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Old Posted Sep 11, 2019, 2:08 AM
lrt's friend lrt's friend is offline
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Originally Posted by llamaorama View Post
I question the notion that making things free always makes people appreciate them less as a rule. If something is sold as a service, then users become customers and develop a customer's sense of entitlement. If something is relatively inexpensive, as mass transit would have to be, people will see it as disposable. Look at how people behave at McDonalds or how they treat motel rooms. If something is provided as a free service people may just as well recognize it as a civic good and it think of it as something that brings pride.

In any case there are practical reasons for this.

Kansas City has very low transit ridership mostly due to its geography. The system already requires a huge subsidy and farebox recovery is probably almost nil if I had to guess? Fare collection itself is an expense. I suspect most of its riders are too poor to own a car and qualify for some kind of reduced price fare already. The alternative, raising fares to expand service, would probably not work because city's geography makes transit inconvenient. The people who rely on transit as an affordable alternative to car ownership would not be able to pay.

Making transit free accomplishes four things. One, it makes transit more useful to the people who rely on it the most(the poor). Two, I think being absolutely free would lure in some choice riders who might otherwise take an uber or something and are brave enough to try the bus instead, but only if they can hop on without stressing over the vagaries of needing to buy a transit card or pass or download an app and charge it with fares. Thirdly, it by most likely increasing ridership, it will increase political support of the system. Four, by increasing transit ridership, it benefits the environment, benefits central neighborhoods, and will cut down on the costs of things like parking and roads downtown. Things like a downtown courthouse parking garage for jury duty folks or allocating cops to work traffic patrol are going to be surprisingly nontrivial costs to taxpayers.
Free transit may increase ridership somewhat but is unlikely to encourage improvements in service, which really is needed to generate more significant higher ridership and get us past the idea that transit is a welfare program for the poor.

The bolded statement makes a point that no transit system wants.
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