Saturday, December 24, 2011

Sunshine Coast - Fortnight of free public #transport

Cr Griffin used Tuesday's Noosa Junction launch of the Coast's free holiday bus service from December 26 to January 8 to suggest that our bus system, which already takes surfboards onboard, has to become even more user-friendly.
The council's integrated transport systems spokeswoman believes such cycle-friendly travel would further boost the Coast's credentials as a progressive force in traffic snarl busting - especially at the Christmas peak.
In fact Cr Griffin believes we may already boast the world's only fortnightly block of free public transport.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Free train travel pushed to tackle peak-hour overcrowding

Jacob Saulwick November 15, 2011


Sydney business leaders are backing a proposal by Infrastructure NSW for the government to offer free train travel before 7am.

The proposal, pushed by the Infrastructure NSW chief executive, Paul Broad, would aim to lessen crowding on peak-hour trains by making it more attractive to travel before the peak period.

At a transport forum last month, an Infrastructure NSW board member, Max Moore-Wilton, said the state government should be looking at introducing congestion charging across all modes of transport.

"Why on earth is it just for cars?" Mr Moore-Wilton said.

"Why don't we look at it for State Rail and State Transit? We all know that the people that come in in peak hour should principally be those people that are going to work. They have the capacity to pay," he said.

"Whenever we go and talk about that, the first thing the politicians do is what I call 'Labor disease', which has now become general," Mr Moore-Wilton said at the event, hosted by the Tourism and Transport Forum.

"They say, 'Well we don't want the average punter to pay differentially, we don't want the pensioners to pay deferentially,' and it's left to the merchant bankers to pay. Well they're not the great bulk of the people.

"You've got to tell the people, if we are going to improve peak-hour congestion, those people that need to come for their work should be prepared to pay more. Those people that don't should be encouraged, and I use the word encouraged, through lower pricing."

Mr Broad has raised the idea of free train travel before 7am with the state government. It is unclear if Infrastructure NSW has also raised the idea of higher fares for peak-hour commuters.

The acting Premier, Andrew Stoner, said this morning: "We're all interested in innovative ways to get cars off Sydney's main roads, to get more people on to public transport and Infrastructure NSW is a body that will advise the government on infrastructure, including public transport.

"So that's a proposal we'll think about. It has been trialled in part by a previous government with fairly limited success but we'll have a look at it."

Patricia Forsyth, the executive director of the Sydney Business Chamber, backed the use of more so-called demand management measures

"The cost of increasing capacity on the road and rail network throughout Sydney is becoming so prohibitively expensive that we need to start looking at using what we already have in a more intelligent and efficient way," Ms Forsythe said this morning.

"Business supports the move by Infrastructure NSW to incorporate a transport demand strategy into its 20-year infrastructure plan. That is a victory for common sense and transport planning," she said.

A recent study by researchers from Southern Cross University and Douglas Economics, presented to the Australasian Transport Research Forum, found some willingness among Sydney commuters to change their travel times if offered attractive pricing.

While most commuters could not change their travel times because of work, the study, which analysed results of a 2010 survey, showed that, for a 30 per cent discount, 15 per cent of peak-hour passengers would be willing to travel 30 minutes earlier, while 4 per cent of commuters would be willing to travel an hour earlier.

Industry experts say that previous trials of free off-peak train travel have thrown up numerous problems.

One problem is that commuters tend to rush for the last train in the free period. This would mean, for example, there would be little patronage growth on a train leaving at 6.30am but huge overcrowding on a train leaving at 6.55am.

Another issue is that free early morning travel would attract to the train system people who do not currently use it. While this would be a good thing, it would also mean more people would need to pack on to crowded afternoon return trains.

Jacob Saulwick is the Herald's Transport Reporter

Monday, November 7, 2011

What if transit were free?


November 07, 2011

As sure as the arrival of the ice and snow, this time of year always brings unpleasant news about how much the city plans to jack up bus fares.

This year, Winnipeg Transit is asking for a five-cent increase to the basic fare, taking it up to $2.45 for a one-way trip. Passes and tickets will go up accordingly.

If approved, this will mean that fares have gone up about 36 per cent since Mayor Katz took office in 2004, or about two and a half times the rate of inflation over that period.

Amazingly, ridership has actually increased despite the rate hikes. While transit officials credit service improvements, it’s far more likely that rising fuel costs, rising awareness of environmental issues and changing commuting patterns are really the cause. And even with several years of growth, ridership is just now back up to what it was 20 years ago.

Politicians and policy makers like to roll out expensive plans to build rapid transit to attract even more riders, but I have to wonder why no one is talking about the one surefire way to boost transit use.

What if it were free?

Now, I can already hear drivers howling in outrage about the idea of transit users getting a “free ride.” But the reality is that drivers have been getting their own free ride for years.

This city spends tens of millions on planning, building and maintaining roads every year, primarily for the benefit of private automobile owners.

The new Transportation Master Plan calls for $2.1 billion in new roads and bridges to be built over the next 20 years. Billions more will be needed to maintain our existing crumbling streets.

But we could potentially save much of that expense if we could simply get more people out of their cars and on to transit.

It wouldn’t be cheap; we’d need more buses, more drivers and more public-operating subsidies. But the benefits are clear. It would reduce traffic congestion, speed up everyone’s commute and eliminate the need for more road capacity. It would benefit the environment, encourage more compact development and enhance mobility for people who can’t drive or afford a car.

Sure, this might be a bold (or crazy) idea, but it would be nice to see a few more of those from city hall rather than just a nickel-and-dime approach to running essential services.

– Colin Fast is a corporate communicator who blogs about life in Winnipeg at

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Australia parties compete over who can provide the most free public transport

Transport on track despite $7m fare revenue cut: "Ms Palaszczuk said the government was able to offer the $6.7 million free travel benefit “through budgeting and planning” and there was no reduction in the planned rollout of new seats on network services."

'via Blog this'

Friday, October 28, 2011

Free public transport today - Industry News - Australasian Bus News - Trader Business Media

Free public transport today - Industry News - Australasian Bus News - Trader Business Media: "To assist with people movement around Perth this weekend, all Transperth bus, train and ferry services will be free today – Friday October 28 – and again on Saturday October 29.

“I urge people to take advantage of the free public transport,” Buswell says.

“Leave your car at home and travel into the city to enjoy the Big Aussie Barbecue with Her Majesty The Queen, or one of the many other family-friendly activities.”"

'via Blog this'

Monday, September 26, 2011

Wacky-Named "Pirate" Party Gains Power in Germany, Calls for Free Public Transportation

by on 09.25.11

Pirate party member Susanne Graf House of Representatives photo
Image: Pirate Party/Susanne Graf

As the rest of the world was celebrating talk like a pirate day, the Pirate Party won its first seats in the Berlin state elections.

In Germany, any party winning more than 5% of the votes is entitled to a share in government. With 8.9%, the Pirate party lands 15 seats in the state government, among them 19-year-old Susanne Graf (pictured above), who will be the youngest representative when session opens in October. Is this the beginning of a new kind of politics? Is the Pirate party walking a green plank?

First and foremost, the Pirate Party campaign program (pdf, German) promises transparency and to give citizens more voice in government.

As a young, technologically oriented party, this could auger a change (which some believe is inevitable) in the way we govern ourselves, a move away from representative government to net-based referendums. While not itself green, many believe this strategy could help take big money out of government, bringing balance back to the human aspect of decision making.

Although the word "pirate" has come to be associated with, well let us just say, the uncompensated use of certain digital properties, the official program of the Pirate Party focuses on equal access to information that is in the public domain, and equal opportunity use of internet technology as well as improved educational opportunity for the youth.

The greenest angle on this approach to equal access in public domains is the call to keep natural areas available for everyone, such as maintaining open access to river banks. Ironically, the debate stirs already over the lack of female presence in the party. Susanne is the only female sitting with 14 males.

The Greenest Planks of the Pirate Party Platform:
Probably the greenest plank proposed in the Pirate program calls for free public transport, and activates against expanding highways through the city. Free public transport speaks for itself as a green platform. Thoughts on how to suppress highway construction projects rest on the main Pirate plank: make the contracts transparent, so the big money cannot win behind closed doors, and give people a direct vote on whether such projects should proceed.

Of course, the Pirates advocate nuclear-free power as well. And the campaign program explicitly calls for "sustainable, ecological economic policy."

Pirates Walking Other Planks
The Pirate program offers much more than "open access." It turns the clock back on post-9/11 state controls, fighting against surveillance of citizens and demanding improvements in accountability for police forces.

The platform contains planks designed to open borders, fighting on several fronts against anti-immigrant feelings. Perhaps most controversially, the Pirate platform also demands a change from drug abuse penalization to educational and social supports designed to reduce dependence on harmful drugs. Walking this plank includes the legalization of marijuana, on the grounds that illegal cannabis handlers pose a health risk by selling contaminated products.

Nations around the globe are finding politics as usual unsatisfying in the face of global economic crisis. Sustainability fans know that things cannot go on as they are. The question that now arises in Berlin is: will this youth movement earn respect for a new path forward, a post-capitalist, post-industrial, social-network based politics? Can politics survive transparency? And can it work for a party named "Pirates"?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

National Transport Commission suggests fare-free transport fund

Roads tax has drivers' support | "A TRANSPORT levy similar to Medicare could fund an $85 billion infrastructure program across Australia, a government-backed advisory group has proposed.

The National Transport Commission - an independent statutory body funded by federal and state governments - has suggested public transport could be made free for people who paid the levy through a means-tested scheme.

It could potentially scrap the need for ticket administration and also help combat fare evasion. The money raised would be used for priority transport and infrastructure projects."

'via Blog this'

Friday, September 16, 2011

Free public transport could solve Adelaide congestion

Glut of inner-city spaces hampers traffic reform | Adelaide Now: "Mr Yarwood said the real issue was peak-hour congestion. Greens MP Mark Parnell said he first floated the idea of a levy on car parking in the '90s. "The money would fund free public transport around the city and I think that idea still has merit," he said."

'via Blog this'

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Public transport's a safe investment - Opinion - Editorial - General - The Canberra Times

Public transport's a safe investment - Opinion - Editorial - General - The Canberra Times: "The widespread use of cars comes with growing direct and indirect costs to taxpayers. Governments must continually build new roads and maintain existing ones as they deteriorate. Valuable real estate must be set aside for car parks, rather than be put to more productive uses. Traffic gridlock costs businesses through lost productivity and, in some industries, significantly higher prices; the federal Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics estimates congestion losses in Australia will amount to more than $20 billion a year by 2020. And every year that the bureau has examined the social costs of road crashes - health-care expenses, infrastructure damage, legal bills and policing and emergency services - it has found the amount dwarfs the revenue raised through rego fees, fuel excises and all other motoring-related taxes. Cars are a far costlier habit than most of us realise, because we never see a bill that lists their true price."

'via Blog this'

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Free bus rides may aid weight loss - Local News - News - General - The Canberra Times

Free bus rides may aid weight loss - Local News - News - General - The Canberra Times: "British researchers studied the health implications of the 2006 introduction in England of free off-peak local bus transport for people aged 60 years and over.

The study found that use of buses by older people increased after the policy was introduced and that those who took advantage of free bus passes were less likely to become overweight or obese."

'via Blog this'

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Australia's climate scientists expose shock-jock distortion tactics | Stephan Lewandowsky | Environment |

Australia's climate scientists expose shock-jock distortion tactics | Stephan Lewandowsky | Environment | "Australia has unwittingly become a social experiment. A ruthless experiment on the fate of a society when a single media conglomerate, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, owns 167 newspapers and controls around 70% of the printed media market."

'via Blog this'

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Man's Greatest Mistake

Man's Greatest Mistake: "It is an issue that cuts across many aspects of modern society, it costs billions, it kills millions and maims millions more, it is a key factor behind the obesity epidemic, it criminalises hundreds of thousands of citizens, it eats up vast tracts of land, it is an anti-social menace that blights communities, particularly poorer communities, and it is deeply socially divisive. It is so resource hungry that it pushes up the price of food and other world commodities, it even causes developed nations to go to war."

'via Blog this'

Event horizon: the black hole in The Australian's climate change coverage

Event horizon: the black hole in The Australian's climate change coverage: "Excuse my bluntness, but it is past time to acknowledge that the science underpinning anthropogenic climate change is rock solid. The sceptics have had the time and opportunity to come with up a convincing case, but their best efforts read like arguments that NASA faked the moon landing."

'via Blog this'

Friday, August 19, 2011

Labor Promises Free Off-Peak Travel For Brisbane Seniors

Brisbane seniors will get free off-peak travel on public transport under a Labor Brisbane City Council. Photo: Michelle Smith
Read more: Promises Free Off-Peak Travel For Brisbane Seniors: Brisbane's seniors will get free "off peak" travel on Brisbane's public transport if Labor wins the next Brisbane City Council elections, mayoral labor candidate Ray Smith promised this morning.

Mr Smith is unveiling details of his first major promise for the 2012 council elections this morning at Morningside.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Nature Studies by Michael McCarthy: Wet summers conceal a terrible surprise - Nature Studies, Nature - The Independent

Nature Studies by Michael McCarthy: Wet summers conceal a terrible surprise - Nature Studies, Nature - The Independent: "Go outside. Look up into the sky. Ask yourself, where's all this global warming, then? The answer is, you're being shielded from it, at the moment, by Chinese sulphur.

It has not gone away. It is building up steadily, behind a Chinese pollution screen, and when that screen disappears, we are going to get a terrible surprise."

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Public transport fares are for rationing -- not revenue

Reducing crowds on public transport - Government - News - Inner West Courier: "THERE may finally be a solution to reduce crowding on public transport.

Prof Corinne Mulley, Sydney University’s chair of public transport, says the state government should restrict non-workers’ concession fare use to off-peak hours."

Mount Druitt Commuters Improvement Group: Male Commuter Calls For All Free Public Transport!

Mount Druitt Commuters Improvement Group: Male Commuter Calls For All Free Public Transport!: "A male Mount Druitt senior commuter is calling for complete public trans, which will bring all cars off the road, less pollution better, more efficient organised transport infrastructure. I do meet different people every day who are quite open to talk to me ,with quite ease. Each person has their own quality of life."

Monday, July 25, 2011

Lifehacker’s Free Public Transport Guide, 2011 Edition

If you’re in the middle of a capital city, chances are you’re not too far from a free public transport service. Find one near you with Lifehacker’s comprehensive guide to free public transport in Australia.

Picture by Graham Lees

This is an updated version of our guide from last year, reflecting the changes that have happened since then and incorporating additional reader suggestions. Most of the free options are heavily geared towards tourists, which often means limited hours in the evening and, in some cases, weekends. Even if you’re a local, free services can be useful when the weather turns nasty.

If you combine this list with our guide to cheap airport transfers, you can enjoy a visit to any of Australia’s major cities without spending a fortune. The links to each service provide detailed timetable information. (Double-check if you’re planning to use one on a public holiday, as many don’t operate then.)


The 555 bus runs in a loop in both directions between Circular Quay and Central Station. The frequency is pretty good — once every 10 minutes. On weekdays, it runs from 9:30am to 3:30pm (extended to 9:00pm on Thursdays). On weekends, it operates from 9:30am to 6:00pm.

Outside the CBD, there are also free shuttle services in Kogarah, Parramatta and Ryde .


The City Circle Tram is Melbourne’s most prominent free option, running every 12 minutes around the outer edge of the Melbourne CBD (both clockwise and anti-clockwise). It runs between 10:00am and 6:00pm Sunday to Wednesday, and 10:00am to 9:00pm Thursday to Saturday. The City Tourist Shuttle bus offers more access to tourist destinations, but is less frequent and slower. It runs every 30 minutes, takes 90 minutes to do a full loop, and operates between 9:30am and 4:30pm daily.

If you’re an early riser, trains in Melbourne are free prior to 7am. However, you’ll need an Early Bird metcard, which is only available from premium stations, and your journey must finish before 7am.


Brisbane offers a pair of loop buses, one for the CBD covering the main area of the city and one for Spring Hill. The CBD loop runs 07:00am to 6:00pm , with departures every 15 minutes. Spring Hill runs from 06:52am to 6:00pm, with departures every 10 minutes. Annoyingly, neither service runs on weekends or public holidays.


Perth has by far the broadest range of free options for any city. With the Free Transit Zone (which essentially covers the CBD, as you can see on the map, you can catch any bus or train for free. Note that the entire journey has to be within the free zone, and that if you want to use a train you’ll need a SmartRider card (since Perth has stations with electronic gates).

There are also three free CAT bus services which operate entirely within the free CBD area: the east-west Red and Yellow services, and the North-South Blue service. Services generally operate from around 06:00am to 07:00pm on weekdays, with frequencies of roughly once every seven minutes. Weekends have later starting times and lower frequencies. Outside the city, there are free CAT buses which operate in Fremantle and Joondalup (though the latter don’t run on weekends). Full details for all the services are handily collected on the CAT information page.


Adelaide’s iconic Glenelg tram is free between South Terrace within the city and the Entertainment Centre, and along Jetty Road within Glenelg. It runs every 7 or so minutes between 8:00am and 6:00pm Monday to Friday, every 15 minutes between 09:00am and 6:00pm Saturdays and Sundays, and every 20 minutes at other times.

On the bus, the 99C runs a loop across the northern half of the CBD from 08:00am to 09:00pm, with services every 15 minutes until 06:00pm and additional services on Friday nights. Weekend services run every 30 minutes. The Adelaide Metro site captures both these options on a single page. Additionally, Adelaide City Council runs the Adelaide Connector service, which covers a wider area (incorporating North Adelaide as well) but with only one bus an hour.


The Fare Free Bus scheme allows free travel on any government bus in the city centre between 07:30am and 6:00pm every day.


The Gong Shuttle runs from Wollongong Station to Wollongong University and back. It operates every 10-20 minutes between 7:00am and 10:00pm Monday to Friday, and every 20 minutes between 8:00am and 6:00pm on weekends.

Know of a free transport option we’ve missed? Tell us about it in the comments. (We’re aware of the various tricks to get extra time on tickets, such as buying after 3pm for a weekly in Sydney to get an extra day, but we want to focus on purely free options here.)

Lifehacker Australia editor Angus Kidman hasn’t used all of these options, but he’s working on it. His Road Worrier column, looking at technology and organising tips for travellers, appears each week on Lifehacker.


Give up your car, get free public transportation

Would you ever surrender your car? We don't mean to trade in your gas-guzzler for a high mileage vehicle, or swap your Toyota Prius for a Nissan Leaf, or even agree to trundling around in a G-Wiz. In this case, we're talking going automotive cold turkey. What would it take for you to make that jump? Would a lifetime of free public transportation do it for you?

Well, this is what the city of Murcia, Spain is offering. The city is trying to lure residents into a unique trade-in offer: turn over your car, and you get an unlimited pass to the city's new public transportation system.

Like many cities in Europe, Murcia has become a constant traffic jam. Car owners are also finding it harder and harder to find a place to park. City planners in the U.S. might prescribe construction of additional parking lots and new highway lanes as the solution, but Murcia is taking this other route. Sound like a deal?

[See story below for more info: Ed]

Autoblog Green

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Trade Your Car For A Free Lifetime Bus Pass (If You Live In Murcia)

BY Morgan ClendanielTue Jul 12, 2011
A Spanish city, in a bid to end congestion, has made its citizens an offer: Give up your car and ride our trolley for free, forever.

Mejor en Tranvia trolley offer

People love their cars. They're willing to maintain a car even when it's expensive and difficult. In the Spanish city of Murcia, which had become crowded with vehicles, the government decided to try to pry people's hands off the wheels by offering a little economic incentive. Not only would you not have the inconvenience of trying to park, you could ride the city's public transit for free for the rest of your life.

To promote the campaign, the city made a series of adorable advertisements showing how unpleasant it is to be stuck in traffic and looking for parking all the time.

And just in case some Murcia residents hadn't noticed how annoying it was to have a car in the city, they also started leaving cars in impossible parking spots, like this one, where the car is forced to sit on two other cars to find a space.

Seeing that, a lifetime trolley pass looks quite enticing. While many cities have campaigns to encourage public transit use, and a few use congestion pricing to help limit the number of cars in the city centers, this is an impressive use of city funds to directly influence how people get around the city. A lifetime trolley pass is probably a minimal cost for the city (though most transit systems are already bleeding money without giving away free fares), but with enough given away, could make a drastic difference in the livability of the city.

[Images: Mejor en Tranvia]

[Hat tip: Springwise]

Follow @fastcompany.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Ten dollars a week too much for privilege of planet earth?

Perversely, part of me wants to see what would happen if the sea levels rise a couple of metres, the coastal cities get swamped, the rainfall dries up, the power goes out, the militias take to the streets. Part of me would love to see these squawking indignant right-to-luxury dickwipes learning how to live in the dust, scraping out dried plants from the earth and hoarding their remnants from the Beforetime. It’ll be a sight if it happens. Dirty red skies will rise up from the ground each morning like a curse. The only creatures that seem to thrive, the cockroaches and carrion birds, will swarm black against the sand and the sunset, rasping dry songs with their throats and with their legs. The water will be gone. The world will not remember ice floes. And for her sins, for ten dollars a week from each and every one of us, Julia Gillard will hang from the garret at the gates of Troy.
Read the whole post on HeathenScripture

Monday, July 11, 2011

On course to suffer global warming of four degrees

On course to suffer global warming of four degrees: "We have already warmed the planet by 1 degree, relative to pre-industrial times, and are almost certainly experiencing an associated increase in costly, extreme weather events to say the least. In Australia, while it is impossible to be definitive about the cause of any single weather event, a list of prime suspects includes last decade's crippling drought, Victoria's Black Saturday bushfires of 2009 and this year's devastating floods.

Not scary enough for some, but as our chief climate change adviser, Ross Garnaut, warned earlier this year, ''if we are seeing an intensification of weather events now, you ain't seen nothing yet''."

MUSC, College of Charleston students and staff to keep getting free CARTA bus fare

The Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA) has struck a deal to continue its transportation agreements with the Medical University of South Carolina and College of Charleston.

This is the sixth year that MUSC has had a partnership with CARTA and the eighth year for CofC of offering students, faculty and staff of both institutions unlimited rides with their organization identification card.

The result is free bus service to these riders, with costs covered by MUSC and College of Charleston.

“Our constant focus is to encourage use of public transit throughout the Charleston area,” said Christine Wilkinson, interim executive director for CARTA. “These two partnerships further our continual pursuit of that goal. We encourage other Charleston area businesses to consider how CARTA can help their employees and staff.”

CARTA also has ongoing partnerships with the City of Charleston, Charleston County School District and Roper St. Francis Hospital.

On average, as many as 65,000 trips per month are taken by MUSC and CofC ID holders. In addition, more than 30,000 riders take the Express routes each month, which are heavily utilized by MUSC and CofC.

“Continuing this important partnership is not only a benefit for our students, faculty and staff, but an investment in the community,” said John Runyon, director of business services at Medical University of South Carolina.

The partnerships offer a number of other benefits, which include:

  • Reduce traffic and congestion in the Charleston area
  • Reduce need for additional parking on campus
  • Accommodating to students and faculty – provides safe travel as well as bike racks for transportation around their respective campus
  • Brings the benefit to staff, faculty and students while increasing ridership and encouraging public transit
  • Increase in ridership enables CARTA to acquire additional federal funding for equipment and upgrades
  • Continuing a strong relationship with two valuable partners and involvement in regular events such as MUSC Green Fairs and CofC Orientation
  • Provides a valuable service to a diverse community

Monday, June 27, 2011

Cars make it hard to keep in touch

Human Transit: the car vs. personal technology (quote of the week): "'They can stay connected on a bus or a train. They can bring the office with them. They can bring their study with them. They can bring their friends with them. They can't if they're driving.'"

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Sunshine Coast Queensland -- free public transport for pensioners

Payroll Tax & Public Transport Reform at Centre of PolicyLaunch | Sunshine Coast Queensland: The Queensland Party will also work with councils across Queensland to implement a program of free public transport for pensioners between the 9am and 2pm. This will assist those in our community who often find it too expensive or difficult to travel,” added Mr McLindon.
...The revenue loss for such a policy is minor compared to the benefits of increased mobility and the associated economic activity of Queensland’s older generations. This measure will also assist to reduce the number of cars on the roads and the beauty of it is that when pensioners can travel in off-peak periods.”

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Arguments for Free Public Transportation

By Jody Hanson, eHow contributor.

Jody Hanson began writing professionally in 1992 to help finance her second around-the-world trip. In addition to her academic books, she has written for "International Living," the "Sydney Courier" and the "Australian Woman's Forum." Hanson holds a Ph.D. in adult education from Greenwich University. is a free practical advice & resource site.

updated: April 27, 2011

Arguments for Free Public Transportationthumbnail
Free public transportation takes the strain
off building more roads.

Free public transportation -- also known as zero-fare -- is not as radical an idea as it may initially seem. Public transportation is already heavily subsidized by tax dollars, so taking it one step further could have financial and social benefits. In 1995, Hasselt, a city of about 70,000 in Belgium, made its public transportation system free. The project was a success, as more passengers started using the service. The number of buses was increased and shuttles were added.

  1. Save Tax Dollars

    • When you calculate how many salary-hours go into handling money, selling tickets, chasing fare-evaders and cleaning up the litter from the tickets, the government may, in fact save money by making public transportation free. The bureaucracy involved in running a public transportation system is substantial, so stream-lining the operation would save money.

    Encourage Public Transportation

    • People tend to like services that are free. If people can see a benefit to taking the bus to work, rather than driving their cars, they may be willing to use public transportation even though their door-to-door time is slightly increased. When you weigh the costs of car operation and parking, free transportation becomes a viable option for those who want to save money.

    Reduce Pollution

    • The more people who use public transportation, the more pollution is reduced. This includes the fossil fuel consumption of cars, as well as noise pollution. Public transportation systems such as trams are particularly quiet and operate on electricity.

    Benefit Low-Income People

    • Even though public transportation costs less than running a car, it is still a large expense for those on a low or fixed income. Free public transportation would be a saving for people on welfare, students and minimum-wage earners. It would also encourage individuals to get rid of old, poorly maintained vehicles in favor of taking the free bus.

    Additional Benefits

    • Not having to spend time lining up to buy tickets would cut down on the time required to use public transport. Not printing tickets would save trees and cut back on litter. Being able to hop off and on public transportation makes it more appealing.


  • Photo Credit: Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images;

Monday, April 4, 2011

Capitalism’s war on the planet

GreenLeft Weekly: Sunday, April 3, 2011

Climate change is often called the greatest environment threat facing humanity.

The threat is very real. Unless we cut carbon pollution fast, runaway climate change will worsen existing environmental and social problems, and create new ones of its own.

But it’s no longer enough to simply refer to the climate crisis. Climate change is one part of a broader ecological disaster, brought about by an economic system that relies on constant growth, endless accumulation and ever-deepening human alienation.

A 2010 study published in Nature revealed some of the extent of this ecological crisis.

The study, which was led by Sweden’s Johan Rockstrom and included US climate scientist James Hansen, identified nine “planetary boundaries” that are critical for human life on the planet.

Along with climate change, these boundaries are: global freshwater use, chemical pollution, ocean acidification, land use change, biodiversity (the extinction rate), ozone levels in the stratosphere, aerosol (or small particle) levels in the atmosphere and the nitrogen and phosphorus cycles that regulate soil fertility (and hence food production).

The study said three of these critical planetary boundaries — climate, the nitrogen cycle and biodiversity loss — had already been crossed.

A further four — land use change, the phosphorus cycle, ocean acidification and freshwater use — are emerging problems. The scientists said these boundaries had not yet been breached, but could be soon if nothing is done.

The state of the ozone layer, which regulates the ultraviolet radiation from the sun hitting the Earth, was the only good news. A global treaty to phase out ozone depleting gasses, such as chlorofluorocarbons, seems to have made a difference.

The study’s authors said they didn’t yet know enough to measure the planetary boundaries for chemical pollution and aerosol levels.

In their 2010 book, The Ecological Rift, US Marxists John Bellamy Foster, Brett Clark and Richard York remark on this study: “The mapping out of planetary boundaries in this way gives us a better sense of the real threat to the Earth system.

“Although in recent years the environmental threat has come to be seen by many as simply a question of climate change, protecting the planet requires that we attend to all of these planetary boundaries, and others not yet determined.

“The essential problem is the unavoidable fact that an expanding economic system is placing additional burdens on a fixed earth system to the point of planetary overload … Business as usual projections point to a state in which the ecological footprint of humanity will be equivalent to the regenerative capacity of two planets by 2030.”

Capitalism, a grow-or-die system, must ignore the planet’s boundaries. But we cannot afford to: not if we are to secure a safe planet that can sustain human civilization.

As Foster, Clark and York conclude: “No solution to the world’s ecological problem can be arrived at that does not take the surmounting of capitalism, as an imperialist world system, as its object.

“It is time to take the planet back for sustainable human development.”

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Free public transport to reduce traffic: Mick Gallagher - Elections - News - Hornsby & Upper North Shore Advocate

Free public transport to reduce traffic: Mick Gallagher - Elections - News - Hornsby & Upper North Shore Advocate: "PUBLIC transport should be free to encourage residents to leave their cars at home, independent candidate for Hornsby Mick Gallagher said.

The former Hornsby mayor said free public transport would reduce traffic congestion, fuel consumption, noise and stress."

Thursday, February 24, 2011


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Traffic: Analysis shows 7.4 per cent of heart attacks were down to air pollution

AIR pollution causes more heart attacks than alcohol, drugs or physical exertion, according to a new study.

Despite the popular belief that eating and drinking are the worst triggers, travelling by car or bus are greater culprits.

Analysis shows 7.4 per cent of heart attacks were down to air pollution.

This was higher than the 6.2 per cent caused by physical exertion and the five per cent caused by both alcohol and coffee.

The study, published in The Lancet, shows that air pollution triggers more heart attacks than even anger and lung infections.

The authors say their findings are important as many people are not aware pollution plays a role in heart attacks.

The research was led by Dr Tim Nawrot from Hasselt University, Belgium.

He said that, of the “triggers” studied, taking cocaine was most likely to cause a heart attack in an individual – but traffic affected more of the population as many more people are exposed to it than take the drug. 23/02/2011

Monday, February 21, 2011

Wifi on public transport if Labor elected

WIFI will be free for commuters if the Labor Party is re-elected next month.

It will be available on a bus, ferry or train for commuters to check their emails, read the news or do their banking.

The free wifi will be installed by the end of 2011 on all metrobuses and Sydney Ferries, with the rest of the bus fleet and CityRail trains to follow.

The Government has also announced that by the end of this month, all Sydney Buses commuters will be able to send a text message and receive up-to-the-minute information about when their next bus will arrive.

If is re-elected, the Labor Party will extend the next bus SMS service to every bus in the metropolitan network, including private operators.

What a great idea! Yes, there needs to be an all-out effort to make public transport user-friendly and attract the bulk of commuters - including:
  • free Wifi connections,
  • space for wheel chairs, push chairs, shopping & even bikes
  • comfortable seating
  • on-board 'ambassadors' to offer directions, assistance & to deter anti-social behaviour,
  • priority lanes & traffic signals for buses
  • more bike & walking facilities
  • easy transfers & links
  • colour coded routes & vehicles
  • very frequent services
  • 24 hour operation
  • passenger shelters that actually protect people from the elements
  • modern no-emission buses & electric trains & trams & ferries
.... the list goes on - but the central ingredient to really get commuters onto decent public transport & slash car-dependency, pollution & oil consumption big time: make it free to use and frequent with easy access - no waiting, no tickets, no money handling, no cash box robberies, no parking woes, no traffic gridlock, reduce road accidents & resulting medical treatment... modern, civilised stress-free mobility for people.

FareFreeNZ Editor

Time for public investment to fight climate change | Green Left Weekly

Time for public investment to fight climate change | Green Left Weekly: "3. Boost investment in public transport, suburban, regional and inter-regional services, high-speed intercity rail and rail freight.

The Socialist Alliance would cut passenger fares and transition to a free public transport system. We must do this to radically shift away from our dependence on cars.

Most people would respond that this is going to cost a lot. Yes, it will. But it won’t cost nearly as much as it will cost our society if we don’t respond effectively to the climate change crisis."

Friday, February 18, 2011

A timely review of Melbourne’s transport options: on obscenely uneconomical choices and underperforming assets.

Frank Fisher*, 17.02.2011.

If anything needs the critical light of review it is urban transport. In the light of a possible Baillieu/Mulder review of urban commuting, here are a few thoughts on cars an public transport.

1  The majority transport or DODO: Driver Only Driver
Owned urban commuter car.

Other than public transport ticketing, which i address below, there are few things as uneconomic as the DODO. Currently DODOs work at less than 1% efficiency. For every 100 litre of petrol less than one litre actually shifts the driver; 99litres+ moves the car and enables its necessary infrastructure. The average engine converts petrol to motion at something like 15%. But no one drives engines, we drive cars. Cars are roughly 15 times heavier than the average driver, so a driver-in-a-car moves at 1% efficiency. However, a car takes a lot of energy to make, deliver to its driver and maintain over its life, some say as much as half the energy in the fuel it uses in its life! Further, it takes energy to scrap and recycle cars and a vast amount to build and maintain the infrastructures that enable cars to move where we want them to. These are roads, government and private support organisations ranging from registration departments to taxation offices, police, insurances, breakdown clubs, hospitals, more insurances, automobile chambers of commerce and so on. So the car’s real efficiency is actually much less than 1% … but no-one cares because a) we’ve paid a lot for our car [Driver Owned] and for putting it on the road and keeping it there and b) petrol’s cheaper than bottled water!

The craziness of this equation doesn’t end there. Owning our private “gutter decoration” [the DODO’s primary occupation] means that we spend many weeks of each year engaged in earning the money to pay for the privilege. Add this time to that actually spent in driving, parking and maintaining your DODO then divide that total into the number of kilometres travelled annually and you’ll find that the average speed attained is much less than that achieved by a combination of bicycle and public transport.

As if this inefficiency were not bad enough Americans and Brazilians compound it by feeding DODOs with biofuels made from human foodstuffs such as corn and sugar. So in addition to using less than 1% of these foods to move drivers, biofuels are themselves produced inefficiently in terms of the fuels etc. required for the farming and refining processes that make them!

Given all this, why one would bother to own one’s own car beats me. Once one’s disowned that generalised vehicle-for-all-purposes one can easily afford to rent the appropriate vehicle for the task and, for urban commuting, the appropriate vehicles are shoes, bicycles and public transport. These three being appropriate for our own health, our city’s health, the planet’s health and the health of our public and private purses. Moreover, there are currently a billion cars on Earth. Most Australians believe that all people deserve the right to live as we do. That means 9 billion cars driving some 20,000 km/year by the time human population tops out. So even if we all switched to little Indian Nanos, three times more efficient than our current auto-fleet we’ll be three times worse off than today – a totally unsustainable option.

2.  Ticketless Public Transport.

Even with the prospect of myki working “glitchlessly”, it is not hard to demonstrate that ticketing will not pay for itself for a long time let alone make any contribution to public transport itself. Aside from the fabulous cost of myki and its predecessor [$B3] there are many hidden costs involved with having the public pay public transport fares. I list some of these below but here i’d like to draw attention to some quite unrecognised costs that arise from the deliberate exclusion of our railways’ extensive real-estate assets from the public domain as a result of the necessity to exclude the “in-valid” [those who haven’t paid a fare] from our stations. In addition to the costs of vandalism control and damage restitution, site insecurity for passengers leads to reduced patronage, especially at night. But the most serious losses arise from the site rents foregone by excluding commerce and community activity from nearly all of our metropolitan area’s two hundred railway stations.

Tickets, as the old “Metcard” warning stressed, require public transport users to be “validated” before entering the system. To viscerally impress this requirement upon passengers, we surround our stations with high fences, excluding them from commercial and community use. Unstaffed buildings, often quite handsome, are locked and vandal-proofed. And, as if to say “no station is sacred”, the very open friendliness of pre-myki Southern Cross is now ruined by fences and barriers erected where never intended. Staffed stations themselves are under-utilised; Flinders St. Station being the most notorious example. The associated losses are not simply directly financial, they also manifest as losses to community and personal amenity. Instead of being friendly islands of community, stations have become isolated black holes literally avoided as such by late-night travellers.

Failing totally “free” public transport, an enlivening alternative to the present vacuous, destructive, fare-collection-related employment scheme called myki, is the public transport levy [PTL].

By collecting an annual Medicare-like PTL from all urban wage-earners, we’d know we’d paid something toward our urban public transport and then be able to use it free of demeaning encumbrances like barriers and ticket inspection. Where machines do the inspection, the demeanment is of concern. To argue against the veracity of machines takes determination and our tacit permission to be tracked financially, and more worryingly spatially, raises questions about the openness of our democracy.

Here is what it could mean:
·         public transport free at point of access with all the liberation that would imply.
·         shedding some of the taxes that are currently used to pay for public transport.
·         public transport free to rural visitors and tourists, just like water. Along with fast and regular rural rail, this would provide an incentive to use rural public transport to commute to the cities.
·         a built-in incentive for urban residents to use public transport – annual payment would remind us that we’d paid and therefore that we may as well use what we’d paid for.
·         an improvement in the status of travel on “The Met”. It would no longer be seen as the DODO’s “poor cousin”.
·         a dramatic decline in the deaths and injuries from crashes and the many diseases directly attributable to DODO-commuting (in Melbourne some 600 deaths annually).
·         a friendly, welcoming system where the stresses associated with requiring a ticket, along with the threats associated with not being able to produce one, were removed.
·         removal of favours to those wealthy enough to afford congestion taxes such as city parking fees [usually paid for by others] and fines. Thereby, avoidance of the resentment such favours generate.
·         the usual Medicare-like support for people for whom the levy would be an excessive burden.
·         removal of barriers to the poor to use public transport.
·         the “disarming” of the public transport system [as already outlined] with transit assistants replacing “fare police” and the return of the space & vacant buildings around railway platforms to commerce and the community.
·         a welcoming and attractive system, partly arising from the greater density of users that a ticketless system would bring!
·          removal of the threat to monitor citizens’ movements by tracking us through myki.
·         enhanced participation rates. These would provide the political constituency for dramatically improving the current carrying capacities of our metropolitan transit. Relieving rail-congestion is, at least in the long run, so much cheaper and healthier than relieving road-congestion. Consider the neglected costs of making good the planetary damage caused by global warming and the many other negative pollution and land degradation effects of DODO commuting. Currently these are not priced and go unpaid by present generations.
·         a more open and equitable system in which payment for the system was overt rather than covert as at present where real payment of public transport comes from consolidated revenues. An annual PTL bill could indicate the proportion of the total cost of metro-transit that the levy actually covered.

For all this it must be recognised that dramatically increasing the capacity of our urban rail systems is no small feat. It will cost billions, take time and create substantial public disruption. Indeed, an argument against the PTL is precisely the government’s fear of overloading the current system! For all that, we live in a representative democracy and the government requires constituency before it acts, so overloading the system is in a sense the only language it can hear.
One of the most valuable implications of a PTL and a dramatic improvement in public transport availability would be the support that it would give to Melbourne’s best kept secret: the effectiveness of the bicycle-rail collaboration. Long ago, Alan Parker pointed out that the fastest, cheapest, healthiest and most sustainable way to get around much of the Melbourne Metro Area was [and today still is] a combination of bicycle and rail. I.e. bicycle to and from rail. It requires improved bike parking facilities at stations and an improved capacity to carry bikes on trains. With bike-rail, Melbourne becomes translucent. No peak hour traffic jams, no parking problems, no need for fuel and maintenance, no depreciation on the car, no speeding fines and, most of all, two to three times faster than the DODO because there’s no time wasted earning the money to pay for it, to park it or to service it!

* Professor, Faculty of Design & National Centre for
   Sustainability, Swinburne University of Technology.

Penrith to get free shuttle bus

PENRITH’S major attractions will be more easily accessible from next month when the city’s new free shuttle bus service begins.

State Transport Minister John Robertson announced the new service on Tuesday night, a week after a report appeared in the Press questioning why Penrith had been overlooked.

Mr Robertson said the bright green shuttle buses - which begin operation on March 14 - would provide services for up to 9500 people a week in Penrith. PenrithPress

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Free buses a huge success - service expanding

Metro taken for a ride Tasmania News - The Mercury - The Voice of Tasmania: "FREE bus services in Hobart were so popular over the weekend that Metro had to add an extra 20 runs to its Hobart timetable.

Metro's 'Have a weekend on us' campaign encouraged hundreds of locals and tourists to take advantage of free public transport in Hobart, Launceston and Burnie.

Metro chief executive Heather Haselgrove said it was too early to give exact numbers, but a contingency plan to roll out more buses if needed was applied on Saturday with the company adding 20 extra services in Hobart.

The first-time initiative was launched as a way of encouraging people who had not used public transport for many years to get back on buses."

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Fare-free weekend buses in Tasmania

Tasmanian government minister launches fare-free buses in the weekends to "reduce traffic and parking congestion" and to "encourage more people to use public transport." Great! - but aren't these valid & compelling reasons to make it free every day?

Editor, FareFreeNZ

Fare Free Weekend on the Buses

Metro is offering free travel on its buses on the weekend commencing February 12.

Launching Metro’s “Have a Weekend on us” campaign today, the Minister for Sustainable Transport and Alternative Energy, Nick McKim, said the fare free weekend aimed to encourage more people to use public transport.
Mr McKim said by offering a weekend of free travel on regular services and routes, Metro was giving Tasmanians a chance to experience bus travel.
He said the free service would also reduce traffic and parking congestion on what was one of the busiest weekends of the year.
“This particular weekend is packed with major events and travelling on Metro buses provides a safe, convenient and enjoyable alternative to taking your own car,” Mr McKim said.
Events over the weekend include Festivale in Launceston, the Hobart Regatta, Hobart Cup, the Wooden Boat Festival and a Sheffield Shield cricket match at Bellerive Oval.
Metro Chief Executive Officer Heather Haselgrove said the “Have a Weekend on Us” campaign sought to encourage people who did not generally ride on buses to consider switching to Metro for future travel.
“Our aim is to increase public transport patronage in Tasmania and the fare free weekend gives people, especially those who haven’t ridden a bus in many years, the opportunity to see what it is like,” Ms Haselgrove said.
“We’re encouraging people to use buses not just to go to and from major events on this weekend, but to use regular services between other destinations – to see family and friends, go to the beach, go to shopping centres and so on.
“We believe that by showing people how easy and convenient it is, they will be more likely to see buses as a sensible alternative for daily commuting.”
Mr McKim said increasing the use of public transport had enormous long-term environmental and road safety benefits for the community and in the long-run would save people money.
The availability of the free fare services varies from region to region. In Hobart where there is a public holiday on Monday 14 February, it includes Saturday, Sunday and Monday; in Launceston the free services operate Saturday and Sunday and in Burnie the free services will run on Saturday.
For people attending Festivale on the evening of Friday 11 February, there will be free bus services on major routes from City Park (Cimitiere St before Tamar St) from 11.05pm to get people home from the event.

Tasmanian Government Media Release
Nick McKim MP
Minister for Sustainable Transport & Alternative Energy.
3 February 2011.