Pity Kosky couldn’t think of it

Following an Age story about the continuing debacle that is Myki, this eminently sensible suggestion in the comments:

Simple solution, make it free and avoid all this Bultish.

Every taxpayer dollar spent on ticket thugs – sorry, “inspectors” – is a wasted dollar. At least that dollar going towards getting people off the roads and onto a train would actually be achieving something.

Other cities have managed it.

At the very least, lower the fares so public transport users aren’t paying more for leaving the car at home.

UPDATE: Wikipedia has a more expansive list of zero-fare cities here.

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28 responses to “Pity Kosky couldn’t think of it

  1. Yay Troia with it’s population under 8,000 has free public transport. Should thus work in Melbourne.

  2. Was that the smallest one you could find on that list? Sheffield has 600,000 or so.

  3. “Simple solution, make it free and avoid all this Bultish.”

    Been saying it for years (even told Kennets minister of transport), fact of the matter is public transport is unprofitable, totally unsuitable for privatisation. In fact I wouldn’t mind betting the PT costs Victorians more now than it did in govt hands. PT is something that actually deserves our taxes.

    Kennet was WRONG! Bracks/Brumby missed the opportunity to buy it back, they all have utterly disgraceful records on PT.

  4. Sheffield has a free bus service equivalent to our free city circle tram.

    Otherwise you pay for public transport.

  5. Zagreb has 800,000 people – free public transport. Hawaii has 150,000 people – free public transport.
    Aubagne has 100,000. Chapel Hill has 70,000. Hasselt has 80,000.

    We do have a larger population than those cities, but why should that make it harder?

  6. I have no problem with free public transport, as long as the distribution of services is equitable.

    As it currently stands I don’t think any Australian capital city meets this test.

  7. How do you measure the equity of service distribution?

    Give us an example of how Darwin currently doesn’t ‘meet this test’.

  8. free public transport… how would that help the rich? think of the Keane family, billionaire owners of Kamco, the consortium in charge. a $350m myki “blowout” will help towards a new yacht maybe, or at least pay out those sexual harassment lawsuits. giving it away for free, what benefits would that give struggling super-rich families?

  9. Hasselt is one example I looked at in some detail. Yes, they have a free municipal bus service. The thing is that Hasselt plays the role of CBD for a larger region, and the transport between Hasselt and the regions (equivalent to suburban services here) still costs you. Results from a user survey suggest the free buses did more to reduce walking and cycling than to reduce car travel.

    Most of the other ‘free public transport’ examples are of a similar nature: cities that have introduced very limited free travel zones in their central areas in an effort to reduce local car congestion and/or encourage visitors. Perth has done it too. It doesn’t do much to encourage public transport use overall because with a multimodal fare system the only beneficiaries, apart from tourists and CBD residents, are those who drive a car to the edge of the CBD and only then catch public transport. In many cases (Perth included), the free CBD travel is enacted in conjunction with the building of huge car parks on the CBD periphery.

    To my knowledge no major city has made any sizeable portion of its public transport system free of charge. While it has a nice public-goods justification, the biggest problem with it is that every time public transport is improved or extended, the government would have to raise taxes to pay for it.

    Public health and education are at least self-limiting, since people generally try to avoid getting sick, and most don’t have to repeat their schooling. Demand for transport doesn’t have the same natural constraints. (That’s also why no-one has ever been able to reduce traffic congestion by building more roads.)

    On the other hand, trying to run our public transport on an honesty system is futile as long as the system is as hostile to its passengers as it is in Melbourne. Bringing back the tram conductors and the station staff would cost less than Myki and give us a self-enforcing fare collection system. Then we could use that money to actually improve services.

  10. Greater Sheffield has 600,000 – an area covering Rotherham, Chesterfield, Doncaster and Barnsley. Sheffield proper is 250,000. However, both bus and tram *were* fairly cheap there (until about a year ago).

    I don’t see that extending free-zones will ever happen in Australia. :/

  11. I know Sydney’s public transport (joke that it is), far better than Melbourne’s. Some parts of Sydney have almost no public transport. I can see residents of those areas being annoyed at paying the tax dollars for those who stand to gain more benefit from free public transport. The residents of rural towns even moreso.

    That said, there are plenty of people who don’t (directly) benefit from public spending on education, health, etc. And even those who choose to drive benefit from an improved train system if it keeps the traffic on the roads down.

    From the RailCorp 2006-2007 Annual Report

    the proportion of the operating cost of the railway met by the travelling public through fares has continued to decline and was 23.8 per cent in 2006-07.

    If there’s a breakdown of the expenditure indicating that spent on ticketing machines, tickets, inspectors, etc, I can’t find it.

    2006-2007 CityRail ticket revenue: $500m. 2006-2007 NSW total budget: $43b. So roughly a 1% increase in the state budget would make the trains free. Call it 2% to include busses and ferries. Some of that you get back from savings in ticketing costs. Probably have to spend more to improve the service to cope with increased demand. But then gain more savings on reduced costs in road casualties, health care due to pollution – hey, maybe you could claim carbon credits by getting people off the roads.

  12. Of course, if people didn’t feel the need to go out of their way to fare evade there wouldn’t be the need for ticket inspectors (or “thugs”, as you call them) at all.

    I find it amusing that people demand a high standard when it comes to PT, but aren’t willing to pay for it in return.

  13. Oh, that said, I agree Myki is and will continue to be a complete clusterfuck.

  14. “Of course, if people didn’t feel the need to go out of their way to fare evade there wouldn’t be the need for ticket inspectors”

    And if there were now fare then there would be no evasion or reason to hire the thugs AKA inspectors.

    No reason for Miki if there were no fares, an INSTANT saving of $1.35 billion. That ought to cover the fares for a while.

  15. Ooops, that should read “If there were no fare.”

  16. I know nothing about Myki except what i’ve read in the papers, but don’t you have to ‘tag off’ after your journey in order to get charged the correct fare to your card? If people don’t tag off they get 2 chances to do it properly before being fined on the 3rd chance?

    This suggests to me there is no need for ticket inspectors, because there are no tickets. And what Rob said about free public transport saving money on all the costly peripherals that come with a fare system.

  17. Calling working people ‘thugs’ is pretty low.

    What other workers do you blanket categorise derogatorily? Nurses?

  18. “Calling working people ‘thugs’ is pretty low.”

    I’ve personally witnessed Ticket Inspectors assaulting people for the misdemeanor of fare evasion. In my opinion assault is a greater crime. Loads of thugs have jobs, or are you that naive that you think that every working person is the salt of the earth?

    Assaulting people for petty crime is rather low!

    You do realise that ticket inspectors in Melbourne use tactics that Victoria Police wont use themselves because they are deemed too dangerous? No, you didn’t realise that did you or you’d likely agree with my description.

    “What other workers do you blanket categorise derogatorily? Nurses?”

    How about you try and stay on topic and stop trolling? Really m your efforts are pathetic, maybe you enjoy the humiliation?

  19. “I know nothing about Myki except what i’ve read in the papers, but don’t you have to ‘tag off’ after your journey in order to get charged the correct fare to your card? If people don’t tag off they get 2 chances to do it properly before being fined on the 3rd chance? ”

    yeah i was reading the myki instruction manual.

    its so straight forward!
    simply register your “my myki” account online, top up with myki money or choose the myki pass or a short term myki ticket (from selected outlets) then touch on and off at the myki reader, which then will tell you:
    green light or
    red light or
    green and yellow light or
    red and green light

    and youre away!

    this makes my tram trips so much more efficient… and to think i used to have to deal with those inefficient tram conductors

  20. “Calling working people ‘thugs’ is pretty low.”

    I’ve personally witnessed Ticket Inspectors assaulting people for the misdemeanor of fare evasion. In my opinion assault is a greater crime. Loads of thugs have jobs, or are you that naive that you think that every working person is the salt of the earth?

    Assaulting people for petty crime is rather low!

    You do realise that ticket inspectors in Melbourne use tactics that Victoria Police wont use themselves because they are deemed too dangerous? No, you didn’t realise that did you or you’d likely agree with my description.

    “What other workers do you blanket categorise derogatorily? Nurses?”

    How about you try and stay on topic and stop trolling? Really m your efforts are pathetic, maybe you enjoy the humiliation?

  21. Good point someone made about low cost recovery on Sydney trains. It’s also the case on Melbourne trains and especially on buses. At the same time though, it’s a characteristic of lousy public transport.

    Systems that offer a very good service and attract high patronage typically recover 70 to 90 percent of their costs. (Which also means the good systems are also the most expensive to make fare-free.)

    Low cost recovery in Australian cities is largely owing to excessive layers of middle management, and the concentration of patronage in peak periods – requiring more driver shifts that sit idle for the rest of the day. If more was done to grow patronage outside peak periods, this would drastically improve cost recovery, because for the most part they would use resources that are already available.

    Unfortunately, encouraging PT use outside peak hour requires a lot more attention to network planning, because it takes more effort to attract people who aren’t ‘captive’ to the system, and in Australia we’ve done little to make public transport compete with the car. But making it free won’t make it any more competitive with car travel: it requires the sort of service improvements that recover their cost in systems that charge fares, but are pure red ink in systems that don’t.

  22. C’mon wordpress, you aren’t moderating my posts in other threads on this blog…

  23. Cool:
    _____________________

    “Calling working people ‘thugs’ is pretty low.”

    I’ve personally witnessed Ticket Inspectors assaulting people for the misdemeanor of fare evasion. In my opinion assault is a greater crime. Loads of thugs have jobs, or are you that naive that you think that every working person is the salt of the earth?

    Assaulting people for petty crime is rather low!

    You do realise that ticket inspectors in Melbourne use tactics that Victoria Police wont use themselves because they are deemed too dangerous? No, you didn’t realise that did you or you’d likely agree with my description.

    “What other workers do you blanket categorise derogatorily? Nurses?”

    How about you try and stay on topic and stop trolling? Really m your efforts are pathetic, maybe you enjoy the humiliation?

  24. Bullshit!!!! ^^^ How frustrating!

  25. its so straight forward!

    Of course the system will have it’s flaws, and if recent history of Victorian public transport is any guide it’ll probably be totally fucked. My point is that if there are no tickets then in theory you don’t need ticket inspectors.

  26. The Myki system is far too simple. Before being issued with a ticket, commuters should undergo an interview with a caseworker to prove that they are honest travellers. Then, after 6-8 weeks of background checks, a prospective commuter will be mailed a provisional ticket and PIN number. After boarding a service, they will provide 100 points of ID to the driver, validate their ticket, note the details of the journey in a log book, and fill in a seat request form. Before leaving the bus or carriage, an application to exit must be approved by head office. Failure to comply with these requirements will make the commuter liable to a $100,000 fine and/or seven years hard labour.

  27. lol colin

    and validating your ticket requires a light show like Close encounters of the third kind

  28. Missing from this and almost all debate on free transport is the fact that the autosprawl system is heavily subsidized and extremely wasteful.

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