1. 125Group forum donation: see here!

Would free public transport work in the UK?

Discussion in 'UK Railway Discussion' started by adrock1976, 14 Feb 2018.

  1. 6Gman

    6Gman Established Member

    Messages:
    4,655
    Joined:
    1 May 2012
    If public transport was free who would decide what services would operate?
     
  2. Wivenswold

    Wivenswold Member

    Messages:
    958
    Joined:
    24 Jul 2012
    Location:
    Wivenhoe, Essex
    I think it's a great idea. Certainly worth some serious analysis, if there's an overall financial gain to the economy then do it. Whether the fiscal stimulus freeing up all of that money for individuals is probably the crucial factor. From an environmental point of view, it's got to be worth a look.
     
  3. Andy1066

    Andy1066 Member

    Messages:
    31
    Joined:
    19 Feb 2018
    Sorry , if you pay a fortune to travel at the moment and services can't cope or even run .
    Can't see how free would work in uk.
    It works a dream in Melbourne on time and any works and replacements all sorted , even get escorted to replacement transport all free!
     
  4. 6Gman

    6Gman Established Member

    Messages:
    4,655
    Joined:
    1 May 2012
    The last available figures seem to show rail fares income of £9.7bn pa - I've also seen a figure suggesting bus fares income around £3bn. Add in odds and ends like trams, ferries etc and it looks like around £14bn. That's getting on for around a 30% increase in the annual government deficit. (Or extra taxation)

    Of course, if fares are zero there will probably be a significant cost increase to meet demand.
     
  5. 6Gman

    6Gman Established Member

    Messages:
    4,655
    Joined:
    1 May 2012
    But - in many areas - even a small reduction in car usage (and I presume that's what you mean by the environmental point of view) would require a huge increase in public transport provision, which may not even be possible in some areas.
     
  6. Dentonian

    Dentonian Established Member

    Messages:
    1,194
    Joined:
    4 Dec 2017
    I would have thought bus fare income was much higher than £3 billion, even if Concessionary "make up" isn't included. OTOH, what would the savings to the economy be through reduced congestion and pollution. And if there needs to be an increase in provision, surely there is a boost to the manufacturing industry by employing people to build more buses and trains....

    However, I think free transport is a step too far. What is needed is reduced/capped fares to narrow the gap between bus fares and petrol costs and ultmately reduce car ownership/use.
     
  7. B&I

    B&I Established Member

    Messages:
    2,216
    Joined:
    1 Dec 2017

    Is that right where people are driving the same routes that public transport covers, when even a small bus can transport several times more people than the average car, and when maby cars are running around with one person in them?
     
    Last edited: 27 Feb 2018
  8. B&I

    B&I Established Member

    Messages:
    2,216
    Joined:
    1 Dec 2017

    Every day spent in this country is a day disproving the theory that there is any connection between salary level and ability. This is demonstrated by the fact that I earn above the average level
     
  9. 6Gman

    6Gman Established Member

    Messages:
    4,655
    Joined:
    1 May 2012
    It's a tendency, not a rule... :D
     
  10. al78

    al78 Established Member

    Messages:
    1,041
    Joined:
    7 Jan 2013
  11. adrock1976

    adrock1976 Established Member

    Messages:
    2,174
    Joined:
    10 Dec 2013
    Location:
    Glasgow
  12. chorleyjeff

    chorleyjeff Member

    Messages:
    339
    Joined:
    3 May 2013
    I remember the Ken Livingstone tube experiment with cheap fares. My rates were up and down as the scheme happened and was squashed. Free travel would cause even more mayhem.
    And up here in Northern land the size of subsidy takes us a long way to fully subsidised fares by stealth. Not sure why taxpayers go along with it.
     
  13. TheEdge

    TheEdge Established Member

    Messages:
    3,025
    Joined:
    29 Nov 2012
    Location:
    Norwich
    Luxembourg is a very small very rich country. I doubt what might work there will carry very well into any other normal sized countries, or possibly even large cities.
     
  14. dk1

    dk1 Established Member

    Messages:
    6,098
    Joined:
    2 Oct 2009
    Location:
    East Anglia
    Works well with me railway wise thanks to BR. Never drive anywhere out of my home county :p
     
  15. wildcard

    wildcard Member

    Messages:
    40
    Joined:
    13 Feb 2011
    Q1 : Is it a good idea
    Q2 : Is it feasible ?
    Starting with Q2 - It would only make sense if all travel on every mode ( in that area ) was free for everyone - no exceptions. That way you can dispense with all the costs of revenue collection ( managing and banking cash , issuing of Oyster style cards , the computer infrastructure , gatelines and readers , ticket machines , revenue inspections , prosecutions , back office customer service staff ) . So lets assume TfL decide to make all travel free on their services to be paid for by a council tax surcharge on London Borough residents. I haven't costed this proposal - but lets assume it increases a band D charge from £1500 to £2000pa . I can see no chance this would be politically acceptable to the voters of London . Their obvious objection would be they are subsidising the commuters from the Home Counties, all the tourists and anyone else who doesn't pay a London Borough council tax. Same would apply if the scheme was funded by a local income tax higher rate ( similar to Scottish Income tax ). The next set of objectors would be those who don't use public transport a great deal ( car drivers , commuters who cycle or walk , the housebound etc ) . OK - So we can tell the car drivers to go toot their horn but I cannot see any concensus that would get this scheme approved.
    I think the only feasible scheme would be one limited to a handful of specific services on a few key radial bus or metro routes designed to relieve excessive road traffic air pollution at certain hot spots ( near schools for example ) . Set at a zero fare - funded from the remaining fare box , and if the technology can be found , pollution charges on vehicles traveling through that hot spot. Again this would have the objectors ( but hopefully fewer ) who would complain they are cross subsidising other users but maybe they could see the benefits outweighing their own personal circumstances.
     
  16. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

    Messages:
    18,404
    Joined:
    6 Aug 2009
    Location:
    Yorks
    Given they can't even run a train service when we pay through the nose, I doubt it.

    Posted from TPE (need I say more).
     
  17. jagardner1984

    jagardner1984 Member

    Messages:
    69
    Joined:
    11 May 2008
    But playing devil's advocate - given the scale of the climate crisis, this is exactly the kind of idea that needs to be considered and thoroughly costed, rather than dismissed.

    Perhaps a better question would be, what sort of investment would be needed to make this work.

    On a visit to Melbourne a few years back, I was impressed with the free central zone on the trams. It runs very simply with a tube style map and a green shaded area showing the free zone. Clear announcements are made when exiting the zone (when a very cheap ticket is required).

    Perhaps an interesting test case would be to take a dozen cities where congestion has the most severe economic and environmental impact, and establish a free local bus/train zone within them. That gives the scheme a clear benefit I would say. So a Glasgow - Edinburgh commuter would pay a fare, but their commute into Queen Street and from Waverley would be on a free bus.

    Certainly in our environmental time, it seems insane to be removing services (thus pushing people into private cars/taxis) so free fare/cheap fare incentives for very lightly used services, to stimulate demand, such as the hourly bus service that passes my home with never more than a few passengers on it, seems to be a no brainer.

    At £4.60 for a bus day ticket in Glasgow, it's easy to see why its lightly loaded.
     
  18. DynamicSpirit

    DynamicSpirit Established Member

    Messages:
    3,256
    Joined:
    12 Apr 2012
    I think the problem with that argument is that public transport itself causes CO2 emissions, and so contributes to the climate crisis. Provided it's well used, and buses and trains are reasonably full, in most cases it won't be nearly as much CO2 per passenger mile as a car would cause, but it still causes some emissions.

    To the extent that free public transport gets people out of cars, it could help with climate change. However, free public transport will also induce some of the people who currently walk or cycle to swap to public transport. It'll also induce some new journeys, where people will make journeys 'because it's free' that they wouldn't make today. That will all knock out at least some of the CO2 gains (And discouraging walking/cycling will also have some impact on people's health).
     
  19. VioletEclipse

    VioletEclipse Member

    Messages:
    187
    Joined:
    10 Nov 2018
    Location:
    European Union
    You are right, although with renewable powered public transport becoming more popular, the benefits vastly outweigh the negatives IMO.
     
  20. RT4038

    RT4038 Member

    Messages:
    347
    Joined:
    22 Feb 2014
    I am unsure with whom renewable powered public transport is becoming more popular? I doubt most people who use private rather than public transport do so for other reasons than how the public transport is powered.

    Whilst there are some who use private transport purely on the grounds of cost, the issue of convenience will be a far greater consideration, which free rides will not help at all. The older population get free bus travel, yet many still opt for their private transport even for short journeys.

    I think we have to be careful what we wish for - free rides would remove any incentive for service adequacy, comfort and customer care, whilst degrading the conditions by overcrowding and all sorts of social problems (homeless, youths etc etc). Many existing passengers would probably look for alternatives (private transport mainly, and possibly premium 'Pullman' coaches would make a comeback [not necessarily luxury, but just away from the degradation].). Look at the Indian Railways for a parallel.

    The last time everyone had to rely on public transport for their lives (prior to the mid 50s), people lived much circumscribed lives compared to now. Private transport has meant a freedom that scheduled public transport can never hope to emulate. The genie has been uncorked and we'll never voluntarily get it back.
     

Share This Page