Sunday, January 19, 2020

Why stop at free travel?

Interesting article in the Times of London a couple of days ago, which complements the book review in the December Socialist Standard.
Here’s an extract from the Times article:
“The city of Olympia was preparing to replace the elderly ticket machines on buses with electronic card readers when transport officials hit upon an alternative that would be cheaper, faster and more convenient: free travel.
This month the capital of Washing­ton state became the latest in the United States to experiment with free public transport. The idea, which once seemed far-fetched and rather Euro­pean in the land of the motorcar, is being considered across the country.
Councillors in Kansas City, Missouri, with half a million residents, voted unanimously last month to make the buses free. They plan to cancel fares this year. In Worcester, the second larg­est city in Massachusetts, the city council has indicated that it would support waiving bus fares, while in Lawrence, north of Boston, buses on three lines serving poorer neighbourhoods were made free in September, leading to an increase in passengers.( …)
In Olympia officials felt it was more efficient to stop charging fares than to upgrade payment systems. “It costs a lot of money to collect money,” Ann Freeman-Manzanares, head of the city’s transit agency, told the broadcaster OPB. Buses were regularly delayed by people trying to pay. Removing the fares removed a source of .”conflict”. “We can be speedier at what we do.””
And there are still people around who say that this sort of thing is against “human nature”. But if it will work under capitalism it surely will in socialism.


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