Thursday, January 28, 2010

Edmonton - continuing intelligent discussion of free transit

Fares have never been used to fund transit capital expenditures. Fares barely fund 45% of operating expenses and even if you doubled fares, the net revenue would be marginal as a large portion of your ridership would find alternates to using transit. A net zero sum game.

Going free transit may cause a ridership boom which may encourage civic leaders to re-think transit and have enough clout to go after funding from provincial and federal dollars as part of an effective green strategy.

I think it is worth a shot to even try a three month period in off peak months like June-August to see if ridership can be improved significantly. Programs like the U-pass were tried and have become successful, why not a larger program? Most other programs including massive LRT expenditures have not increased overall ridership above the nominal 9% of Edmonton's transit needs in more than 20 years.

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