Over the last couple of weeks, protestors in Brazil demanded less corruption and improvements to the nation's public services. In particular, a free transit activist group staged mass demonstrations over bus fare increases. The group, mostly university students, got the fare hikes that triggered the protests canceled, the AP reported.
The group is not stopping there, though; even after meeting with Brazil’s President, Dilma Rousseff, it is still demanding the end of transit fares, in keeping with its original platform.
In another AP story, polls show that the majority of Brazilians “support the protests, while demanding more services for the heavy taxes they pay.”
However, adds the AP, Brazil’s economy is struggling, and the country is dealing with rising inflation. Both factors make investing more money in public services even more of a challenge.
Then again, there may be something to the idea of fare-free transit on larger systems, argues an article in The Economist. It says that buses and subways should be free to ride in an effort to reduce congestion and increase service quality. Fares cost a significant amount of money to collect, the story points out, referencing a 2007 report in New York magazine that found 6% of the MTA’s budget went to fare collection — maintaining the system and wasted fuel from idling buses, not to mention lost time.
The article also refers to a New York Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) study that totaled the amount of time wasted as riders waited to board and pay fares on one run of one bus route. That turned out to be 16 minutes and 16 seconds, or over a quarter of the total run. Moving to a proof-of-payment system on many of its lines has helped, but could making the system free to board help even more?
Fare free transit service is not unheard of, of course. Some Europe and U.S. cities have experimented with the idea. Europe appears to have had better luck with it, says a story in Planetizen.
The idea of fare-free transit may not gain much traction here in the U.S. anytime soon, especially given the current political climate. Still, is it possible that the movement in Brazil could be the tipping point for other countries, including the U.S., to re-examine how they improve their transit service and cover the expense?
In case you missed it...
Read our METRO blog, "Transit expands its list of partners."
Agencies that use Twitter to respond to users’ complaints or answer questions get more positive Twitter reaction and more civil discourse online, according to Lisa Schweitzer the author of a recent study analyzing tweets of public transit agencies. “It’s about the marketing potential of social media — a lot of public transit agencies are simply tweeting their problems to the world by blasting out late service announcements. That’s not a good use of Twitter,” she says. “Transit agencies can influence the tone of the discussion by interacting with patrons online,” Schweitzer explains. “It gives people something to respond to, and it reminds people that somebody is listening.”
Usually by early January, I will hopefully have taken down the last of our holiday decorations and eaten or given away the remaining sweets that have become a part of my regular diet during the month of December. Then, of course like most people, I’ll think about ways I want to improve myself for the coming year. Whether it be exercising more (walking from the parking lot to my office doesn’t count), eating less ice cream or managing my email better. The latter practice alone would help improve my efficiency at work immensely. I’m sure you probably feel the same way.
A new National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) study solidifies what the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) Transit Savings Report has been telling us for years now: riding public transportation can save users money.
June 20 will mark the 8th annual National Dump the Pump Day sponsored by the American Public Transportation Association, in partnership with the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Driving a bus never looked easy. Living in California and being stuck in my car as much as I am, I’ve always had tremendous respect for the men and women who operate buses on a daily basis. So, when the call came that I would get my shot to drive in Sunday’s APTA Bus Roadeo, I was both excited and nervous.