Free Transit Can Improve Cities

A small city in France had a problem: their transit system was failing and it was expensive to run. Their solution was to make ridership free for all, and it has turned out to be a success that other cities are looking into.

The motivations for making a transit system free are obvious. Increased ridership can relieve traffic, improve the environment, boost the system’s efficiency, give residents more spending money, help the poor, and rejuvenate central business districts. Unfortunately, the Châteauroux report contains little large-scale analysis of the effects of the system.

But as it turns out, the change nearly paid for itself. Forty-seven percent of bus-goers were already riding for free, and tickets covered only 14 percent of the city’s transit expenses. By slightly increasing the transit tax on big local businesses while eliminating the costs of printing, ticket-punching technology and the human infrastructure of ticket sales, the city turned a profit on the transit system in ’03, ’04, ’05, and ’07. Since ’08, returns have not been as positive, though the report attributes that to a shift in control from the city to the region.

Read more at The Atlantic Cities.

Thanks Mike!

Car Free Cities are Always an Option

Today I’ll cut right to the chase: car free cities are thriving in Europe. Awesome.

A quarter of households in Britain – more in the larger cities, and a majority in some inner cities – live without a car. Imagine how quality of life would improve for cyclists and everyone else if traffic were removed from areas where people could practically choose to live without cars. Does this sound unrealistic, utopian? Did you know many European cities are already doing it?

Vauban in Germany is one of the largest car-free neighbourhoods in Europe, home to more than 5,000 people. If you live in the district, you are required to confirm once a year that you do not own a car – or, if you do own one, you must buy a space in a multi-storey car park on the edge of the district. One space was initially provided for every two households, but car ownership has fallen over time, and many of these spaces are now empty.

Vehicles are allowed down the residential streets at walking pace to pick up and deliver, but not to park. In practice, vehicles are rarely seen moving here. It has been taken over by kids as young as four or five, playing, skating and unicycling without direct supervision. The adults, too, tend to socialise outdoors far more than they would on conventional streets open to traffic (behaviour that’s echoed in the UK, too).

Read the full article at the Guardian.

A Successful Rubbish Free Year

A couple in New Zealand successfully completed a rubbish free year (Google cache). I’m a little late on this since they finished in February, but it’s always inspirational to read that people can live trash free.

We celebrated the end of Rubbish Free Year with a 100% rubbish free event at our house on February the 1st. No rubbish was created during preparations apart from one piece of gladwrap (I thought the cheese monger at the local farmers market sold their rounds with out plastic around them but unfortunatly they don’t). At the party there was a rubbish ‘incident’ when someone attempted to bring a packet of chips. Apart from that though we hosted well over 100 people without a drop of rubbish.

Thanks Shea!

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