What if it was all free at the point of use? All of it. How bad would that be?
Establishing the overall cost of public transport (not the profits, the actual basic costs) ought not to be impossible. That’s how much we need to find in some form of taxation. Easier; make it regionally free and put the costs onto the regional taxation – that would be Community Charge. With your Community Charge you would get household cards that would authenticate your right to use the public transport in your area. Go out of area and you could buy a temporary local card which would give you the same right there. Visitors to your area would be able to do likewise.
Making travel on buses, trains, trams, even river ferries, free at the point of use… it would make it hard not to use it. For sure, many folk would retain their personal vehicles but even then they’d not be used as much. Public transport infrastructure would ramp up to cater for the increased user base. New routes would establish themselves through local demand. Overall, the road networks would run clearer with less congestion and less pollution. Mass transit schemes would be developed that otherwise stall because of the currently congested road network.
Oh, but wait. That’s not very Capitalist, is it. Where’s the profit incentive? How do people get rich on this?
I’ve recently raised a number of problems that may well be consequent on the opening of a new reailway station in my village, so it may seem odd now to be lauding the idea of using the trains. But those problems are all about the reliance upon the car to get to the damned station in the first place, and the train certainly isn’t going to be free. At this time, it’s almost certainly going to be quicker and probably cheaper to use the existing car than any train that might stop in the village, and you’d only use it because of the lack of parking space at the terminal end. But if it was free, and if there were buses, and cycle safe greenways…
It’s all possible, with the right incentives. Trouble is, we are mired deeply in a cash focused society.
You might say, I’m a dreamer…
(cover pic of NT Croome because hey, I like to build bridges… ©2022 me)