Monday, December 10, 2007

INNER-CITY PUBLIC TRANSPORT SHOULD BE FREE

December 10, 2007

Monthly Fare for Transit to Rise 6.6% in Proposal



Subway and bus riders who use monthly unlimited-ride MetroCards would be hit the hardest under a revised proposal to increase transit fares, which is to be announced today by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
The cost of the monthly pass would rise to $81 from $76, a 6.6 percent increase, according to a memo sent to the authority’s board members yesterday.
Bonus pay-per-ride MetroCards would also face increases under the new proposal. Also, an earlier proposal to offer discounts during off-peak hours is no longer being recommended, according to the memo.
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Nationwide, big-city public transport gets more and more costly, as service cuts are made and infrastructure deteriorates. It is a city-service without a political patron, transport of necessity for the poor, major contributor to gridlock and pollution.
Someday we may learn.
The two most important economic beneficiaries of public transport are businesses and shopping venues. Major retailers, businesses and even industry have been getting a free ride. They should be picking up the largest proportional cost of light rail, subway and bus transport, with secondary contribution by cities themselves.
Of course that get passed on--all costs get passed on either through increased prices or taxes, but such a move would break the downward spiral in service and equipment. Ultimately, a fare-based system falls apart under the burden of fewer riders, ever increasing fares and neglect.
Free public transportation brings
  • additional business into the downtown,
  • supports the business and industry in outlying areas,
  • increases property values,
  • encourages off-hours streetlife,
  • promotes restaurants and theatres,
  • pulls traffic off the streets and
  • cleans up the air.
What's not to like about that?

* For more in-depth articles by Jim on Public Transportation, check out Opinion-Columns.com