What do we mean when we say ‘free' public transport? 

the latest tech news, global tech news daily, tech news today, startups, usa tech, asia tech, china tech, eu tech, global tech, in-depth electronics reviews, 24h tech news, 24h tech news, top mobile apps, tech news daily, gaming hardware, big tech news, useful technology tips, expert interviews, reporting on the business of technology, venture capital funding, programing language

public transport, Bus, some form, City of Boston, micromobility, escooters, transport, Follow @shift_tnw

There’s a lot of attention right now on the idea of making public transport free. In the first instance, you might think it’s a no-brainer. You can ride public trains, trams, buses, and ferries at no charge. That sounds too good to be true, but they’re a reality in many parts of the world.

the latest tech news, global tech news daily, tech news today, startups, usa tech, asia tech, china tech, eu tech, global tech, in-depth electronics reviews, 24h tech news, 24h tech news, top mobile apps, tech news daily, gaming hardware, big tech news, useful technology tips, expert interviews, reporting on the business of technology, venture capital funding, programing language

Over have some form of free public transport, but there are many different models of free public transport, each with its own intention and actual impact. What do they achieve when it comes to economic, infrastructural, and environmental impact?

This is part of a series of articles on free public transport – I’m also looking at the specific realities of free public transport and climate change, and whether it serves disadvantaged communities.

Global Tech News Daily

For now, let’s take a look at the different models, and their pros and cons.

Free public transport when there’s heavy pollution 

public transport, Bus, some form, City of Boston, micromobility, escooters, transport, Follow @shift_tnw
Some cities offer free public transport in times of high pollution. Credit: Maks Key
Global Tech News Daily

As cities are looking for ways to reduce their pollution levels, many are introducing temporary free public transport when pollution or smog is high, including and . The idea is to get people to use their private vehicles less, and share public transport options to reduce air pollution.

Economic/Infrastructural 

Pros : Cheaper to implement as it’s short-term.

Cons: It relies on good communication with residents and visitors who may only discover the initiative after the fact, or when prevented from driving somewhere. 

Environmental 

Pros: It can have an immediate impact on daily pollution levels, especially if it coincides with banning cars. 

Cons: A day out of your car doesn’t solve overall pollution problems, and is unlikely to result in long-lasting behavioral change. 

Free buses

public transport, Bus, some form, City of Boston, micromobility, escooters, transport, Follow @shift_tnw
Fancy a free bus ride in Iceland? Credit: North Iceland

Several cities, such as , Iceland, and , UK, and , US, offer free bus services.

Economics/Infrastructural

Pros: Theoretically, free buses should increase usage. 

Higher usage acts as an impetus to fund more fleets and expand routes. 

Further, as there are no ticket checks, passengers can get on and off the bus faster, reducing delays and increasing timetable reliability. 

Cons: However, if the service is free, there’s less pressure for buses to run reliably – users are less likely to complain about something they get without paying for it. 

Further, most cities use ticketing as a way to measure usage. There are other options, such as using cameras, motion sensors, and weight sensors to track passenger load, but these require extra investment. That might be difficult to procure when cities have lost revenue by providing free buses. 

There’s also no saving for end-users if people need to pay for a train or tram ticket to continue their journey.

Environmental 

Pros: Free buses can be a great option to get commuters out of their cars, providing they take the most popular routes.

Cons: Getting people out of cars relies on a population living close to bus stops. 

However, they also require people living close to bus stops with routes that serve their needs.

As Houssam Elokda, Managing Principal at urban planning and architecture firm , points out, it’s hard to go from 1.2% of a population using buses to mass adoption, especially in a city well served infrastructurally by parking.

Dig deeper, and you see why “abolishing fares” was possible there, but also will have fairly limited impact.

Kansas City has structural problems, that make transit an impossible choice. How can you run effective transit when all you have is suburbia?

It’s kind of laughable. 4

— Houssam Elokda (@HoussamElokda)

Further, there needs to be appropriate last-mile solutions to get people to bus stops. In March this year, Lyft and Spin to bring Spin scooters to the Lyft app in 60 US markets, including Kansas. 

public transport, Bus, some form, City of Boston, micromobility, escooters, transport, Follow @shift_tnw
Spin escooters are partnering with Lyft to provide last-mile solutions. Credit: Spin

It will be interesting to see if this makes a real difference, assuming people want to use escooters as part of their multimodal journeys. 

Make select routes free 

Making select bus routes free is a new move, being trialed in Boston. In August 2021, the City of Boston launched a two-year on bus route 28, a major connector for Boston residents of Mattapan, Roxbury, and Dorchester to bus, subway, and commuter rail networks. 

Environmental

Pros: A free bus can be an effective way of targeting heavy pollution areas. An example is , where people drive from the outer suburbs to a bus that takes them to the inner city.

Cons: Such a strategy relies upon having the adequate multimodal infrastructure to meet the needs of commuters who need to travel to other routes.

This includes car parking, which can also act as an incentive for commuters to drive in and use the spots for free parking without commuting, thus not saving any carbon miles. 

Economic/Infrastructural

Pros: it’s a great strategy if it targets routes that service underserved people. The city of Boston initiative boosted Route 28 ridership by more than 20%. The city the trial in March to include an important corridor connecting riders who are underserved by the existing transit network.

Cons: However, only about a third of commuters who participated saved money in Boston.

Two-thirds ended up paying for a fare upon transferring to another route or via a monthly pass. 

Free public transport for the elderly

public transport, Bus, some form, City of Boston, micromobility, escooters, transport, Follow @shift_tnw
Older people’s public transport use varies significantly by people. Credit: Luke Michael

From this week, people living in Israel will no longer have to pay for public transport. The UK has a similar scheme that grants people over 65

Economic/Infrastructural 

Pros: Financially, the impact of free tickets for the aged varies depending on location. In Israel, the research from 2017 found that 68% of the elderly in Israel use public transport, although it’s unclear as to the frequency.  

Conversely, while it’s hard to get recent comparative numbrs, 2016 found that just 45% of Americans aged 65 or older use public transport

However, one advantage is that free tickets make public transport more attractive from a user experience perspective. Older people may have previously struggled with wrangling cards and smartphone ticketing, so avoiding tickets entirely might simplify things for them. 

Cons: Only take a bus at least once a week in the UK. Their most significant reason is that the service does not go where they want it to go.

1.6 million people aged 65+ in England find it difficult to travel to hospitals, and 630,000 find it difficult or very difficult to get to their doctor. 66% of older people cannot reach a hospital within 30 minutes by public transport. 

Further, older people are more likely to have physical disabilities or limitations. So an increasing cohort could agitate to expedite a rollout of accessible buses, trains, and related infrastructure at stations and bus stops.

Such efforts, however, while necessary (and should already be in place!), can be costly for cities. 

Environmental 

Pros: Fewer people driving is good. But what about places like Israel, where older people are already using public transport frequently? This won’t do much to change the overall carbon emissions of people in their cars. 

Cons: The reality is that in places like the US, free public transport for seniors alone is unlikely to reduce carbon emissions. 

With driving decreasing with age, older people are, in general, likely to spend more time in their local community or rely on relatives for lifts. 

Further, older people are less likely to utilize micromobility programs like escooters and ebikes. Frequent public transport usage relies on having close, accessible transport, which is not always the reality. 

Completely free for all

public transport, Bus, some form, City of Boston, micromobility, escooters, transport, Follow @shift_tnw
Luxembourg made public transport completely free in 2018. Credit: Luxembourg Transport

In 2020, became the world’s first (and only) country to make public transport completely free nationwide. That’s a follow-up from its impressive initiative in 2018, when it offered free public transport for passengers younger than 20. 

The country is aiming for a 20% increase in passengers using public transport to increase users to 50% within eight years. It also wants to increase car occupancy from 1.2 people per car to 1.5.

Economic/infrastructural 

Pros: The country saves money on ticketing infrastructure – ticketing apps and machines, ticketing gates, and ticket controllers. Buses can run faster as passengers can board at any gate. Further, free public transport may result in higher tourist numbers and greater cross-country travel. 

Cons: to city officials, the decision costs 40 million euros a year. That’s the amount of money generated annually by tickets. This “represents no more than 8% of the cost of running public transport.”

So the country needs to meet the loss through a redistribution of funds or additional taxes in the future. 

Environmental 

Pros: No research has been done yet on the environmental outcomes of Luxembourg’s free public transport. However, the government hopes it will reduce the number of cars on the road.

It’s also part of a goal to combat extensive traffic jams, which can correlate to up to two-hour waits.

Cons: Usage relies on convenient access to public transport, including accessible infrastructure. If you aren’t close to public transportation, you are less likely to use it unless last-mile micromobility is a compelling option.

Will free public transport get people out of their cars, considering the numbers are already pretty low? Or just those who walk or bike? I look forward to the research.

So there you have it, lots of approaches to free public transport, all different and each with their own complexities.

We’re a long way from ever seeing universal free public transport, so it’s important to continually track and assess the efficacy of programs that offer at least some free fares. 

News Related

OTHER NEWS

Best free Linux firewalls of 2022

The best free Linux firewalls make it simple and easy to manage firewall security on your Linux computers and networks. And although Linux has a firewall built right into the ... Read more »

Warzone Operation Monarch skins: all the monstrous cosmetics

Warzone’s Operation Monarch skins are here, allowing players to show off their love of the big movie monsters King Kong, Godzilla, and Mechagodzilla. Call of Duty: Warzone is no stranger ... Read more »

Elon Musk: Twitter deal is on hold

Elon Musk announced in a tweet that his $44 billion deal to buy Twitter is on hold, due to a report about spam accounts on the social network being fewer ... Read more »

Horizon Zero Dawn on PS1 doesn't look half bad

Horizon Zero Dawn has been thrown back to the low-polygon world of the original PlayStation, in a fan demake that reimagines Aloy’s post-apocalyptic adventuring in the graphical style of the ... Read more »

‘Dead Space' remake release date: EA sets January 2023 launch for the return of survival horror series return

From “Dead Space 3” gameplay trailer | Photo credit: EA via Dead Space / YouTube screenshot Motive Studios conducted the latest livestream event for the “Dead Space” remake to provide ... Read more »

Blizzard thinks it's fixed Overwatch 2's long queues

In a developer blog, the Overwatch 2 developers have offered up some stats that suggest that their recent tweaks to support have helped even out the game’s queue problems. In ... Read more »

Ryzen 7000 CPU leak shows AMD taking boost speeds to new heights

AMD’s Zen 4 processors – expected to be Ryzen 7000 models – are due later in 2022, and we’ve just caught another glimpse of what could be one of the ... Read more »

‘Starfield' and ‘Redfall' release dates are moved to 2023, Bethesda announces delay ahead of summer event

From the trailer of “Starfield” | Photo credit: Bethesda Softworks / YouTube screenshot Bethesda’s “Starfield” and Arkane’s “Redfall” are arguably one of the most anticipated video games this year. However, ... Read more »

Pixel 6a specs: Google will use a different in-display fingerprint sensor from the Pixel 6 series

Google Pixel 6a | Photo credit: Made by Google / YouTube screenshot The in-display fingerprint sensor on the standard Pixel 6 and high-end Pixel 6 Pro caused quite a stir ... Read more »

(LEAD) Samsung considers raising chip prices by 20 pct: report

(ATTN: ADDS more details from 4th para, photo) SEOUL, May 13 (Yonhap) — Samsung Electronics Co. is considering raising chipmaking prices by up to 20 percent, a news report said ... Read more »

The Google Pixel 6a might fix the Pixel 6's most annoying flaw

If you have a Google Pixel 6 or a Pixel 6 Pro then outside of the many bugs – which have mostly now been fixed – you might be most ... Read more »

Samsung considers raising chip prices by 20 pct: report

SEOUL, May 13 (Yonhap) — Samsung Electronics Co. is considering raising chipmaking prices by up to 20 percent, a news report said Friday. Bloomberg reported the South Korean chipmaker is ... Read more »

Dune Part 2 hires superstar actor for its lead villain role

Dune Part 2 has reportedly hired superstar actor Christopher Walken to play the movie’s key villain. According to multiple outlets, including Deadline, Variety, and The Hollywood Reporter, Walken has been ... Read more »

Medicox to raise 4 bln won via stock sale

SEOUL, May 13 (Yonhap) — Medicox Co.on Friday announced that it will sell stocks to raise 4 billion won (US$3.1 million). The proceeds from the stock offering will be used ... Read more »

Pixel Watch release date: Google confirms first smartwatch after months of leaks

Google Pixel Watch | Photo credit: Made by Google / YouTube screenshot It was not much of a surprise when Google unveiled the Pixel Watch at the opening of the ... Read more »

This is how new Indian privacy law will have 'negative impact on people's privacy'

In April, the Indian government dropped a hard pill to swallow for VPN services and their users. According to India’s new data retention law, security software firms will be forced ... Read more »

Build a website for just $1.99 with Zyro's exclusive new deal

As far as cheap website builder plans go, this deal from Zyro might just take the crown. In an exclusive offer to TechRadar readers, you can sign up for Zyro’s ... Read more »

SD Biotechnologies to raise 35.2 bln won via stock sale

SEOUL, May 13 (Yonhap) — SD Biotechnologies Co. on Friday announced that it will sell stocks to raise 35.2 billion won(US$27.4 million). The proceeds from the stock offering will be ... Read more »

(LEAD) Lotte Chemical Q1 net tanks on high oil costs, slowing demand

(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead; UPDATES with more info; ADDS photo) SEOUL, May 13 (Yonhap) — Lotte Chemical Corp., the petrochemical unit of South Korean conglomerate Lotte Group, said Friday its ... Read more »

KEPCO Plant Service & Engineering Q1 net income down 52.7 pct to 20.8 bln won

SEOUL, May 13 (Yonhap) — KEPCO Plant Service & Engineering Co. on Friday reported its first-quarter net profit of 20.8 billion won (US$16.2 million), down 52.7 percent from a year ... Read more »

Coway Q1 net income up 7.3 pct to 135 bln won

SEOUL, May 13 (Yonhap) — Coway Co. on Friday reported its first-quarter net profit of 135 billion won (US$105.1 million), up 7.3 percent from a year earlier. The company said ... Read more »

CJ CGV remains in red in Q1

SEOUL, May 13 (Yonhap) — CJ CGV Co. on Friday reported its first-quarter net loss of 111.4 billion won (US$86.8 million), remaining in the red compared with a year ago. ... Read more »

ConvertKit email marketing software review

Looking for the best email marketing services for your business? Maryland-based ConvertKit offers an easy-to-use email marketing platform with a visual designer for building automated strategies. It does a little ... Read more »

(LEAD) Korea Electric Power reports record loss in Q1 over high fuel prices

(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead to add more details; ADDS more info throughout, photo) SEOUL, May 13 (Yonhap) — South Korea’s state power firm Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO) on Friday ... Read more »

Lotte Chemical Q1 net profit down 78.3 pct to 116.6 bln won

SEOUL, May 13 (Yonhap) — Lotte Chemical Corp. on Friday reported its first-quarter net income of 116.6 billion won (US$90.8 million), down 78.3 percent from a year earlier. Operating income ... Read more »

This platform could make you really feel the VR burn

What’s virtual reality without a little real-life sweat? Kat VR is releasing an omnidirectional gaming treadmill for people who want to play virtual reality games while also getting their cardio ... Read more »

(LEAD) LG Uplus' Q1 net down 15.2 pct from decreased handset-related margins

(ATTN: RECASTS with more details; CHANGES headline; ADDS photo) SEOUL, May 13 (Yonhap) — LG Uplus Corp., South Korea’s third-largest mobile carrier, said its first-quarter net profit slumped 15.2 percent ... Read more »

Google's Android 13 Beta for TV adds a cool feature - but you can't try it yet

In the aftermath of I/O 2022, Google is quietly rolling out Android 13 Beta 2 for TV which brings new features and quality-of-life (QoL) changes. Be aware that the new ... Read more »

Korea Electric Power shifts to loss in Q1

SEOUL, May 13 (Yonhap) — Korea Electric Power Corp. on Friday reported its first-quarter net loss of 5.92 trillion won (US$4.6 billion), turning from a profit of 112.4 billion won ... Read more »

HMM Q1 net spikes on high shipping rates

SEOUL, May 13 (Yonhap) — South Korea’s leading container shipper HMM Co. said Friday its first quarter earnings rose nearly 20-fold from a year earlier amid high freight rates. Net ... Read more »

Scientists grow cress seeds in moon dust collected by NASA, potentially paving the way for space-grown food

Scientists say they have overcome one of the biggest barriers to deep space travel – by growing food in dust from the moon. Researchers nurtured cress in surface soil, or ... Read more »

Apple releases macOS Monterey beta update, but we're waiting for WWDC

Apple seeded its latest macOS Monterey 12.4 Release Candidate to the developers channel for testing purposes, likely the last release ahead of WWDC 2022 on June 6. Registered developers with ... Read more »

S. Korea, Japan in close consultation over Gimpo-Haneda flight service resumption

SEOUL, May 13 (Yonhap) — South Korea and Japan have had close consultations on the reopening of an air route between Seoul’s Gimpo and Tokyo’s Haneda airports after more than ... Read more »

Samsung holds first-ever 6G forum to discuss next-gen communications tech

By Woo Jae-yeon SEOUL, May 13 (Yonhap) — Samsung Electronics Co. on Friday held its first 6G forum with experts from academia and industry to discuss the future of communications ... Read more »

LG Uplus Q1 net income down 15.2 pct to 170.4 bln won

SEOUL, May 13 (Yonhap) — LG Uplus Corp. on Friday reported its first-quarter net profit of 170.4 billion won (US$132.2 million), down 15.2 percent from a year earlier. Operating profit ... Read more »

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra vs Honor Magic 4 Pro: can Honor beat the Android champ?

The Honor Magic 4 Pro sees the former budget sub-brand emerging from its second-tier status and presenting a genuine flagship contender. What better way to gauge its likely success than ... Read more »

(LEAD) Samsung Life's Q1 net tumbles amid stock market volatility

(ATTN: RECASTS headline; ADDS info throughout) SEOUL, May 13 (Yonhap) — Samsung Life Insurance Co., South Korea’s top life insurer, on Friday reported its first-quarter net profit plunged 72.9 percent ... Read more »

(LEAD) NCSOFT Q1 net more than doubles on robust sales from latest 'Lineage' entry

(ATTN: RECASTS with more details; CHANGES headline; ADDS photo) SEOUL, May 13 (Yonhap) — NCSOFT Corp., a major South Korean online and mobile game developer, said Friday its first quarter ... Read more »

Samsung Life Insurance Q1 net profit down 72.9 pct. to 302.2 bln won

SEOUL, May 13 (Yonhap) — Samsung Life Insurance Co. on Friday reported its first-quarter net profit of 302.2 billion won (US$234.5 million), down 72.9 percent from a year earlier. The ... Read more »

Tachyum unveils a monster processor that does everything

The wait is finally over and the US-startup Tachyum has now launched its Prodigy universal processor which combines the functionality of a CPU, GPU and TPU in a single processor. ... Read more »