in the peak hours you often have to skip two or three trains because they’re packed.
I was born in Paris and have lived there for 30+ years, and the vast majority of the time I can take the subway just fine.
13 is a mess indeed but 4 is also bad , 7 has a lot of trouble, 12 has crack addicts on the dock menacing passengers, etc..
i’m also born and raised in Paris, and lived there for 40 years, but once you take the subway in other crowded cities ( honk kong, tokyo, shanghai, sf , london, etc) you realize having a subway that smells urine and shit , has technical issues every single days, and simply can’t handle the population flow at all, isn’t « normal ».
We can live with it, the whole society has adapted to it, but i wouldn’t call the situation «fine».
I take the 4 all the time as it is right next to my place, without any issue. In fact I cannot even remember the last time it was packed.
I also traveled and did not find other subways to be considerably better in every aspect. Subway in Japan is horribly complicated for example, with different companies operating the various lines of some major cities!
London's tube is known to be overcrowded as well, and I feel like technical issues happens everywhere but in Paris the driver actually tells you what's going on.
People like to romance what happens in Paris, don't be fooled, in reality it's just safe and fun in my opinion.
Or walking... Do you walk a quarter mile or do you ride the bus? If the bus is free the number of able bodied people using the bus for trivial distances could increase.
Above a certain frequency buses become extremely unreliable and dwell times start impacting travel time because bus stops only have so much room. With trains you have more room to work with, but once you run out the marginal cost of building new lines runs in the hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars.
When services are made free, people have to wait longer, paying with their time instead of with money.
People who don't want to wait and are not given the choice of paying for faster service end up having to buy cars instead, making traffic worse for everyone.
I don't think you can write off the decrease in foot traffic free public transit would cause.
Metro rail is sexy, but it's only one part of the transport mix.
I think that making public transport free in an easy step on the way to a city that relies a lot less on cars. Of course making it more attractive to walk or cycle and more expensive to drive is very important too, but that requires a lot more work.
it’s dangerous because roads are very narrow ( so protected bike lanes are rare) and there’s a lot of traffic.
the bike city service got changed recently to include electric bikes and as a result nothing worked for months ( not sure it’s back to normal yet).
Even if you manage to get a bike there’s a very high chance your bike will have defects because people like to do stupid things with them, like getting down stairs, or hitting the curbs.
and finally, if you think about buying yourself a bike, expect to have it stolen on average once a year ( depending on its price).
Very few people would have this luxury in city like Paris, where housing is prohibitely expensive in the city center, where many offices are traditionally located.
And, before you say "You might be inclined to find a job where more affordable housing is available", many people do not have so much choice in terms of where to work (same as working from home).
There is little point in making public transport free there. This is still money to be paid one way or another.
What's the interval between trains at peak hours?
The government is currently investing $25B in building more relief capacity, but who knows how much investment you’d need to handle the unlimited travel demand caused by a free fare.
But even if cutting prices is within Paris only it will probably affect suburb-Paris traffic, because it changes the cost of a trip to Paris, possibly now cheaper than driving. The article is light on details, but it looks like these measures are taken by the city of Paris with the aim to reduce the traffic within the city.
- the projected impact on car use was negligible (around 2%) ;
- the projected increase in the number of users (between 6% and 10%) is above the current infrastructure capacity ;
- the new cost (3.3 billions euros) would be mainly supported by the Paris agglomeration inhabitants through their taxes rather than spread on all users ;
- it's already free for the poorest and heavily subsidised for most of the local.
In France, Dunkirk apparently does offer free public transportation for all but it's a small city .
One way to balance between free ride abuse and people not using the trains because they have a car is to give residents the "average" number of rides a commuter would use in a week to them every week for free. Maybe even give people who don't own motor vehicles more free rides as a "thank you" from the city for not making them maintain the road and parking infrastructure for you.
But any city that is not expanding its transit to meet demand is crippling its own economic potential. Its a shame that pretty much every US city is guilty of this but most of the US government is designed to self-sabotage things like publicly run transit anyway.
What level of US government is sabotaging transit? The federal government doles out at least $2.3B every year for transit projects, meanwhile state and local governments throughout the US are approving tax increases for more transit.
168 billion total from state and local.
Public transit on the other hand sees only 24.38 billion total.
That's about a fifth of what just Paris spends per year. For a 300-million inhabitants country, it seems a bit low.
At this level a couple billion dollars is hardly anything.
Or is it unions? Or maybe something down the chain?
The TTC/Subway in Toronto has 'change collectors' - people at every station who do change, they earn over $100K if they work a lot of overtime.
There are effectively no automatic change booths at the stations, and no automated way to just 'buy a token and get on'.
Can you imagine why it's so inefficient?
Why they can't just get machines for that?
My cousin is senior at a contracting agency that's building out the new stations - everyone from top to bottom is charging huge for government work.
CGI, a Canadian consulting firm billed the US Gov. more than a $ 1 Billion for healthcare.gov - something that Google had to 'come in and fix'.
Governments are much bigger and more powerful than ever before, individual litigation is on the rise, 'special rights and concerns' are at the forefront, and there are a million legal tangles to any major project.
Many of these things, on their own are 'good things', but on the whole, it really creates a tangle.
The reason very little gets done is that we are caught up in our own efficient bureaucracies, public and private.
It has all the hallmarks of the things you bring up in your comment. Contractor was going to build it, but fire department demanded a special lock in case of emergency, screwdriver for a nail problem, etc.
That's actually what they do in Toronto now. It's all "Presto Card" automated.
Astonishingly, the 'change collectors', who only sell tokens don't sell Presto cards.
Yet another mind-blowing bit of incompetence.
In Montreal, not only can you buy temporary cards (with money or visa), but you can also put rides on them in a fully automated way.
I will admit that the situation in Toronto may be temporary, but it's still utterly ridiculous.
And why you have to line up, pay, enter the station, and buy 'presto card' passes ... from the newstand in most cases ? ...
It's utter dysfunction.
It was already really cheap, but it was annoying to always have to buy a ticket, have coins in your pocket to do so or remember to recharge your card. As a luxembourgish citizen that uses buses and the tram in luxembourg city from time to time, especially the night shuttles back home after going out, so I'm really happy this will finally soon happen.
I also think it financially makes sense for the country, all public transport costs the country 1 billion but the fares only bring 30 million in, so covering those last 30 million by taxes is in my opinion a good idea. The ticket machines can now get abolished which will save costs too and the workers controlling tickets will be able to do other tasks like related to security instead of hunting down people that didn't pay their 2 euro ticket.
Businesses do this all the time, and I don't see how it is too big of a hurdle to overcome.
Guangzhou had to pull the plug on free transit during the 2010 Asian Games because queue times for the metro increased by half an hour just to get into the station, let alone board a train. What’s the use of a free train if you can’t board it?
And last time I was there the controllers were scanning passes quite frequently.
I've never been in the Paris métro after it shut down, but are you saying the homeless people camping in some stations in the evenings, wrapped in their sleeping bags, get up at 1 a.m. and file out? I somehow doubt that.
But I’m going to continue funding homicide investigations.
“Don’t make things livable in small and practical ways, just hold out for total structural revolution and the solution to multigenerational and intractable social problems” is an infuriating line that unfortunately guides much of San Francisco policymaking.
(2) You live in a society and pretending that you don't and funding nothing isn't going to make the problem go away, it's going to be there getting worse. This is the dark side to America's individualism. Everyone looks out for themselves and pretends nobody else's problems should matter to them, then look around at the crap pile that leaves behind and wonders whose responsibility it should be -- not theirs to be sure.
So yes, I'm willing to tell some homeless people to go to a shelter (of which there are plenty in the city) rather than ruin a transit system used by half a million commuters.
- Can't solve homelessness without mass affordability.
- Can't have mass affordability without density.
- Can't have density when voters are worried about congestion and parking impacts of development.
- Can't stop worrying about congestion and parking impacts of development when you drive everywhere.
- Won't stop driving everywhere until transit is attractive.
Homelesness and repulsive transit are a feedback loop. We have to break it somewhere. Fare enforcement is a lever we actually have.
I live in the CBD, and the only time it ever actually saves me money is in getting to the bus station to the airport.
It was introduced as part of a protracted plan (or lack thereof) to get rid of their least profitable ticket, and has been carefully designed to sound good while minimising utility.
Not to disparage the concept, but in this instance it was introduced to raise revenues, not lower them. Indeed, as Melbourne's trams are run by a private company, none of their policies are designed out of public-mindedness.
There are multiple reasons you'd need to travel within the CBD where you haven't already gotten in by public transport:
It opens up multiple locations in the entire CBD and surrounds to a single day trip without shuttling cars between overly expensive and time consuming parking.
The office can go out together for birthdays, christmas parties, etc without worrying about people's travel means and budgets.
Need to get down to the other end of the CBD for a business meeting: tram. Need to meet someone for coffee? Tram.
Tourists love it when they're staying central and it gives a good impression of our city. Some don't even buy tickets any more when coming for a convention or show.
I can go out and meet my friends/wife for lunch at various parts of the city, get down to the mall to do some shopping, and get back up to work all in the same lunch break now. Not everyone just does single destination trips in and out the city without doing anything else.
It allows one to move around the city and venues with less attention to the weather.
Not having to tap on or off increases boarding/alighting times for a given amount of throughput and in quiet times. (irrespective of whether you've paid to commute in or not)
Many of us from the surrounding suburbs now walk into the city and back out again, making a day of it in the city: this brings life and vibrancy to ALL the surrounding areas and increases walk-ability and foot-traffic, not just in the CBD. There's a whole ring of neighbourhoods on the periphery of the free-tram zone where walking now substitutes for hoping onto a tram 1-4 stops out from the CBD because you know you can make a free transport day of it.
The downside is of course more congestion on trams in the city as more people are using it to move around a few kms of space. And lower city-based tram revenue, but its also partly responsible for added life and vibrancy in the CBD.
The over-crowding is a definite downside when you're only commuting in/out/through the CBD, since you still pay and now often share the trams with large numbers of people going 3 or 4 stops, but we can hardly pretend there are no benefits.
Source: live just outside the CBD.
I'm not unaware of this fact, but consider it basically irrelevant. Trams were privatised in 1999, after which the long series of fare policy adjustments were so baldfacedly opposed to public interest that the argument they were done absent pressure from whichever private organisation owned them at the time is warrantless. And they weren't subtle about the pressure, either - their arguments that their mandate wasn't profitable enough were ceaseless.
If you believe there are other factual errors, let me know.
Addressing the other points would more or less come down to citationless expressions of experience, so I don't know if it's worthwhile. I recognise that you do raise a few benefits, but I don't accept that it's an improved situation over the previously free Swanston Street route absent some numbers. We'll probably have to agree to disagree.
Everything has a cost, and making something (virtually) cost 0 only transfers the cost elsewhere
The taxes are too low.
> The report documents that the amount that road users pay through gas taxes now accounts for less than half of what’s spent to maintain and expand the road system. The resulting shortfall is made up from other sources of tax revenue at the state and local levels, generated by drivers and non-drivers alike. This subsidizing of car ownership costs the typical household about $1,100 per year—over and above the costs of gas taxes, tolls, and other user fees.
I feel like this is the same story that repeats itself all over the place.
Another one is when our northern neighbors in Canada complain about the Chinese elite buying up homes AND keeping them vacant. They want higher taxes on empty homes and homes owned by Chinese nationals. I say such a scheme is racist. The real solution is to increase real estate and property taxes on EVERYONE so each unoccupied house is a net positive return for the community. Nobody likes this idea. They don't want to pay higher taxes themselves. They just want to charge people who aren't there and don't have a voice.
Another example, when I brought up the idea of taxing revenues instead of profits, people said that retail grocery stores would fail instantly because they run on very slim margins. If we said taxes apply on total revenue, anyone operating on razor thin margins would pretty much instantly go out of business. (I usually don't like to admit my ideas are horrible but this one was pretty bad in hindsight. However, the point is taxes on businesses are too low as a percentage of revenue. As an individual, I am also able to spend all the money I earn. I don't claim I should pay no income tax.)
Like highways, these are infrastructure. The goal isn't to recover 100% of revenue from the farebox because it generates revenue indirectly. Without roads you wouldn't have trucks. With a $6.50 Muni ride you wouldn't have much of a downtown core.
There are some notable examples like Hong Kong MTR which generates 125% of operating expenses from the farebox, though their density helps and their creative business model (allowing MTR to own surface rights above stations it constructs ) help that out an awful lot. I'm sure if Muni/Bart/Caltrain were gifted the land on top of each station we'd see fares come down real quick.
No transit agency in the USA accomplishes that, to my knowledge.
s/free/paid for by the taxpayer
It really comes down to, does it go where you want from where you want when you want and all this on a timely basis. Hence the big reason buses always win over rail as they can adapt to changing needs.
In terms of the cost, for systems that aren't heavily used (but nonetheless are essential) getting rid of the fare would probably actually save money, because the slowdown in service, the confusion over payment, and the whole infrastructure to support and enforce payment is actually more expensive than the revenue it generates. It would also serve the population better, be a more pleasant and relaxing experience for riders and drivers, and speed up service. So even if it doesn't increase ridership, it's still worth doing.
A bus from where I live to London takes about 5.5 hours, compared to 2 hours on a train. I can also get a meal served on a train and work comfortably at a large table, which I can't do a bus. Busses definitely don't always win over trains. I think they hardly ever do.
And London has the best bus system in the UK
Interesting. So making it free actually increased costs.
For longer journeys, buses are far too slow. When buses replace trains (e.g. for track maintenance) in Melbourne, travel time usually doubles.
If I choose to bike or walk or take a cab because the train is being terrible, that is felt directly in decreased revenue. I think that’s important for keeping things a little more honest.
If someone can do a private shuttle bus more cheaply than the public transit, and it also offers better service, that should be made obvious. If the public service is entirely paid for by taxes, it would be really difficult to see what’s going on.
It's not that public transport is a bad idea, it's that assholes will be assholes, and the public purse is annoyingly easy to spend on obvious bullshit and political bacon. I wonder if there's a way to structure these things so they're more resistant to these shenanigans.
"[...] the problems plaguing the subway did not suddenly sweep over the city like a tornado or a flood. They were years in the making, and they might have been avoided if decision makers had put the interests of train riders and daily operations ahead of flashy projects and financial gimmicks.
An examination by The New York Times reveals in stark terms how the needs of the aging, overburdened system have grown while city and state politicians have consistently steered money away from addressing them."
"Century-old tunnels and track routes are crumbling, but The Times found that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s budget for subway maintenance has barely changed, when adjusted for inflation, from what it was 25 years ago.
Signal problems and car equipment failures occur twice as frequently as a decade ago, but hundreds of mechanic positions have been cut because there is not enough money to pay them — even though the average total compensation for subway managers has grown to well over $200,000 a year."
"None of this happened on its own. It was the result of a series of decisions by both Republican and Democratic politicians — governors from George E. Pataki to Mr. Cuomo and mayors from Rudolph W. Giuliani to Bill de Blasio. Each of them cut the subway’s budget or co-opted it for their own priorities.
They stripped a combined $1.5 billion from the M.T.A. by repeatedly diverting tax revenues earmarked for the subways and also by demanding large payments for financial advice, I.T. help and other services that transit leaders say the authority could have done without.
They pressured the M.T.A. to spend billions of dollars on opulent station makeovers and other projects that did nothing to boost service or reliability, while leaving the actual movement of trains to rely on a 1930s-era signal system with fraying, cloth-covered cables.
They saddled the M.T.A. with debt and engineered a deal with creditors that brought in quick cash but locked the authority into paying $5 billion in interest that it otherwise never would have had to pay."
Public transport is already heavily subsidised in most European cities.
One of the aim is to cut car use, not to specifically balance the books of just public transports. The issue is thus to avoid using taxpayers' money to finance lines that run mostly empty.
This can improve passenger flow (I live in Paris, and turnstyles are a major pain during rush hour) and passenger convenience.
In the case of Paris, traffic is positively horrible, and parking is even worse of a joke. Yet there are people who still prefer driving and who don't even come from the suburbs (where public transit may be somewhat lacking). The reason is clearly one of convenience which means that this should be taken into account by the authorities if they really want people to drive less (which is the official policy here).
My concern is that free transit would lead to an insatiable amount of travel demand, which we already see with free roads that magically fill up the moment expansions open. A free train is useless if you can't board it. And even with Paris's ambitious plans to expand transit there probably wouldn't be enough capacity, and even that new capacity is only scheduled to come online in a few years' time, since you can't increase buses and trains available instantly.
In the case of Paris, public transit is already insufficient during peak times. I'm sure most people who don't already take it have reasons other than the price, meaning that if it were free there wouldn't be a significant rise in traffic.
However, I think that all the money spent on the ticketing system could help improve the general reliability which in turn would help provide more capacity. This would probable incite more people to take public transport which could help the transport authority obtain more funding from the region government.
As in Paris the transport authority is already heavily subsidized, I think it would be interesting to have to some numbers on how much tickets bring in vs how much the whole ticketing infrastructure costs.
This is coming from Germany though, so ymmv
I agree with the main thrust of what you're saying. But money does serve an important purpose, rationing scarce goods.
Transportation should never be a scarce good. If induced demand highlights cracks in our transportation infrastructure, our job is not limit that use but to fix it through increased capacity.
For example it might cause a company that was going to open an office in a neighboring city to open the office in Paris instead.
If they can't afford it they end up with overcrowded buses and then people who don't want to wait a long time for a bus that isn't full have to buy cars instead, and traffic gets worse for everyone.
It makes society better because it means less congestions on the street and less pollution, it makes it fairer for those that don't have a choice (because they're too far from work to bike or walk, because their city does not have have the right bike lanes, etc ...), it's the definition of what taxes should be for in a developped society, imho.
I'm happy to pay higher taxes for it, despite not needing it since I work remotely and have most place I go to within walking distance by living in city center.
Not that the article here is for kids (and in particular for Paris) so my comparisons is not that great I admit but still, living in a rural area I've spent my entire teenage decade dependant on public transport to go to the school my parent wanted for me, to go to "the city" see my friends/visit places/go to the mediatheque where they had computers (!!!), and along with the food cost at school it was a major expense for my parents, that they would have had to cut on if one of them was unlucky and lost his or her job.
So it still rings very true to me. But again, given it's about Paris, my exemple is not that great. You probably realized I would probably be ok for it country wide though.
Also, there must be plenty of less obvious effects. E.g. Uber Eats or other kinds of delivery services can get cheaper, if couriers can travel across the city all day for free.
And Uber Eats wont use public transport, it is very slow compared to an e-bike or scooter.
I travel often to NYC and it doesn't seem much different to those of many major European cities, at least in terms of reach.
This is location dependent, public transport is not a build-it-and-they-will-use-it expenditure. Where I live, it is not something I'm willing to pay higher taxes for and every time it's done, it goes empty and costs lots. It is the equivalent of just setting a bunch of money on fire.
I'd prefer to see real public support, rather than a business/profit justification for lower fares, but in the current greed-valued world I'll settle for a greed justified way to create a community good.
Perhaps it results in more public support for some reason, I'm unfamiliar with the politics of Hong Kong.
You could similarly run the police at a profit instead of being a cost center by gifting 100 hectares around every police station to the police, and have them collect rent on it. That doesn't make sense either.
For one, it creates a perverse incentive where the government can't let property prices fall for the common good least their public transport (or police) services would go out of business.
Hong Kong famously has a problem with this. It's a relatively low-tax regime with absurdly high housing prices, because they raise a much larger part of their revenue by taxing land than most other similarly developed areas.
Not if you tax the value of ground rent only. If anything, the effect goes the other way, as owners are incented to put their underused properties on the market. (And yes, taxing ground rent only in some relative small areas e.g. around a station may introduce distortionary incentives. But in general, shifting taxation towards land improves the incentive for good government, especially provision of local amenities.)
There is also strong synergy between the trains and the area immediately around it. Also you have to buy the land anyways for the station.
Don’t think that argument holds as strongly to police statins
makes 2 billion a year on public transportation
When Google ‘loses money’ on search to make it up with ads, everyone thinks this is very clever. What Hong Kong is doing is no different.
The value of that land is its adjacency to public transportation
In SV, land value is generally orthogonal to nearness to public transportation (because of demographics if nothing else). And along transit lines, the only uptick is near to stations. (If you live next to rail between stations, it's a disadvantage because of noise and added travel in accessing neighborhoods on the other side of the tracks, since you are limited to established crossings.
It works partly because the fines are relatively significant and levels of public trust and integrity are likely more universal, so there are few "Schwarzfahrers" (fare dodgers, literally "black travelers").
Caltrain has the same "honor" system, but conductors often do proof-of-payment checks.
VTA likes this because it artificially inflates their census.
It allows kids to participate in more after-school activities (when school busses don't run). But yeah, they also go to the mall on the weekend.
It's not really about the cost: this move makes it easier (in many ways) to use public transportation to get your kid to school. It means you don't have to think or worry about your child's tickets, buying or validating them. You just hop on and ride, only remembering about your fare (presumably you already have a way of paying, I use my phone to pay).
are generally well-regarded
But I still feel for the humpback calves.
This move isn’t going to change much. Children under 4 already don’t pay, and children under 10 pay half price. But overall it’s fairly rare to see kids commute by subway in Paris. Most kids go to school not far from where they live.
For those who may believe that this is going to increase the number of kids begger in the subway, I’d say that these guys already don’t pay...
Why has each country come down on different sides of who is deemed most 'deserving'? What's the rationale for targeting one group or the other?
Why would they 'waste' money on people that would never vote for them anyway?
But yes, good point.
It's mentioned in the article.
in Prague anyone under 15 travel for free (need to get is card which cost less than euro) and even adult accompanying toddler under 3 travel for free, of course retired people above 65-70 have everywhere in central Europe free travel
I definitely wouldn't let kids under 15-16 ride alone.