Saturday, November 28, 2009

Free mass public transit is possible

...The initiative is feasible. The only obstacle for making this project come true is ourselves. Are we as individuals and as society mature enough to act responsibly in unity with the thought for common good? Are we capable of a mental turnabout and be ready to sacrifice something for the good of all? Are we ready to do something now when we still have a chance? Only positive answers will bring positive results... Benjamin Dovečar's comments on the Copenhagen COP15 site click to read all.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Join Free Public Transport Advocates in Copenhagen

The UN climate meeting, COP15 in Copenhagen, is approaching at breakneck speed and most of us lay our fears and hopes in the hands of the world leaders, wishing that they will come up with a sustainable climate agreement. But we can't afford to leave it all to them.

We want to make COP15 not only a global, but a local issue as well, because it's only through local actions we can achieve global change. We have to shift focus: from abstract percentages and climate targets to concrete political measures. A powerful climate adjustment requires comprehensive infrastructural changes in the transport sector. The key to climate adjustment is to be found in the cities, where most of the emissions are generated. Through simple reforms such as planning our cities for public transport, bicycle and pedestrian transport, we can actively reduce car traffic and cut the emission rates in our cities.

So far, the local transport sector has been sadly neglected in the climate debate, and we doubt that COP15 will produce any change in that area. It's up to us to make this important issue visible and put it on the agenda. Even though the inflation in car traffic is one of our biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions and unnecessary oil use, few cities have any serious plans to radically decrease their car traffic.

Freeing public transport from fares would effectively create incentives for car drivers to choose public transport instead. With just a marginal tax-raise (in Stockholm, capital of Sweden, all commuters who earns less than 5000 Euros a month would benefit from this), the public transport system could be made free at the point of entry. Free public transport is one solution to pollution!

If you are going to Copenhagen in december, please join us in the pink block in the big demonstration on the 12th. And if you are not – make a demonstration at home and turn to your local politicians with demands for a radical, climate friendly transport policy with investments in public transport and zero fares!

Best wishes from - The Swedish free public transport group

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Heat Wave

Climate Emergency Action Network spokesman John Rice said in an AAP report "Adelaide's unprecedented November heatwave is classic climate-change weather. We need politicians to show real leadership and begin to seriously address the climate emergency today." Indymedia

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Lord Mayor Clover Moore calls for public transport tax breaks

Lord Mayor Clover Moore calls for public transport tax breaks

Tax breaks for public transport: Clover Moore. Photo: Alan Place

Sydney Council is demanding the Federal Government introduce tax concessions for people who catch public transport or ride a bike to work.

The council has suggested this be done through concessional salary sacrifice, or personal tax deductions on cycling equipment and monthly, quarterly and annual public transport tickets.

“Australia’s current tax system actively encourages people to drive but does not reward those who make sustainable transport choices by cycling or catching public transport,” Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.

According to the Bureau of Transport Economics, traffic congestion costs Sydney close to $4 billion a year, and this is expected to rise to $8 billion by 2020 unless action is taken.

The health and environmental costs of transport are estimated to cost $1.4 billion a year.

“People who contribute to reducing congestion and pollution and the burden on our health system should be rewarded,” Cr Moore said.

The council has argued that creating incentives for drivers would encourage them to change to more sustainable transport options.

The council is also seeking a review of other incentives in the tax system, arguing that Australia is lagging behind other countries that have transformed their taxation system to actively promote public transport.

The United Kingdom’s tax system calculates Fringe Benefits Tax based on the amount of carbon dioxide that a car emits.

In the United States, employers can provide their staff with tax free public transport vouchers, passes or fares.

“Forty per cent of peak hour traffic is corporately owned or subject to Fringe Benefits Tax concessions,” Cr Moore said. “People are getting rewarded for racking up kilometres on their car.

“If we are serious about addressing climate change and fixing the transport system these imbalances need to be addressed.”

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Good on you, Lord Mayor Clover Moore - but if we are really serious: why not make it so much easier and provide a real incentive for people to switch to public transport: make it fare-free for all! [Ed]

Transport is not an island

So Sydney’s CBD will be in ”complete gridlock” unless there is “radical” action to stem traffic and reduce the number of buses from the northern suburbs, the State Government’s own research has forecast (SMH, Nov 9th 2009). Wow that’s a headline to sell papers!…….. “A line of buses, stretching for more than a kilometre, sitting idle on Sydney Harbour Bridge“….that’s fantastic, the imagery is very tempting.
The Government’s Transport Data Centre says if nothing is done then high levels of bus congestion and delays for all passengers will result (not to mention the buses enjoying views from the bridge). Of course if “nothing is done” this will eventuate. It is unclear from the SMH article what methodology was used to come to this conclusion but the SMH suggests that there are “serious implications” for the Government’s public transport strategy for north-west Sydney, which relies entirely on buses.
I’m not about to support the current NSW Government who are useless at best, but I want to say this; there are four sectors in transport: road, rail, sea and air. Three of the four do not exist in NW Sydney, the one that does is road. At the moment the only viable alternative is to put a plethora of buses in the NW. Like it or not this is the REALITY. Link this thought with my previous writings on Free Public Transport and what do you get? You get a mechanism to get people out of their cars and onto public transport. If public transport was free, congestion would be halved like it has in other parts of the world where such ventures have been undertaken. Having an army of buses using our existing infrastructure is not a pie in the sky idea. It is an immediate and cheap option while we play catch up with the last 20 years of neglect.
The results of the ‘do nothing’ scenario revealed that the network, with current traffic management arrangements, would not be able to cope with a 30 per cent growth in bus demand.” Again, I highlight the fact that this is a “do nothing” result. If public transport was made free then the game can be replayed, the pieces reset and we can start to reap the benefits that will filter through all of society. Free public transport would enable those in outlying or housing commission areas of Sydney to travel without making a dent in their meagre wages. It would facilitate less demand on emergency and health services. It would free up people’s income to help “stimulate” the economy (which is an often talked about must in financial circles).
Sydney’s Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, has said that “the city cannot cope with more buses” – but this is assuming nothing changes. What has not been reported in the SMH is what (if any) other modelling was run by the Transport data centre. I suspect that if they ran a scenario under the auspices of Free Public Transport then they would see a result that shows a very different pattern. One that has freight moving around freely, one that reduces congestion to insignificant levels, one that makes the notion of “peak hour” a historical relic in the same class as “clean coal”. So while Clover Moore says the city cannot cope with more buses, the city and the Government had reached an agreement to build a new bus layover areas?
Once again the Road Transport network is seemingly being analysed in isolation from all other sectors of society. It does not operate in a vacuum, getting the system right is a balance of many forces and these should always be assessed. Transport, Health, Finance, Infrastructure, Housing, Planning, Local Government, Tourism and others are all inextricably linked and cannot be entirely separated as they usually are. The sooner this is realised the better.

Adam Butler - Be The Change You Want To Be

Sydney - Free public transport would solve many problems

...If public transport was free, congestion would be halved like it has in other parts of the world where such ventures have been undertaken. Having an army of buses using our existing infrastructure is not a pie in the sky idea. It is an immediate and cheap option while we play catch up with the last 20 years of neglect.

...Free public transport would enable those in outlying or housing commission areas of Sydney to travel without making a dent in their meagre wages. It would facilitate less demand on emergency and health services. It would free up people’s income to help “stimulate” the economy (which is an often talked about must in financial circles). Adam Butler

Friday, November 6, 2009

Copenhagen: mass protests planned

Simon Butler
24 October 2009

Tens of thousands of people are expected to take part in climate action protests in the Danish capital of Copenhagen during the United Nations-sponsored climate talks in December.

The biggest action will be a six-kilometre march under the slogan “People First — Planet First”. More than 115 organisations have endorsed the protests, which will demand the richest countries “take the urgent and resolute action needed to prevent the catastrophic destabilisation of the global climate”.

It will take place on December 12, midway through the Copenhagen conference. Organisers have called for the date to be a global day of protest.

The protest call to action says: “We demand that those industrialised countries that have emitted most greenhouse gases take responsibility for climate change mitigation by immediately reducing their own emissions while investing in a clean energy revolution in the developing world.

“Developed countries must take their fair share of the responsibility in paying for the adaptive measures that have to be taken, especially by low-emitting countries with limited economic resources.

“Climate change will hit the poorest first, and hit them hardest. All those who have the economic means to act therefore must do so urgently and decisively.”

A range of other protest events are also planned to coincide with the Copenhagen talks. Climate Justice Action, an international activist network, announced it will organise a mass action to shut down Copenhagen Harbour on December 13.

Spokesperson Tadzio Mueller said: “The UN climate talks will not solve the climate crisis. We are no closer to reducing greenhouse gas emissions than we were when international negotiations began 15 years ago: emissions are rising faster than ever, while carbon trading allows climate criminals to pollute and profit.”

The network will also organise a People’s Climate Justice summit on December 16.

In an October 18 statement, Climate Justice Action said it opposed the false, market-based solutions that are likely to come out of Copenhagen.

Instead, it called for a safe climate policy that includes: leaving fossil fuels in the ground; reasserting peoples’ and community control over production; and recognising the ecological and climate debt owed to the peoples of the global South and making reparations.

[For more details of protests planned during the Copenhagen climate talks, visit and]

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Free shuttle shows people will make the switch


Monday October 26, 2009 - The success of the free shuttle bus in Wollongong (pictured) has stirred the Socialist Alliance to renew calls for public transport to be made free across the state of NSW.

Illawarra Socialist Alliance convener, Chris Williams, said: 'Wollongong's free shuttle bus has been used over 1 million times now - an amazing uptake. It proves that when public transport is made free and frequent, people will make the switch. Given the success of the shuttle, the NSW government should commit to a publicly owned and upgraded, free public transport system. It's a socially just answer to the chronic problem of traffic congestion, lack of parking and lack of mobility for poorer sections of the community'

'Encouraging people to leave their cars at home by providing a real alternative would also greatly assist efforts to reduce global warming. Transport is responsible for 14% of Australia's greenhouse-gas emissions, and road transport accounts for around 90% of that share. Trains are 40 times more energy efficient than cars, so enabling people to make the switch would have huge implications for Australia's emissions reduction targets.

'Making public transport free would also massively reduce costs associated with air pollution, car accidents, traffic congestion, motor vehicle waste disposal, noise pollution and road maintenance. It would more than pay for itself in addition to the social and environmental gains. Our health and environment demand this kind of action; the outstanding success of Wollongong's free shuttle shows it's viable', Williams concluded

Check out news coverage of free shuttle bus here:
Read More......

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Someone has to pay for keeping oil cheap

Why are we in the fix we are in? Why is the auto everywhere in our face? Why do we have sprawl? Why is the the climate disrupted and the biosphere in danger? Because oil has a low price. That is right the price is low. But the cost of oil is high, very high. What is the difference? The difference is that "someone else" will pay for the cleanup when oil makes a mess, "someone else" will pay for the traffic congestion, "someone else" will pay for the dust storm damage.

Sydney - A Thai oil exploration company said Sunday its leaking Timor Sea oil well had caught fire. The West Atlas drilling platform operated by PTTEP Australasia in the Montara field 690 kilometres west of Darwin has been leaking around 400 barrels of oil and gas a day since August 21.EarthTimes