is because in Pakistan ( where I am originally from) they launched a Metro Bus service a few years ago, the fare was a nominal flat rate ( ~ 15 euro-cents) for traveling as much as you can in one direction. Now although it is a great service for the people but the buses are always over crowded, and because they are incurring a loss and the government has to spend millions of dollars per year in subsidies just to keep it afloat; They have not upgraded capacity and it is really inconvenient to travel on those buses ( I remember getting sick 4-5 times a year when I regularly traveled on those buses).
A better solution would to be start banning the diesel engine, ramp up the taxes for fossil fuel based cars. And to force factories to reduce their carbon emissions.
I'd be extremely surprised if this becomes a real project.
To give some context, Germany is currently in coalition talks for the forming of a new government and the Social Democrats(SPD) are screwed. They promised no more coalition government before the election but stepped back on that. The party voted by a hair to take up negotiations for a new coalition, during which the prime candidate(Schulz) was completely abandoned after trying to give him the post of former SPD foreign minister Gabriel. Now they face a party vote on getting involved in a new government and they fall in polls almost every week.
There is absolutely no substance on this topic.
Rural folks are already heavily subsidized in Germany, e.g. commute expenses being effectively tax free no matter the distance, very much unlike the increased rent you pay for living closer to work. If anything it would be evening things out a little.
But of course that won't keep them from shouting this down for this very reason, completely ignoring the fact that drivers would be the most immediate beneficiaries of less congested streets. If this free transit idea would ever be realized (which I doubt) it would most definitely have to be defended at constitutional court level against stubborn "not with my tax money" resistance.
There are many so called "Hidden Champions", which are often located in these areas. Farming and so on is not very typical for German villages. A village with 3,000 people has perhaps one to three farms employing at most 10 - 20 people.
As an example of why it can be bad, argentina has subway in Buenos Aires, and it used to be federally owned. That meant taxes from all the country paid for subway in the city.
OTOH if you have income taxes (i think they do), as a renter, you will pay a tax that goes to build a subway that makes the rent where you live higher.
My concerns of free public transportation would be that it would encourage very strange discentives. For example, a postmates company can say that all deliveries are done on public transport, which means basically the state will be subsidizing some kinds of businesses, to the detriment of others (whole sale retailers for example).
Also free transport will make people extend their commutes, because now a very long trip doesnt matter if its costly. This happens in argentina.
I don't drive because it is cheaper, I drive because it is faster, more comfortable and more convenient (it gets me closer to where I want to be).
This lead to a common sentiment that busses were smelly, unsafe places, and it was eventually scraped.
(Germany seems to have less of a homeless population than West Coast cities, so perhaps this won’t be an issue for them.)
Many cities in other developed countries are doing much better.
Seattle has ~3x as many homeless per population than the US average. The US has ~3x as many homeless per population than Germany.
That's about one decimal magnitude of difference (at a somewhat comparable climate - San Francisco likes to claim that they have to deal with so many homeless people because of the accomodating weather)
Whatever is going on in Seattle, there's likely room to improve.
Do millions of displaced people after a sizable war count?
Other bigger factors to pollution are industries and electricity production. Curbing pollution is not possible if country/states are not very concerned about it, be it regulating the industries, making better public transport or focusing on renewable energy. Problem is, some of the leaders are focused on politics and others care only about growth and economics. They don't even think that pollution is a real issue. And those who care and think about it, are not allowed to live and do their work!
My 20 minutes U-Bahn commute from Britz to Kreuzberg becomes a 35 minutes one if I ride a car. That's also assuming that finding a parking spot is instantaneous, which it isn't.
I've been in Japan last year for vacation. Public transportation was a breeze compared to Germany (5 min stepover time was no problem; try this in Germany).
Anecdotal: We returned from (another) vacation by plane and took the train back home from the airport. We had to stepover once. Not only was the first train late, but also time schedule of the catching train was at odds. When we left the train station there was (in the train!) an announcement that the train will not stop at some of the advertised stops in order to catch up with time. We had to leave the train at an earlier station and where left to sort out the problem ourselves.
That's why there are huge integrated public transport regions around the cities.
In Hamburg the public transport system reaches a metropolitan area of around 4 million people. Some 750 connections are being offered, which reach far into neighbour states.
I've been a long time user of the public transport system here and never has there been a more extensive service and a simpler handling of tickets than what we have now.
Any complaints are from a very very high level.
> We returned from (another) vacation by plane and took the train back home from the airport.
In Hamburg you drop off the plane, head to the public transport S-Bahn at the airport and in 20 minutes you are in the center of the city. The S-Bahn comes every ten minutes until 11pm and then the S-bahn is still providing public transport throughout the whole night.
Also anecdotally, living in a rural area and getting a bus to school in the city was at least a 45 minute bus journey, with busses maybe every hour. Driving was 20 minutes. I had no choice, at that age I couldn't drive. But if I started working, no way I would do that. A nice side effect of this is people leave these rural-isa areas to move to cities, which increases congestion.
Your anecdote is fine and all, but those problems are worse if you use a car, and they are cheaper to fix in public transport since it reallyis problem in the organization and prioritization of resourcse rather than sunk costs in infrastructure and space.
Artificially depressing commute time is one of the greatest accomplishments of humanity.
Commute times go down with public transport, for all modes of transport, individually and on a population level. When you try to fit public transport after the fact on infrastructure built for personal cars, there will always be an edge for the cars, making the choice for cars easier.
In the end you have to see infrastructure for public transport and bicycles as a tool to increase network capacity. If you only prioritize cars you are making it worse for everyone and yourself because more people will use cars and your commute time is longer until you build more roads (Rinse repeat).
This is not rocket science, it has been known for a long time.
Prioritizing capacity at all costs makes sense in a bursting-at-the-seams megacity like New York, San Francisco, London, etc. There, sure, everyone needs to give up some convenience so that everyone else can fit. There's a point beyond which personal cars as a transportation system doesn't scale, and above that point, we need to put them down.
But much of the world doesn't live that way and doesn't want to. It's completely appropriate for smaller and slower-growth communities which have the space (i.e. away from the major cities, like parent's comment) to optimize for quality of life, mobility, detached houses, yards, etc. instead. You don't need to sacrifice everything in the name of capacity when your capacity demands are small. That doesn't mean complete car supremacy like the exurban US, but it also doesn't mean treating hours of people's lives as necessary sacrifices.
You have to ask yourself, generally when you leave these car utopian places, will you pass or enter areas where public transport seems to be a good idea? The answer of course depends on the definition in the first paragraph, and I'm pretty sure you overestimate the population needed for good public transport by some order of magnitude.. If those places are an important part of your life then you also need to think about public transport.
The source I've read (http://taz.de/Regierung-erwaegt-kostenlosen-OePNV/!5481464/ ) mentions seven more ideas in the letter to the EU, only the free public transport standing out as radical. Traffic restrictions, incentives for e-mobility and upgrading pollution vehicles are others. I bet that's what is to be expected sooner or later and someone just slipped the radical idea about free public transport in to see the fallout.
And electrifying buses is pretty easy and fast, comparatively speaking. Buses tend to have a shorter operational life than commuter cars and are in use a lot more and there's a lot fewer of them. Replacing tens of millions of commuter cars is a lot harder than tens of thousands of transit buses.
...of course, Germany's grid is pretty dirty since they keep building coal ("lignite", a sort of euphemistic way of saying "brown coal") infrastructure while shutting down perfectly good, clean nuclear power. But should still help.
example story https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/01/why-can...
(Hello downvotes? If you are not in tune with German politics: this is the same government that is in contempt of court for failing to enforce effective measurements to stop excessive pollution levels. This is not at all a sincere suggestion.)
I would happily stop using the car if this happens along with a solution for taking bikes. Currently, I should buy a separate ticket to take my bike along with me(around €2.50 in Munich for a day) and I'm allowed to take the bike only during 6am to 9am and 4pm to 6pm.
So, more cars on the road (at least at first) will help with pollution?
Don't get me wrong; public transport is a great thing. But just pasting it onto a culture of driving cars is going to fail, at least at the start.