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French city of Dunkirk tests out free transport (france24.com)
250 points by UglyToad 85 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 204 comments



Although in this and other cases the free bus plan is chiefly motivated by the need to fight poverty (remember that the yellow vest movement started over a fuel price raise), its larger long term benefit might rather be to overthrow cars reign in cities.

From this angle, there is an important detail that I haven't seen mentioned in the article or the comments: to be really useful in a post-car environment and allow residents to reach any A from any B without a personal 1-ton-of-steel individual vehicle, public transports must be designed to transport not only pedestrians but their bikes too.

In Amsterdam for instance, most trains/trams/busses would have a dedicated place where to put bikes (coaches would have special bike holder at the front for instance, while most trains/trams would have a dedicated large lobby in some wagons). There, most large trips would naturally be completed by a combination of bike + public transport + bike, making it not only possible but normal to go anywhere without a car. There, it is not cost free though (and in some cases, such as trains, you'd have to pay a little extra for your bike); still, being able to bring your bike might help to reduce overall price (and time) as it may avoids to have to transfer to a non-free public transport for some leg of the trip.


> remember that the yellow vest movement started over a fuel price raise

Slightly off topic but: it runs much deeper than that, the gas price was just the last straw. The whole thing was a shit show because none of them were able to articulate a real political discourse, they were upset (and rightly so) but had no idea why. They even rejected to meet political leaders or have spokespersons for months and that's what eventually killed the movement. In the end it was a mix of low pension, low min wage, tax evasion (amazon, google, &c.), macron's politics of prioritising companies (tax--) over people (tax++), europe stance on immigration, &c. aka: no matter why you were upset you could fit in the yellow vest movement.

That's a very french thing to do: notice something might be wrong/you're getting fucked over by the government, complain a lot, break/burn things, secure nice social advances most of the rest of the world take X0 years to get, it's been happening since 1789 so we're kind of used to it by now.


> none of them were able to articulate a real political discourse, they were upset (and rightly so) but had no idea why.

This is so pedantic! Of course people know why they're angry. Of course if you watch TV or read mainstream newspaper they won't give you an idea; you would have to go to the protest yourself to escape the propaganda.

> They even rejected to meet political leaders or have spokespersons for months

And we still do! Nobody can represent anybody else. Representative democracy is the structure that failed us in the first place. Never again: we won't stop fighting until we have a direct democracy without a ruling oligarchy.

> In the end it was a mix

And the climate crisis. And education reforms promising even more brainless indoctrination. And the National Universal Service which is a nicer name for militarist/fascist propaganda aimed at children. And racist anti-immigration laws in which Macron doubled the maximum retention time for undocumented people (45->90 days). And police violence destroying the sense of community in whole districts. And health care workers slowly being pushed to suicide by an administration that wants to close down public hospitals to ensure a new economy for private health.

> no matter why you were upset you could fit in the yellow vest movement.

Except fascists are not welcome. Fortunately they were kicked out of most demos by popular outrage.

> secure nice social advances most of the rest of the world take X0 years to get

The truth is France is far behind much of the world in terms of social advances. It's one of the richest nations in the world, yet has ~10% extreme poverty, and much of the social system is slowly being dismantled... very similar in some regards to the USA.

Burning rich people's shit is literally the most peaceful we can do in times like these, given the pace at which they're killing us.

We deserve better. We can do better. Let's build a better world from the ashes of this unfair and violent society.


> Of course if you watch TV or read mainstream newspaper they won't give you an idea; you would have to go to the protest yourself to escape the propaganda.

So you can fall victim to the protester's propaganda instead of the mainstream news propaganda?

That's a common argument for many things, and I don't consider it valid.

It is like saying that you can't understand a cult unless you become part of that cult. Some people took on the advise and become brainwashed like everyone else, it is hard to keep a neutral point of view under the peer pressure such meetings usually entail. "seeing for yourself" to get an unbiased opinion is easier said than done.

You mentioned fascists. Did you go see fascists? I did, and they are probably much friendlier than you imagine, and they have convincing arguments. It requires some amount of detachment to see the flaws in their ideas.

Now back to the yellow vests. I've seen protests, my father was part of the movement, I met many people with different ideas. And from my experience, that's a mess. My father joined the movement because of a dislike in the banking system and Macron's administration, and found like-minded individuals. He left a few weeks later when another groups pushed ideas about unions he didn't share at all. I know one self-employed nurse who was booed at a protest when other people from the same movement claim they support self-employment and better medical support... go figure. The things is: individual groups know why they are upset, but the movement itself is all over the place. There are some common themes like taking money from the rich and giving it to the poor but as the movement progresses, it becomes broader and broader, covering immigration (more immigration control, but treat refugees better...), organic food, etc...


> So you can fall victim to the protester's propaganda instead of the mainstream news propaganda?

Placing personal experiences and sufferings in the same basket as state/capital-sponsored propaganda and smear campaigns tells a lot about your worldview.

> It requires some amount of detachment to see the flaws in their ideas.

Or enough privilege to not feel directly threatened by their genocidal agenda.

> The things is: individual groups know why they are upset, but the movement itself is all over the place.

Agreed. Though i'm not sure it's a bad thing. That's the essence of a popular movement, compared to a top-down mobilization with a clear agenda imposed by a restricted group of people.

> more immigration control

WTF? I've never met people in yellow vests protests arguing for more immigration control.

If anything, there is convergence with anti-racist initiatives such as sans-papiers collectives, the gilets noirs, the Justice & Truth for Adama collective..

Sure, there's fringe groups of royalist/fascist movements trying to infiltrate the gilets jaunes with such agenda, but claiming the movement as a whole is even considering this is highly misguided.


  This is so pedantic! Of course
  people know why they're angry.
Let's the gilets jaunes protests were so fantastically successful that Macron decided to completely concede.

Is there a set of policies he could adopt that would mean every protester agreed all their demands had been met?


> Is there a set of policies he could adopt that would mean every protester agreed all their demands had been met?

Well everybody's got more or less specific demands. But for sure, if everybody in France could have housing and food on the table, there wouldn't be mass protests/riots as we have had for over a decade now.

I'm not even saying "decent" housing or "organic" food although it is important to me. People would be happy with basic services they don't have at the moment.

Everybody sees on the TV or in the streets rich people spending hundreds or thousands of euros in fancy restaurants and clubs while ~10% of the population lives in extreme poverty and struggles to feed the children.

There's 3 million ABANDONED housing units (not counting secondary housing) for 150K homeless people, yet the government and landowners pretend there is a housing crisis.

These are just two examples that would satisfy everyone within and without the gilets jaunes movement. That's not enough to build a fair society, but that would arguably make life more bearable.


> This is so pedantic! Of course people know why they're angry.

I've yet to see a single yellow vest giving an articulated speech about why things are bad and how to fix them. You don't go far by screaming "this thing is broken I'll burn things until someone fixes it"

> And the climate crisis. And education reforms promising even more brainless indoctrination. And the National Universal Service which is a nicer name for militarist/fascist propaganda aimed at children. And racist anti-immigration laws in which Macron doubled the maximum retention time for undocumented people (45->90 days). And police violence destroying the sense of community in whole districts. And health care workers slowly being pushed to suicide by an administration that wants to close down public hospitals to ensure a new economy for private health.

Welcome to capitalism, have a seat while we fuck the world up.

> Burning rich people's shit is literally the most peaceful we can do in times like these, given the pace at which they're killing us.

What's the real plan though ? What happens after "burning rich peoples' shit" ? Nothing, because yellow vests don't want to get into politics, and not getting into politics means they're just screaming and burning shit until they're bored of doing that. The 60s were much better in that regard because thinkers still existed back then with people like Vaneigem or Debord.

> yet has ~10% extreme poverty,

The difference is that if you're poor in the US you live in a tent in skidrow [0] or the like, if you're poor in France you get a (shitty) flat and enough money to eat and dress yourself, you can still go to school and get medical treatments, &c. And btw most EU country have higher poverty % than France. [1] The question isn't really how many people are poor but how do you treat them.

> very similar in some regards to the USA.

I don't think you're being fair here. Public pensions and public healthcare puts France miles ahead of the US (and most other countries) for the average citizen. And that's not even taking into account vacations days, min wages, mandatory holidays, working hours, unions, parental leaves, retirement age, police brutality, &c. The US is only a better place if you're in the top 10%.

> Representative democracy is the structure that failed us in the first place. Never again: we won't stop fighting until we have a direct democracy without a ruling oligarchy.

Tell me how the US is better again ?

Sure we can do better, we always can, but look around, besides maybe Switzerland and a few northern countries, which are doing slightly better in some aspects, I don't think France as anything to complain about.

[0] https://99percentinvisible.org/episode/the-containment-plan/

[1] http://www.lefigaro.fr/economie/le-scan-eco/dessous-chiffres...


This reads like outrageous satire...

Edit:

"And we still do! Nobody can represent anybody else. Representative democracy is the structure that failed us in the first place."

"The truth is France is far behind much of the world in terms of social advances."

"Burning rich people's shit is literally the most peaceful we can do in times like these, given the pace at which they're killing us."

Not saying that there's no issue in France, far from that. Not saying either the yellow vests protests is unwarranted, far from that. But going to the point of those 3 excerpts is ridiculous in the context of France and a typical case for dismissal of the whole.


The French got yellow vests, the UK got Brexit - for roughly similar reasons


I wouldn't say they're similar. Brexit was because people lost faith in the leadership of the EU, mostly due to the migrant crisis, which is still ongoing years later. The Yellow vests are more analogous to Occupy Wall Street.


People were told the EU was the cause of all their problems, obviously it's not.

Migration is one of the bigger issues, but it's not the EU that waved the limits on migration in the early 2000s when Poland and the other eastern European countries joined, that was New Labour.

It's not the EU that fails to enforce the rules that are available to remove EU migrants. All you hear about in the press are the occasions where some regulation stopped a person being deported (likely for a good reason).

Brexit is a combination of nationalist propaganda and a scapegoat for the Tories and New Labour to blame the inequality they created on someone other than themselves.

It's sad that so many of the people that will loose the most from Brexit (should it happen) fail to see this.


Not really. The migrant crisis and anti EU sentiment was far more DailyMail and Telegraph generated (usually fake) outrage. The EU actually had a long running blog to refute and disprove UK press pieces on the EU: Always the Sun, Mail, and Torygraph.

The Brexit voting areas were, in the vast majority, the areas that had suffered from post-80s deindustrialisation, neglect, being ignored for 40 years by Westminster who brought no real regeneration, and a system that's become increasingly SE heavy and centralised. So local councils can no longer do much substantive without Westminster approval.

It felt far more about kicking the powers that be than any real anti EU loss of faith. After 40 years of getting the shit end of the stick, that was perfectly understandable. Wrong target, but understandable and deserving of sympathy. The political class that let them down wanted remain, vote leave.

Sure, UK has often been lukewarm on some aspects of Europe. Until Cameron had the bright idea of the referendum to put the Tory right wing back in the box, then whipped it up into outrage, it was mostly something to talk and joke about. Lost faith in the bullshit claims and spin during the campaign, certainly. No deal was explicitly ruled out...


Lost faith AND were played upon by clever ads & propaganda that tipped the vote in favor of Brexit.


Considering all the establishment propaganda, from posh media, celebrities, politicians, Brussels, etc, about how Brexit is analogous to economic ruin, mass destruction, the Brexit propaganda was like 1/10th the size.

And it didn't have the means to be much more: the state, the "City", the corporations, Brussels, the BBC, the celebs, and the mainstream media all pushed for Bremain...


Both sides had ads and propaganda, but it seemed like the anti-Brexit side was much more aggressive. The front page of reddit was swarmed with posts about how Brexit would be the end of the world and that anyone who votes leave is literally a Nazi controlled by Putin and yadda yadda yadda.


Yes the remain campaign had hyperbole (though far less than Leave imo, "Easier deal in history?", " We won't be leaving without a deal." etc.), but it's getting within touching distance right now with the current Tory government advocating no deal.


"Both sides"... no.

Let's stop downplaying what happened there and in the US: a similar, unethical & careful PSYOP teasing legitimate popular concerns to tip the vote toward a result that breaks the stability of the West.

The result being: - both US & UK are shit shows at the time being; - everyone else caring, spending time to adjust to/circumvent that, and/or to wait for these countries to get their together again; - while doing that, they don't have time/resources to watch/care after other issues, which is ... surprinsingly, quite convenient for some other countries.


>Let's stop downplaying what happened there and in the US: a similar, unethical & careful PSYOP teasing legitimate popular concerns to tip the vote toward a result that breaks the stability of the West.

Actually let's stop altering what happened in the UK and in the US (and in France).

The masses, after 40+ years (beginning with Reagan and Thatcher) of getting the short end of the stick,

increased globalization and loss of domestic worker jobs (which the Left once, especially in Britain, was much protective of),

and the left (using the term loosely for people like Clinton, Blair, and co) and right elites agreeing on business as usual on everything that matters (including corporatism, trillion dollar bank bailouts, and war) and peddling token social/religious issues to divert their ever impoverished working class voters, while having pundits and specialists telling people who've seen their jobs and cities destroyed how they had it "better than ever",

decided to go off the rails and vote for a populist "bring jobs back, stop globalization, reduce imperialism wars" candidate in the US, and a "fuck EU imposed laws and German economic leadership, let's have a sovereign Britain again" brexit, or take it to the streets in France.

The 10% of well of "good hearts", who were never affected all those years, and probably have it better than ever indeed, consider them deplorables, unwashed masses, etc, wonder why the masses don't just "eat cake" and get on with the program, to let their favorite politicians continue business as usual, and of course are certain that they know better and everybody else

Unable to understand their defeat, those bleeding hearts, blame it on some inconsequential villainy on the part of Russia, on some BS "collusion", on the masses voting "against their own interests", and whatever other straw they can grasp...

They are the same people who consider a president who helped destroy 5 countries and turn them into hell-holes of civil war and fundamentalism a Nobel peace prize award winning good person, and another who tried to withdraw from 2 wars, de-escalated and met with the S.K, and acknowledged that the real competition to the US in the 21st century is China in trade, as a bad person (because he has no manners and tweets random BS, which, as we all know, is what's really important in a politician).

In the end everybody votes based on their wallets, and the 10% (and an additional percentage who feeds of them) never had reason to disturb the status quo.


US, UK & France situations are different. Widely. Each with their own issues. But every issue can be spun, let's say... elegantly. As you do. Amazingly.

I did not mention Russia. If that were a country, it could mean several other countries too.

I did not blame it on only manipulation, but on manipulation based on existing tensions & facts. That does not excuse the past 40 years of political morass of course. But that does not excuse populists lying and twisting this situation for their own interest - and certainly not the people's: see where the US & UK are today.

As for UK & France "masses", for the past 40 years, we have lived in _peace_ on our homeland, contrary to the few centuries before. Not by accident.

As for the rest, you can have it way harder than others and still consider populism, racism, mysoginism and cronyism supporters as "deplorables". They still are.

Tagging Trump as "has no manners and tweets random BS" is the least you could do. He's not bad only, he is a stain on US history. Not only does he lacks manners... I don't even know where to end if we go down this hole. The only thing he doesn't lack is ego. To the point it's embarrassing. Not only for him, but also for the future of the institutions and the nation that his role makes him supposed to protect. As well as the people that let him have his ways from the get go.


>US, UK & France situations are different. Widely. Each with their own issues.

Yes, and some of those issues are more common. Thatcher and Reagan for example, started the same big money / fuck working class policies at about the same time. The "left" parties similarly diluted their support for common folks and criticism of corporatism and got into warmongering and business as usual in both countries (e.g. Clinton, Blair, to today's TINA stars).

>I did not mention Russia

Sure, but many did so I addressed that too. I was giving the bigger picture as I see it of the situation, not addressing solely what you wrote.

>As for UK & France "masses", for the past 40 years, we have lived in _peace_ on our homeland, contrary to the few centuries before. Not by accident.

No, because UK and France had become less significant post-WWII, lost most of their colonial slaves, that span half the earth, and US and USSR became the dominant top dogs fighting each other.

Plus Germany was for half a century after WWII split into two, given to different countries to nanny, and deprived of an army -- precisely to avoid more wars in Europe.

So it would make no sense for UK and France to fight, as the stakes were low. When those were powerhouses, fighting for global expansion/dominance, sure it made sense. In the past 40+ years it makes no more sense than Luxembourg and Finland fighting.

US and USSR did fight a lot, had the whole Cold War thing, and tons of wars by proxy all around the world. Same way US and China today are at tension.

>As for the rest, you can have it way harder than others and still consider populism, racism, mysoginism and cronyism supporters as "deplorables". They still are.

Well, there's a long history of the good souls on the top towers of society looking down on the unwashed "Morlocks", and patting themselves in the back for how better they are.

Part of this is because most middle class/upper middle class people learn from a young age to consider a person's worth by their net worth, clothes, manners, school they went to, and so on, and those deplorables don't cut it.

(Of course the poor black, latinos, muslims, immigrants, etc, cut it even less, and are usually even more misogynist, homophobic, etc than the flyover state deplorables, but they're not usually classified as belonging to them. They vote the right way, plus, it's not like the bleeding hearts who "care" for them really care. They just want to signal their higher virtue to the rest of the whites.).

The funny thing is that the upper classes consider the "deplorables" as lesser persons, because they haven't adopted the intellectual fashions, that they themselves just got recently (a few decades ago, all the same "refined" classes were themselves openly anti-gay, misogynist and had no problem with it, in fact in the 70s and 80s you couldn't be in "good" society without be such).



"The leaflet suggests prices could rise and EU exit would lead to a decade of uncertainty"

Looking like a fairly accurate prediction then, so far. How's Sterling doing? How are the government's just released Yellow Hammer predictions compared to that gentle warning in the leaflet?



Yes.


Technically France said no to the EU in 2005, but the government ignored it. If the country would have been a (semi) direct democracy, or the government would have acted on the wish of the people at the time we would be talking about Frexit instead of Brexit.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/2005_French_European_Constit...


In that last paragraph you forgot to mention Robespierre and the following Napoleonic restoration;)


> public transports must be designed to transport not only pedestrians but their bikes too.

If we are talking about metro transportation, and not intercity trains and such, I strongly disagree. A bike takes up the space of multiple standing people, is dirty and hard and is not easily moved during an emergency where a stampede is a very real risk. Bicycles belong in bike parking, which there should be plenty of, but you can take public transportation between parkings. Bringing everybody's bikes on a tram or metro train during rush hour in a city of any meaningful size is a bad idea.


Devil's advocate: The same could be said for a baby buggy. Filthy things, taking up all that space. Noisy too! And those inconsiderate people with their luggage trying to get the airport. And don't get me started on old people with their zimmer frames.

Me speaking: So where do you draw the line? On your personal preferences or where the outcome achieves the goal? ie. getting more people to stop using their cars. Bicycles are already allowed on most suburban London trains, but are sometimes limited during rush hour. It's a win-win for everyone without having an outright ban.

(I apologise for weird response, but couldn't find a better way to get my point across.)


> Devil's advocate: The same could be said for a baby buggy.

I don't disagree with you, but I can be more sympathetic to the need for a baby buggy over that of a bike, because there aren't baby buggy parkings, and it's a lot harder to move your baby back and forth than it is to park a bike. The same goes for your semi-absurd comparison with zimmer frames -- obviously senior citizens have a place in public transportation and they need to be catered to. It's not the same thing as the convenience of not having to park your bike and walking.

> Bicycles are already allowed on most suburban London trains, but are sometimes limited during rush hour. It's a win-win for everyone without having an outright ban.

I already explicitly said "If we are talking about metro transportation, and not intercity trains and such" -- meaning I also recognize the need to transport bikes on "suburban trains", but for inter-city transportation with sufficient bike parking I don't see the need to cater for bikes on trains seeing the negative downsides they bring.

Also, baby buggies are already prohibited in many metro systems, and I have never advocated them to be anything else. There are better ways to transport your baby around, such as an on-body baby carrier.


In my city’s bus system baby buggies and bicycles have 0 priority. If you live in a city you really should have a collapsible one. But if you do bring one aboard a packed bus the most will get is a scorned look. Basically, no one wants to be the one to kick a parent and child off the bus.

Bicyclists on the other hand have no excuse and get no compassion. If the bike rack is full you wait for the next bus.


> (I apologise for weird response, but couldn't find a better way to get my point across.)

I see it perfectly fit to get you point across. Will copy method in the future when necesarry


> Bringing everybody's bikes on a tram or metro train during rush hour...

Everybody's? You're awfully misrepresenting how it works in practice.

As someone who lived in Amsterdam, I've never experienced more than like five people doing that. There's a special section in each cart that can fit like two or three bikes. If they're taken, you wait for the next metro on your line. Too many bikes want to go in? Increase the bike ticket to reduce that number. Scared about rush hours? Ban them during rush hours, not all the time.

It exists as an option (as it should), but that option is far from being used by everyone.


> There's a special section in each cart that can fit like two or three bikes.

That's a clever design!


In Copenhagen's Metro, bikes are not permitted during rush hour. They are at other times of the day, but require an additional ticket. The S-Train, which spreads out into the suburban area, bikes are free to bring aboard, and allowed during all hours of the day. Except one train station (Nørreport) during rush hour.

In my experience, that works out well.


In the Netherlands you can't take bikes on trains during rush hour either (officially - you're likely to get away with it).


Bike on a bus doesn't necessarily mean a bike in the bus. See https://www.vicroads.vic.gov.au/traffic-and-road-use/cycling... for external bike racks.


In other words: let's just keep using cars? Cars are already more convenient than taking a bike on a train, metro or bus. Without this possibility, however, you're saying that cars are the only thing we have.


Cars are convenient to the user because their externalities (noise, pollution, inefficient use of space) only affect those people on the streets who don't use cars.


They affect car users too, but those seem to view these problems as a force of nature, e.g., "the parking is so bad here" vs. "there are too many people like me who consciously decided to try to park here".


>Cars are convenient to the user because their externalities (noise, pollution, inefficient use of space) only affect those people on the streets who don't use cars.

If cars magically made no noise or pollution would demand drop?

I can see some substance behind the assertion that their use of space is what makes cars convenience but saying that people like them because they make noise and pollute is just needlessly extremist.


Moving people through town one by one and 20 feet apart burning 95% of the fuel just to move the vehicle is not efficient. Busses cram like 60 people in the space of 2-3 cars on the road and with a per person mpg of over 300.


I'm not saying it's a good idea, but don't forget that these bikes may reduce other nuisance. If this could reduce traffic, pollution, noise in the city centers, it could be worth it.


In Tokyo bikes are not permitted unless fully wrapped (packed).

In my opinion if you need bike+bus combination its is better to use city bike instead of dragging your personal bike.


City bikes don't really work often. Lack of availability usually means you can't rely on them to get anywhere on time during the day.


Actually the Netherlands already offers an alternative of a bike that is cheap that you can rent at most train stations by swiping your travel card. Usually very fast and simple. And also people who commute constantly like this can leave a bike locked at the station they commute to.

The key point is (while avoiding as much inconvenience as possible) - that everyone should be able to complete the journeys they need to complete - the fact you need to move luggage / a bike / a pram... That shouldn't be an exception / excuse / reason for car or taxi.

My favorite part of the Netherlands bike on trains system, is the ticket for your bike is more expensive than renting one of theirs at a station. That is deliberate. Reduce bikes on trains, but not the option of biking the last mile.


I’ve been taking my skateboard on public transport and its been a boon for me. You cut walking time in half which is huge, and I can stick it in between my legs on a cramped bus and take up no more space than if I didn’t have it. My neighborhood is pretty flat and skateable, but if you had more hills the electric skateboard market is pretty saturated now with a lot of deals second hand.


Most Dutch people who use a bike as part of their transit routine leave it at a station. It's common to have one bike at home and another bike at a station near your work.

You ride your first bike to the station, get on the public transit, then ride your second bike to work. Then there's no need to take your bike on public transit.


Any example of the Dutch bike experience ignore the most important fact: it's flat! Add hills and bikes are a lot less viable for the masses.

Electric bikes help flatten out the landscape, but they're currently too expensive to leave lying around and require charging etc.


I think the Dutch bike experience is the result of a conscious decision to make cycling feel safe and convenient which was partly motivated by the 1970's fuel crisis. The real puzzle is why is this the only country make that decision. See also http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/2009/10/effect-of-hills...


Thanks that's an interesting link. I think it backs up what I'm saying though, even with a fantastic cycling infrastructure, hills half the number of trips by bike.


And the public transport bikes you can hire for a couple of euro per 24hr are very popular. This way you can do the last part of your journey easily without taking you're own bike on the train. (This is actually cheaper as well, since the price of renting the bike is lower than the price of bringing your own bike on the train)


That's a great way to get your bike stolen. Not only that, it's also quite significant additional cost, because now you have to buy and maintain two bikes. At that point, why not just take a car?


Not everywhere has a high theft rate and one can insure a bicycle. Cars need fuel, usually gas/diesel, but sometimes electric, and the costs to maintain is much higher.

Besides, if you do get in a pinch, you can roll your bike with you while you walk in many cases. In the cases where you cannot, you can usually leave it locked somewhere and fetch it later on. You can do this in ways that you cannot in a car.

Besides, a bicycle only takes a portion of the materials to make a car - even two of them only take a portion. It is still friendlier.


In a society where bike use is much more common, the risk to have a bike stolen is diminished by diffusing it among a higher number of bike users. Also, bike locks are a thing. Larger train stations also sometimes have dedicated bike storage facilities with CCTV and security personnel, which makes that threat even less likely. Also, bike insurances are a thing and they don't cost that much. Certainly much much less than the cost for a car insurance. (And that's before you take into account all the externalities of cars that are not correctly priced into their ownership.)


Bike locks are generally irrelevant. If people can't steal the entire bike (which they usually can despite the lock) they can take off most of the parts - the tires, saddle, handlebars etc (whatever you have not wrapped in a lock).


Pretty much all locks are like that: Some determined folks will take a work-around or take what they can. But they also do what a lock is supposed to do: they deter crimes of opportunity. You bike is no longer as easy to steal as the unlocked bike.

Bike insurance can cover the rest of the bike.


The bikes are not very expensive, you can buy them second hand for about 100-150 EUR. And what do you have to maintain in a simple bike? Just adjust air pressure every couple of month and that's all.

Owning a car in Amsterdam is crazy expensive due to parking. For example, the parking costs at my office is about 500 EUR/month (only to park during workdays between 7AM-7PM)


Oil the chain, change and check the breakpads, check for rust on components, check tires for pressure, check break cables and probably much more.


Dutch bikes a cheap. They don't have a gear... no kidding.


I guess this is true. The bike being a fixie does make it cheaper.


Yes. Mountains are as hard to find there as the Yeti.


Honestly, I'd happily ride a bike there because it is so flat.

Trondheim (Norway), on the other hand, has a hill with a bike lift. Just one, though. The rest you have to pedal. I, the immigrant, still find it amazing folks ride bikes with studded tires on the snow, let alone manage the terrain. I usually just walk.


I think that last mile vehicles also have a place to play in that regard.

Things like a onewheel pint, a scooter or a boosted board.

Truth be told, in places like Paris, the only case where I would need one of these is when my move is not helped by the subway : the lines tend to go from the center of the city to its outer limits, so if you are move on the city limits, you might have to first go back to its center. For most of the cases, the subway is good enough.

In US cities though, last mile vehicles have been a must for me.


Can't you just walk the last mile?


yeah that's what I have been doing in Paris. Subway stations are rarely more than 5 minutes from where you want to go (with the caveats cited above)

But in cities like SF, the public transportation system is so underwhelming, I just use a last mile vehicle to do my 1.5 mile commute.

This way I go from 25 minutes to 10 minutes of commute.


If you can go twice as fast, there are four times as many homes within 10 minutes of the station


I get the last mile isn't literal but I think many use the lack of transport facilities as an excuse and forget about walking.


> Although in this and other cases the free bus plan is chiefly motivated by the need to fight poverty (remember that the yellow vest movement started over a fuel price raise)

There is no need to make it free for all if that's the goal.

I think the main goal really is to encourage people to use public transport as much as possible.

> public transports must be designed to transport not only pedestrians but their bikes too.

Yes for folding bikes, but standard bikes are too big.


> In Amsterdam for instance, most trains/trams/busses would have a dedicated place where to put bikes

Does that include city buses? In Denmark, it's about the same, except city buses have no room for bikes. Coaches - i.e. buses between cities - do.


You can't take bikes on buses, and only a very small number of teams allow bikes too, and that's in off peak times.

I don't see why someone would take a bike on bus/tram because, you could ride all all the same thanks to the flat roads.

Those ferries north of central station are free for everyone and you can take bikes for free too.


Large fleets of Bird-style rental vehicles like bikes, scooters, etc should mitigate this.


Maybe of the fleet is actually large, but from what I've seen, there isn't enough during peak times. Peak times are the times you want to get somewhere on time. You can't rely on these options.


yeah, and then the city buses aren't carrying around extra weight taking up volume for a bunch of bikes.


A skateboard works even better if you are using transit imo. Twice as fast as walking and you can stick it in between your legs on a crowded bus.


There is barely space for bikes in trains, even in NL.


I don't know of a single person who _buys a car_ because the bus is too expensive. I think you're being a little unrealistic.


Prices of transportation are already bottom low. Saving $80 more a month is not enough of an incentive imo, especially when you already pay for an extra 200 or 300 for having the privilege to drive a car.

Those decisions just raise pollution by induction: my transport is cheaper, so I take it more. It does not convert people over. A bit like giving free moviepass: it doesn't impact Netflix bottom line, but people who used to go to the movies go more often while paying less.


Not enough of an incentive for who? 80$/month is like a quarter of what a lot of people get when they're unemployed over here in Western Europe. It makes a massive amount of difference. Those people don't have cars.

But more infrastructure for the non-cars means gradually, cars make less and less sense to own. Again, Western Europe. These are countries where the cities are fine to live and work in without a vehicle.


I agree it's a lot of money for some! If you have a RSA (min revenue without working for our international friends), you already don't pay for transport anyway... Please check https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gratuit%C3%A9_des_transports_e... if you can read french.


Just nitpicking here. Around half of the people eligible for RSA in France do not get it.

The administrative process is willingly complicated and requires an address, which is very hard to come by when you're out on the streets.

Also, receiving RSA means you actively have to look for a job, ANY JOB. They will often force you to take a bullshit job outside of your field, that will make your life project (small business, or non-profit activities) unreachable. If you don't accept, they'll cut the money which is already not enough to just pay one-room rent in big cities.

That's for the people who are eligible. Then, there's many others. RSA is only for documented people (contrary to CMU/AME for minimum medical services) and does not apply to people under age 25 unless they meet some very strict condition. That's why France has an epidemics of very young people living on the streets.

So yes, saving 50-100€ on transports every month can make a big difference for millions of people. Especially considering the last governments passed laws to enforce harsh repression against those who can't pay their tickets: 5 unpaid tickets in a year now mandates prison time, how crazy is that?


My food budget has been around $80/month before. Saving that much on transportation would have been wonderful.

And I don't see how free transport makes folks take transport more. People still need to have places to go to, after all, which generally cost money.


Getting rid of payment support is big saving tho.


That, and the surveillance apparatus which is aimed at catching free-riders.

In most french cities, these systems (and their maintenance) actually cost more than the money brought by selling tickets.


In Missoula our bus system has been free for the last 4 years. I love it. It’s a simple way to help those that need it most, and it makes mass transit easier and faster for everyone. A combination of government and local businesses fund it. https://missoulian.com/news/local/mountain-line-bus-rides-to...


If you want this where you live and people are telling you it costs too much ask them to itemize the cost of the fare gathering machinery, all the accounting and cash handling/data processing, the cost of enforcement etc., and then subtract all that from the budget.

Don't listen to any other arguments until they come back with numbers. Oftentimes when you ask a difficult question people try to move onto an easier one, but don't let them. It'll help you grind down the opposition much faster.


Not sure how it's going to help you win any argument. Overwhelming majority of cost is wages and benefits of the employees, and right after that it's fleet amortization and fuel costs. Fare gathering costs are minuscule compared to this. See for example breakdown for Seattle bus system: http://metro.kingcounty.gov/am/reports/2014/metro-transit-fi...


So that shows fares bring in about $150 million a year. Spread that across the 2 million people living in King County and that's $75 a year for free transit. I feel like that would be a pretty easy sell (considering at $3.25/day for transit you already top that in 30 days regularly) -- especially considering ST3 passed and increased taxes by $300 per year per taxpayer.

Edit: Even if you ride the bus only 20 times a year this saves you money. Not to mention it would likely increase usage and stop delays.


If everyone rode the bus 20 times a year, we'd need much more buses, and the cost would rise correspondingly. Today, with fare at $2.75, and farebox recovery of 27%, the cost averages out to $10/ride. That means that for only 20 times a year, you'd need to raise taxes by $200, not $75. Fortunately, most people don't ever ride a bus, so us Seattle taxpayers who subsidize 73% of the cost of the bus system, have much smaller system to support. If more people used it, the cost would be correspondingly higher.

The whole problem here is that it is simply very expensive to run buses, per actual ride. Operational costs of a King County Metro buses is ~$150 an hour. With $2.75 fare, you'd practically need to run them crammed full at all times to break even. In reality, buses only get ever fully packed on a handful of routes, and even then only twice a day.

And, ST3 passed, but only barely. I don't think it would have passed today if we got to vote on it again.


To be fair you must balance it against the costs to administer paying for the "free" service, i.e. cost of collections via taxes or whatever, allocation of resources via some contingent of petty bureaucrats, disbursement via whatever system of adminstrators that are required to keep the books, and enforcement to guard against cronyism, cooking the books and other sorts of corruption.


French public transports are already greatly financed by public money. Then, in many regions, employers have to pay a contribution to the transport infrastructure, usually around half the monthly price of their employees' transport bills.

Making transports free to end-users actually saves a lot of money by removing all these layers of bureaucracy and control.

No need for barriers, repairpeople to fix the ticket machines, and security guards to beat the hell out of people who can't pay.


But you already have all of that, since public transport is usually subsidized to some degree.


‘Private’ vehicles are subsidised too. You get a a road paved to where you’re going. You get maintenance, bridges, tunnels, intersections, signs, policing, courts, ambulances, fire trucks, lighting, parking (when free).

Cars are a massive transfer of public land to private usage. The cost of this needs to be factored in too.


I believe we are in violent agreement.


Oh but you know it all change when a new lump comes in: a new office of collection must be created, temptation to use it to fund something else must be constantly fought, and 2 years later everyone even forgot why this tax was in in the first place.

The tax is nice to try, but what's best for laws like that is to remember they are trials, and we should be honest in accepting it's more expensive for everyone to pay a cheap tax than paying more for each transport, however weird it sounds at first.


You'll also have to account for the money saved that you no longer have to spend operating the ticket machines or have people patrol the public transports and checking for tickets. That alone should be tens of thousands of euros saved.


Tens of thousands of euros saved is pretty much cost of running one extra bus for a year. So no, I don't think it's going to make a huge difference.


An extra bus can carry a lot of people. It could cover parts of the city not well covered by other routes.


My college town's (~60k people) bus system was free for everyone to use, paid for by an extra charge on the water bill. The biggest benefit of course is not having to pay, but a close second was the time savings from not having to fiddle with money. The system ran a lot smoother because of this.

I would say this extra tax is a good thing, and I'm not at all a fan of taxes.


Why ? Taxes are great when they are fair, well spent, and seriously monitored, both for corruption abuse and undue/unbearable increase.

Paying the bus or a tax is the same thing for you if it's well done, but then as you said: it's more convenient, when you're in trouble one month you'll still be able to use the transport, tourists benefit from it, and last but not least, crazy poor people can have a chance to move around freely...


> Why ?

Because you don't get to decide whether you think it's worth it or not.

If the bus is too expensive, you can walk, or cycle, or use a car, or just not go on the journey. If the tax is too expensive, you have no recourse, you have to pay it anyway.

And "if the tax is too expensive then write to your local politician" is not an answer. Even if I'm the only person in the world who thinks the bus is too expensive, I still have the option not to use the bus. But if I'm the only person in the world who thinks the tax is too expensive, too bad, I just have to pay it.


> Even if I'm the only person in the world who thinks the bus is too expensive, I still have the option not to use the bus. But if I'm the only person in the world who thinks the tax is too expensive, too bad, I just have to pay it.

And the reason is that you accrue benefits of a free bus system even if you never ride the bus. For instance, if you choose to drive, you'll have a lot less traffic and more parking available, and probably for a cheaper price, because the other people will be riding the bus. Better bus systems means more mobility for poorer workers, which means better quality employees in the shops you see downtown. By making it easier for poor people to get jobs, it makes it less likely for people to fall off the edge and become homeless, meaning fewer homeless people in your downtown area; which in turn means lower cost for police, health, and social services, which means lower crime / better service for you.

Now, maybe you don't care about those benefits, or maybe you don't think your taxes will achieve all those benefits. But if most of the people in your city do think that, then it's fair for them to expect you to pay your share.


Sometimes paying for services that you don't use has unseen benefits to parts of your life and the wider community. Consistently well funded services can develop institutional knowledge and allow greater dissemenation of the fruits of labour.


> Even if I'm the only person in the world who thinks the bus is too expensive, I still have the option not to use the bus. But if I'm the only person in the world who thinks the tax is too expensive, too bad, I just have to pay it.

Moreover, consider this:

> If I'm the only person in the [city] who thinks wide streets and highways for cars are too expensive, too bad, I still have to pay it.

Streets and traffic lights and parking spaces and traffic enforcement and all the infrastructure needed for cars aren't free; your car ride into the city is being subsidized. If it's not fair for you to subsidize bus-riders, why is it fair for bus-riders to subsidize you?


> If the bus is too expensive, you can walk, or cycle, or use a car, or just not go on the journey

A citizen deciding not to take the bus makes the bus less efficient in some ways too.


> Because you don't get to decide whether you think it's worth it or not.

Welcome to Socialism as Bernie Sanders wrongly calls us Swedes.

You pay for a "package" of benefits, you don't use all of them all of the time but on average everyone is happy.


> Taxes are great when they are fair, well spent, and seriously monitored

Which rarely happens in my opinion.


In city where i live, most people just buy yearly pass, so no need to fiddle with money even if it is not free.


Compiegne?


What was old is new again. Plenty of European towns and cities tried schemes like this in the late '60s/early '70s. Most of them eventually floundered under financial pressures. In my UK area, a selected few bus routes are currently free; they are the first item on the chopping block at every spending review, and it takes effort to defend them. Schoolbuses here have just been downsized to save some money.

This is not meant to discount the effort - better public transport helps everyone, even people who don't use it (by reducing congestion). I'm just skeptical that it will last, without a serious acceptance that something else will have to give in the local budget, or taxes will have to go up.


Note, those financial pressures were entirely imposed. If the UK hadn't been forced to become so centralised - both politically and financially, perhaps some UK cities and towns could be trying these things.

The ridiculous thing in the UK case is the Tory reforms permitted London transport to keep their subsidy, but elsewhere must survive without. The one place not needing subsidy should be London. Even with the return of trams, the regional public transport networks are a fraction of what they once were, and nearly all routes are markedly more than London prices. Yet the need is very clearly there.


I was actually looking at Italy, but I agree with you that the UK situation outside London is particularly shocking.


Ah, having mentioned UK in part, I thought the whole was UK related. A similar attitude has infected many places since the 80s, it's just the UK and US have repeatedly led that charge.


>they are the first item on the chopping block at every spending review

That wouldn't be because the existence of these programs is absolutely antithetical to a certain side in politics, would it?


I really dislike cars and they way they dominate our lives and environments.

I've talked to local government reps about schemes like this, and the challenge that's always thrown back at me is without pricing, how do you regulate demand?

Currently, you normally pay a scaled fee based on distance of journey for public transort. The minimum is quite high, and that prevents you from taking a short trip. With free, how do you stop people using a bus for very short trips meaning you need more vehicles that are then empty for long trips?


This isn't an exact reply to your question but ---

In London we have a 'fare hopper' system for the busses. £1.50 and you can take as many trips as you like within an hour. Or you could stay on the bus for the entire day (if you really wanted too) and just go round and round and it would only cost you the initial £1.50.

So the cost doesn't scale with your journey time/length, and if you're popping to the shops or somewhere nearish you can often make the return trip within the hour and you only get charged the first £1.50.

Very rarely is the distance travelled short enough that £1.50 feels like an over charge or lack of value.

I guess my point is, £1.50 isn't quite free - but it is low enough that it encourages use of busses. Once the initial fee is paid, within an hour any extra trips are free. It works brilliantly.

The issue of 'how do you discourage short trips' is a non-issue based on my experience of how the busses work in London, imo. It would be an interesting case study to put infront of those who think regulating demand is the blocker here.


£1.50 is about what it costs me here (the grim north) to go around 3 miles. If you only wanted to go one stop, you wouldn't pay £1.50, but if it was free you might take the bus. This is the response from the bus people when I've discussed it with them, how do you prevent that kind of activity? They can't service one stop riders.

I suggested making the stops further apart!


People have moaned to me about London’s public transport. I thought it was excellent. I used a credit card and if it hit a level of usage where it would have been cheaper to have bought a day pass, it just charged that as a maximum. It was fast, trains and busses were frequent and seemed inexpensive relative to the value I got. I were very impressed.


I was surprised to find that Miami Beach has free trolleys and Hollywood (CA) has a free nighttime (weekend?) shuttle as well here in the US.


Seattle used to have free transit downtown. I'm not sure how much of it was about moving people around, and how much was just to move people around faster by not requiring them to go through the payment process. The free rides are over now. Literally.

When I lived in Seattle, and outside Seattle, I was always impressed that Sound Transit lived up to its mandate as a transit agency, and not a revenue source. Its mission was to move people around. To that end, if you didn't have any money (forgot your wallet, too drunk to remember where you left your Orca card, too poor to pay, etc...) the bus drivers would give you zero hassle and let you board.

In contrast, I can't count the number of times I've seen clearly poor people kicked off of the buses in Chicago because they couldn't afford to pay. That just seems wrong. There should be some sort of income line below which you are entitled to free public transit.


Do you mean Sound Transit (inter-city/county bus service) or Metro (king county)? I can’t imagine sound transit buses being that lenient at all, metro buses on the other hand could be.

Downtown Seattle has gone down hill since the 90s/00s. It used to be a nice place to shop and do stuff, but the last time I was downtown there was hardly anything to do beyond tourist traps. I guess a lot of this is amazon destroying in person retail, ironically enough.


The free rides are over now. Literally.

Yes, Seattle discontinued its mobile homeless shelter program.


And now their homelessness problem is over?


No, but now you can actually take a bus to downtown and not inhale piss vapors.


Was this actually an issue?


It was definitely common for homeless and mentally ill people to be on the free ride buses, but I don’t know if I’d say it was a primary reason it was cancelled. Seemed more about costs.


Baltimore and DC have free buses called "circulators". There was a story that the buses are losing money but would lose more money if they charged because they're getting grants for being free and have ads which would be worth less with lower ridership.


Interesting, since they used to charge!

I suspect they also make some of the money "back" from people taking the bus to/from a Metro (subway) stop, where you now have to buy a ticket since you no longer have a transfer.


Yeah, downtown has the metro mover... you can move between most of the downtown area without a car.


Mainly in tourist areas. Yosemite valley has feee shuttles too.


Emeryville does as well, primarily during commute hours.


I would gladly pay a large high-income tax to get an amazing transit system. Something like a 5% tax on income between 100 and 200k would probably do it.


For Dunkirk, I believe the shops, restaurants,... now pay more tax to sustain the free transports. It’s better than taxing individuals because everybody wins: residents have more money to spend, shops pay more taxes but they now have more customers who are now richer.


But that also means higher prices in the shops and restaurants. This makes markets outside of the city more competitive. Eg order from Amazon instead of buying from a local store.


Not necessary. If you can sell more stuff, then you can make the same profit with lower profit margin per item.


yeah I'm going to buy a quiche lorraine off amazon and serve it to my date


Yeah, I think this would not be a bad solution. Public transit, once it’s built with sufficient coverage, is a lot cheaper and more effective than private transport. I think it would also make sense to fund it via land value taxes since usually land captures a lot of the value that public transportation generates


Public transit, once it’s built with sufficient coverage, is a lot cheaper and more effective than private transport.

What makes you believe so? The better coverage public system has, the less effective it is. At very low coverage, where you cover only a handful of popular routes, it is indeed much cheaper than private SOV transport. At the other extreme, where you have a regular bus coming every hour to every house in very sparsely populated area, it wil obviously be very expensive and inefficient. Thus, somewhere between these two extremes, there must be a break even point. Public transit can be definitely be cheaper and more effective, but it isn’t always automatically so.


Vehicles cost half a dollar per mile to operate. Excluding the cost of labor for the driver, public transit will be in general cheaper if there is at least some demand for it. After a certain point, moving towards a shuttle system over a fixed route system might be best.

https://newsroom.aaa.com/tag/driving-cost-per-mile/


> Excluding the cost of labor for the driver, public transit will be in general cheaper if there is at least some demand for it.

Yes, if you arbitrarily exclude the labor, which is a big fraction of the total cost, and conveniently assume enough demand (capacity factor) to cover for higher vehicle costs and higher fuel costs, then yes, public transit will be cheaper. That's what I meant when I said that for highly popular routes it will be more cost-effective.

In real world scenario though this rarely works out for real systems out there. For example, I live in Seattle. The metro bus system is quite extensive and offers good coverage, by national standards. The bus fare here is $2.75 per ride. The farebox recovery is 27%. This means that to cover all operational costs of the bus, the fare would have to be $10.20. Suffice to say, it is much more expensive than total cost of owning and driving a car, as long as your trip is less than 20 miles. Bus trips this long are here absolutely miserable: 20 miles bus ride in practice means at least one transfer, and so instead of 20-30 minute drive, you're looking at 1:30h journey, assuming no traffic of course.


Public transit typically costs more than that in the US, because that labor you’re leaving out is unionized and very expensive: https://ti.org/antiplanner/?p=88.


Let me give you a datapoint and hopefully some intuition. I used to live in Calgary, which is an extremely car-centric city. Population is 1 million and city transit had about a 1000 buses plus two train lines, making it about 1000 people per bus. There are about a million cars in the city.

Let's say that the city got 10 times more buses i.e. 10,000 total. That's 100 people per bus, which should be adequate for everyone to use transit, even with the constraints of how bad the city design is (really wide roads, too many curves and deadends, spread out suburbia). Buses cost about half a million which is maybe 25x the cost of a car. So, the 10k buses would be equivalent to about 0.25 million cars in terms of capital cost. Which is a factor of 4 improvement on the number of cars in terms of capital cost.


Yes, busing people around in multiple occupancy vehicles does in fact reduce capital costs. That's why public transit networks in Eastern bloc countries were so extensive, often reaching every little town and village: communist economies couldn't afford to produce enough personal vehicles, so they ran buses instead.

But, reduced capital costs is evidently not what people in developed economies are actually necessarily after. Turns out, people are perfectly happy to spend extra resources to acquire exclusivity rights to a vehicle, because of flexibility it affords them. Having a private transport allows you to go where you want, when you want, and in almost all circumstances do it much faster than via a bus. The opportunity cost of time spent walking to bus station, waiting for a bus, and then taking longer to travel is for many people very significant, thus they pay for private transportation to recover some of that time.


Yeah, of course if you build coverage everywhere it is not cost effective. There is definitely a point where cost effectiveness peaks. What I mean is that when you get there, it is much cheaper. It very rarely gets to that point in most of the world


It almost always gets much farther beyond that point. In Seattle, where I live, farebox recovery is just 27%, which, given that fare is $2.75, means that riding a bus is much less cost effective than driving.


Sound Transit has an FRR of 42 percent now.


Yeah, because Sound Transit only covers a handful of the most popular routes. The agency that actually tries to have good coverage of the city is Metro Transit.


Did you calculate in the greenhouse gas?

Cost is not the whole story. Electric buses are starting to become a thing too.


No, because greenhouse emissions are free. When we do start paying for carbon emissions, it might be worthwhile to revisit this question, but right now I’m talking about actual costs, not some hypothetical value assigned to externalities.


If you're discussing "ought tos" I think it makes sense to include in that talk of externalities.


The estimates of externalities related to CO2 emissions range between $0.10-0.50 per gallon, so they can hardly make much of a difference here. Cars cause more congestion, but the cost of congestion is mostly in time wasted in traffic, and if we actually grade cars vs public transit on time wasted, cars win easily because public transit is slow.


> At the other extreme, where you have a regular bus coming every hour to every house in very sparsely populated area

Obviously mass transit makes less sense without the masses, in cases like that there are many places that offer community bus services that operate more like taxis. You call and say you want a pick up and the bus will pickup and drop off anyone else along the way. Think uber pool but half a century older.

There are even private companies that run free shuttles just to get old ladies pumping their pensions into poker machines.


Right, but this is not a "public transit", it's effectively private transit with a chauffeur, and it's obviously much more expensive and less efficient than driving yourself (because it saves a little on vehicle amortization, but loses a lot on extra labor cost).


No it's still public transport, it's resources are shared by the community, you don't have exclusive access even while travelling/booking and it may make several stops to pick up other people or drop them off. It's a bus with no fixed route and schedule, that doesn't make it private transport with a chauffeur.


Tallinn (bigger city than Dunkirk) has free public transport since 2013, and since 2018 it expanded to the whole Estonia https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/06/estonia-is-making-pub...


Luxembourg has had it for people aged under 20 for a few years now, and next year it's becoming free for everyone: https://www.mobiliteit.lu/se-deplacer/titres-de-transport/gr... [in French]


Even in France, it's nothing new, my home town has had free buses since 2002.

And the article states "Styling itself as a “laboratory” of free transport, Dunkirk has attracted an “incessant” stream of visitors intrigued at whether it could work in their cities, says Delevoye.". That's just poor journalism.


Pardon me, the site you linked timed out. Is it only free for residents or also for people who're visiting?


It's free for registered residents only


Thanks!

Everything else would have surprised me.


In Tallinn it is only free for residents.


Luxembourg will make public transportation free for everyone in the whole country next summer. That's a great step forward.


Also, I'll add the obligatory reference to Tallinn and its free transport for all registered residents.


Melbourne’s CBD (downtown) has been free for a few years. Damn it’s so convenient to travel around now without checking ticket credit


The free tram zone isn't that large though, it's maybe a 15-20 minute walk from one end to the other.

What annoys me with Melbourne's public transport is that people taking short trips essentially subsidise those taking longer trips. It costs me almost $5 to go one stop on the train from Richmond to Flinders St, a 5 minute trip. It's also the same price for me to take a train all the way to Sandringham, which is 45 minutes.


Maybe I have been away from Melbourne for too long, but isn't the free tram ride just a circle line around the perimeter of the CBD? I remembered it as a way of improving the tourism in city.


It used to be just the brown tram doing a circle. Now it’s all trams within the CBD and extends the 86 down the end of Docklands


That’s true. But when you have to travel across the city multiple times a day for meetings, it’s so convenient.

Yeah, I hear you on the short trips. I just wish the state would take over Metro and Yarra and provide all of them for free


Melbourne's system is great and honestly makes the city just that much more attractive. I know people who live, work and play inside the loop and they basically never leave - wouldn't even think of owning a car. Why would they?

That's how it should be. Public transport should simply be considered a public good deliverable free or nearly free by government, like footpaths or parks or Medicare. It should be considered a basic function of society - and if you want to go private, you pay.


This, but you're preaching to the choir :)


It's a free ferry to get the British tourist back home.


I live in a city that has free bus transport since 2014. The buses come to my nearest stop only once a hour or so, so there still are many commercial carriers, and I pay more times than I don't. But the change has definitely made me consider going by bus much more often. I'd say that free transport, parks and free (usually outdoor) gyms are one of the largest QoL (quality of life) improvements that cities can do.


If you have car insurance and driving licence you should have free public transport. I'm guessing everybody will benefit from you taking the bus instead of the car more that they have to pay to sponsor your bus ride.

And if you don't have a car then you should have free public transport just because it's a just thing to do when you are paying for the free public transport for rich car owners.


I’ve been thinking about this for a while. I ride NICE bus here on LI, NY (a dumpster fire of a bus service/management, but that’s another story). We have two lines that terminate in my town, and within 5 blocks of the start is a big hill. Not feeling like paying 2.75 for the ride up the hill, I imagined how great the PR would be if NICE could make rides within the city free.

(No clue how you would manage that situation—get on for in-town, but stay for extra miles. But it’s my imagination, so whatevers).

When I lived in SF, once in a while I’d hop on the Cable Cars for a free ride.

My town has a $2/free-senior citizen bus, too. But it runs only a few trips a day, and it’s a one-way circuit.

Free in-town public transport is a big idea I wish was realistic for more places.


I'm surprised nobody mentioned the racist reasons the french government refuses to implement free transports nationwide. It would save them a lot of money, but the police would loose its main source of catching undocumented people.

In big cities, the police uses ticket control as an excuse to arrest migrants. The process goes like: 1. stop all black people (only those) at the exit of the metro 2. ask for ticket 3. if they don't have a ticket, ask for ID 4. if they don't have ID, take them away for ID check / deportation.

So why check for transport tickets, you may ask? Because stopping all black people on the streets would be obvious illegal discrimination. The ticket is the legal justification for the ID check.

Here's a press article from over a decade ago about those police raids (french language):

https://www.nouvelobs.com/rue89/rue89-nos-vies-connectees/20...


Are they offering British people a free ferry ride across the channel with a return journey in 3 years?



I live in a city that is about the same size as Dunkirk and would like this to be implemented (even though I walk to most places). I see this freeing parking places in the centre and that really would help with the dying local commerce in the zone.


I wonder if it works better when tram or subway is free. Those are faster and cheaper, though not suitable for "spoke" connections.


This is great, looking forward to seeing what will happen in the next year and how it affects residents/businesses.


They're not the first in France to do so even if it might be the biggest city to do it.


Compiègne, since 1975. Not sure it's the first, but it's the oldest I know of.


What if NYC made all public transport free for NYC residents?

Would the only cars left on the road be Ubers/Lyfts and tourist taxis?

As it is price to own a car in NYC is very expensive: $150ish insurance, $500ish parking, and lets say for a $300/lease thats almost ~$1K/month. Free good public transport system would drive many to car-free life.


I’m not against free public transit. But you’re vastly mistaken about NYC. People who own cars in the city do so because public transit doesn’t serve their needs. Not because it’s too expensive.


would 1000$ a month be a good enough incentive to drop car use to minimum then?


I feel like you’re still missing the point. People pay $1000/month or more because the public transit system doesn’t go where they need to go OR they’re wealthy enough that it doesn’t matter.

I’m not seeing where the $1000/mo incentive you’re describing is coming from? An unlimited MTA card is $127. Nobody is paying for a car if the subway serves their needs.


Or would rather spend $1000 to not rub and be rubbed against strangers.


NYC is not the place for you if you don't want to be in close proximity to other people, as a general rule.


The cities (or areas of the city) where people don't actually use cars are the ones where car use is banned. There are always millionaires for whom reasonable monetary incentives or costs are of no concern and convenience/comfort is everything.


It would cost 3 billion euros per year to make all public transport free in France.


why would i ride my bike in Duinkerken when the bus is free. how does this help the environment? i get that cars arent great, but i very much doubt this is an optimal solution.


Most people ride bikes because they do not have to wait for a bus, and they go places that the busses do not go. I do not think much of the calculus there is about cost.

For this reason you see people put their bikes on the bus rack and use both.


There are other benefits to cycling that aren't just helping the envoirnment that you won't get a from a bus e.g. excercise. Also a bus works according to a schdule and route -- your bike doesn't.


My city has already free transport for students.


If transport can be "free", surely other important things like food, education and healthcare can also be "free".

I for one welcome our new communist overlords.


Healthcare and education are free in most of the developed world.


I' guessing this is sarcasm as most private transport infrastructure is already "free". Roads, bridges, traffic lights, street lights, some car parks, snow clearing, etc...

Even in the US, the majority of education provision is free or subsidised, and 19% of Americans have free or subsidised healthcare.

Social democracies believe that our large, common problems should have common solutions which benefit everyone and society as a whole. That's nothing to do with communism.


For tourist location it work. Government gets the money back in sales and other taxes. But in other cities it will be money pit with no possible way to recoup the cost. It can never work in rural areas because there isn't a dense enough population.


They can’t recoup the cost of roads but that doesn’t stop them from building and maintaining a ton of them. Public services don’t have to pay for themselves directly.


It may even attract more people to live there.


There are small towns like Corvallis, Oregon that do this because there's a need for transport around the university. The rest of the ridership might be mainly disabled/elderly who wouldn't pay much anyway. So the cost of administering a ticketing system isn't worth the revenue. Basically systems that don't have working commuters. https://www.corvallisoregon.gov/cts


Is there no cost to administer whatever system is used to pay for the transportation system?


I think in rural areas there is still a benefit in running shuttles between towns. For example running an hourly shuttle between two towns of 1k-5k 20mi apart


Dunkerque isn't exactly a tourist location! At least for French people. It's in the north of the north so it has worse weather than most places (the North is notorious for its rain and cold compared to other places, everything is grey.). Every French person will tend to go south to their hometown when going on vacation.

> it will be money pit

This is not a given at all. You have to consider the cost of enforcing the payment system. If transport is free you don't have to maintain the turnstiles and gates, employ verification agents, create cards, print tickets, etc. It's not clear at all that fares are covering this cost by themselves. Public transport is already greatly subsidized and already free or cheap for large parts of the population (elderly, disabled, unemployed, students, children).




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