Monday, December 15, 2008

Mental Block Hop

On a loop around from our post on transit and energy usage, Matt discusses the issues of fares and the thought that transit should have little or no cost to use, just like empty roads. BUT, only if they are not crowded. That is time for congestion pricing. Empty buses, as that study showed do us no good. Heck I wouldn't mind if Muni were free during off periods. I was talking to a friend today who mentioned when he has his Muni pass, it makes him take transit more, because all he has to do is hop on. I would do the same thing, not worrying about getting quarters out of my bag. As he said, it's just enough of a mental block to discourage it, just like losing my parking spot discourages me from driving.


jon said...

first thing i do when visiting nyc is invest in a day pass for the MTA for this exact reason. when you have an unlimited pass it encourages oneself to hop on that bus or train that you see going in the direction youre headed even if only for a few blocks. one sees it as value by squeezing another ride out of that $7.50 pass and thereby reducing the cost per trip for the individual.

this is the nice thing about fareless squares especially ones with simple to understand free zone boundaries.

its also like many with owning a car... theyve made the investment now they want to use it as much as possible to take advantage of their purchase.

Ryan said...

In a similar vein, I adore the Charlie Card that the T has implemented here in Boston. Even though I am an occasional rider all I have to do is add $20 every month and that covers me for the times I need to take the bus or train. I don't even take it out of my wallet. It is just always there ready for me to use.

BruceMcF said...

The simplest off-peak discount is a round-trip ticket for the cost of an on-peak one-way ticket.

Not only encourages those who can to shift to off-peak, freeing up peak capacity, but saves on ticketing costs too.

Also simple is the 9am to 5pm free bus zone in an urban area with a big enough downtown for a free bus (trolley, light rail, etc.) zone to be useful.

Slightly less simple, but a stronger incentive to take peak public transport instead of driving, is a free bus zone for anyone holding a public transport ticket of any sort into the urban center.

arcady said...

Caltrain has a useful off peak discount: any monthly pass becomes an all-zones pass on weekends. This means that someone who lives in Santa Clara County can get a two-zone Caltrain pass, and have the use of all VTA and SamTrans buses, Caltrain in the relevant zones on weekdays for intra-county trips, and Caltrain in all zones on weekends, for trips to SF. If only Muni were included in the deal... Also it would be nice to have a single uberpass that covered all Bay Area Transit for a month (and for much less than the cost of buying passes for everything).

Bob Davis said...

When Muni jacked up the cable car fare a few years ago, I "boycotted" the grip cars--with the exception of "free muni" day on the 100th anniversary of the 1906 Earthquake. Then I found that folks my age could get a 1-month Senior Pass for $10.00, which was good on nearly every Muni service, including cable cars. Even for a brief visit, this makes sense. (I live in the LA area) Regarding "free zones"--they've been tried in many cities, the main problem is there are too many teenagers and street people who ride for free and make nuisances of themselves, discouraging patronage by people who know how to behave themselves and expect the same attitude from others.

Richard Layman said...

Free transit makes sense, but I think it's a political nonstarter, at least right now, and therefore not really worth pursuing, except in certain situations.

E.g., I wrote a paper on creating a linked transportation and land use planning paradigm in DC, and as part of a more nuanced typology of the DC transit network, I proposed a new level ("tertiary") of intra-neighborhood transit, moving people to local activity centers and to transit nodes. This could be free. And it makes sense conceptually, as does fareless square in Portland.

But the cost of providing free surface transit within the entire city for all routes is at least $70 million/year (the estimated farebox revenue) beyond whatever subsidy is already provided by the city, which is at least that much.

Figuring out the additional subsidy for underground transit would be harder and it would be much higher.

And as the SF study of the possibility of free transit made clear, there are huge upfront costs on new equipment and additional personnel, to meet the new demand generated by the elimination of fares. There ain't money for that