Fareless Transit Ideas

Here’s an interesting read that I’d like to highlight. Aaron Renn’s blog, The Urbanophile, suggests an interesting concept for smaller cities that are trying to grow transit. Make them free. Well not exactly free but without fares. Renn states:

Why have a fare in the first place? It is odd that we pay per use on transit. We don’t pay to check books out of a library. We don’t pay to visit most city parks. We don’t pay when the police or fire department come to our house for a legitimate emergency. Most non-utility municipal services are provided for free to users and funded by taxes. So why is transit different? I suspect it is rooted in the origins of public transit systems when they were private, for-profit companies. But they aren’t that today so why adopt those legacy practices?

Read the rest of his post for some solid ideas supporting the use of fareless transit.

There’s actually nothing too radical suggested here as Chapel Hill has been fare-free for over eight years as well as downtown’s R-Line. This may or may not be something to consider as the transit section of the 2030 comprehensive plan is concerned.

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  1. Renn’s article is great and I agree wholeheartedly, but citing Chapel Hill Transit as a “good” example of being fare-free is stretching it a bit in my opinion. Chapel Hill Transit, along with NCSU’s Wolfline are fare-free and “open to the public” as a condition of receiving certain federal funds. So while fare-free is a great ideas, CHT isn’t exactly doing it out of the kindness of their hearts for the greater good. That said, I’m still glad they’re doing it.

  2. My main problem with fares is that they hold up the bus, which doesn’t help the system’s punctuality. I like Germany’s system, where you just get on and are assumed to have already paid your fare with a daily, weekly, or monthly ticket. If you don’t have a ticket yet, there’s a machine behind the driver so he/she doesn’t have to wait for you. Every couple months, a plainclothes agent will check all tickets on the bus. Those who don’t have one get fined $50.

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