Thursday, May 6, 2010

Waterloo residents discuss free transit

According to Wikipedia, it's mostly small towns that offer system wide free transit.
I suppose you might be able to gain some (or even considerable) popular support for "free" transit if you offered it as an alternative to LRT. With such a program, you could intensify bus routes, vastly increase ridership, and get personal vehicles off the streets for far lower capital costs than with LRT. You could even get some cost recovery for the transit system by charging nominal tolls on the expressway which would drive even more people to transit (but would probably be very unpopular at this point in time). garthdanlor
I should add that there are some serious direct cost savings in going to a free transit system: no fareboxes and maintenance, elimination of staffing for transit passes and overhead for ticket printing. Biggest of all is the time (and thus operating costs) saved in loading, as that would be done quickly and through all doors.

Just as a point of reference, total GRT expenditures last year were $73m, $21.5m of which came from passenger revenue and $41.5m of which came from regional taxes. So it would be a 50% increase in the regional tax levy to make transit free. (Though it would be somewhat more due to the higher resulting ridership.) mpd618

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