public transportI ran across this link in the comments over at SCM’s latest post.

Here’s the US blog.

Here’s an excellent article on fare-free transit.

Some of the arguments are based on global warming, and I’m not really so sure about global warming science, really. “Bad liberal”, I know, *smacks self on nose with newspaper*, but sometimes pseudoscience becomes “mainstream”.It’s true. I am very pro-science and “believe in” the scientific method, but really bad science makes it into the mainstream fairly often, and it takes a lot of curiosity and passion to identify that when it happens. I can give you multiple examples of pseudoscience going mainstream from medical science, and I’m unconvinced that climatology is immune to “mainstream pseudoscience”. I suspect, by the way, that global warming is real. I’m just not 100% sure on it.

But anyway, I’m really more impressed by the aspects of fare-free transit that would be beneficial to Memphis in particular; sprawl reduction, access to employment, and perhaps most appealing of all, reducing the number of cars on the road, making the process of getting from point A to point B safer. I mean, driving in Memphis is freakin’ scary! And think of all the gas money that could be saved or redirected into the local economy.

I did a google scholar search on fare-free transit earlier, and the numerous naysayers all seem to want to point back to Austin TX as “proof” that it “can’t” work in a big city in the US. I see Austin as an example of “how NOT to do it”. I think we could aim for “free at point of service” access, and plan to not repeat Austin’s mistakes.

I also think Memphis, with and because of all it’s many problems, would be perfect for the next demonstration project in “free at point of service” transit. We’re not rich, and are always looking for a good deal, so “we’ll” use public transportation if it’s good. The “criminals on buses” issue can be troubleshot. As far as the homeless hanging out on buses issue goes…we really, really need better services for the homeless in Memphis. This should not be an issue, although it is. So we’d have to hit two birds with two stones here.

But I think “free at point of service” public transit should be on the long-term, not now, not next year, but eventually, agenda for ideas worth exploring.