Saturday, April 20, 2013

Scottish Socialist Party has long advocated free public transport Scottish Socialist Party has been examining the issue for some time and has been impressed by the experience of the Belgian city of Hasselt, in Flanders.

In 1997 the authorities there faced chronic congestion, poor air quality and pressure from the car lobby. But instead of building more roads they decided on an altogether more radical approach.

They abolished the fares on their entire public transport system.

Critics scoffed at them, said it was madness and forecast that people would never leave their beloved cars just because the bus was free.

Yet in the space of three years passenger numbers in Hasselt increased tenfold from 330,000 in 1996 to 3.7million.

The new scheme also led to lower pollution levels as air quality improved. Road accident rates fell, billions were saved on road building and repairs and social inclusion rates improved markedly.

The Mayor of Hasselt Mr Steve Stevaert was so impressed that he concluded: "We don't need any more new roads, we need new thought highways."

The SSP advocates replicating the remarkable success enjoyed in Hasselt on a nationwide basis by introducing free travel for all passengers on buses, trains, Glasgow's underground system, Edinburgh's trams and ferries.

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