Estonia to become the world’s first free public transport nation
May 20, 2018 12:28 AM   Subscribe

Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, made public transport free for its residents in 2013. The program is now expanding to the rest of the country, including rural connections. You'll still need to be a Tallinn resident to dodge the fare in the capital, but state-run bus travel in rural municipalities will be free for visitors as well.

Estonia being the first at something [previously] and [previouslier].
posted by Vesihiisi (10 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
 
And the world is watching with bated breath.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:47 AM on May 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


Russia cuts invasion cost estimates.
posted by clawsoon at 5:55 AM on May 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


As much as I'd love to see that implemented here, I imagine it would be the same shit as always when something is done to public transportation: crap on drivers' working conditions by forcing longer shifts for same pay and then call it off because "it doesn't work" while increasing the fares from the previous values to "improve service" and providing exactly the same service as before. Either that, or making it free for tourists, because it would look soooooo progressive in the travel sections of NY Times or The Guardian.
posted by lmfsilva at 9:01 AM on May 20, 2018 [5 favorites]


There's an interesting class aspect I've noticed in places that have had free transit, which is that it's seen as a normal option for everyone, while the bus that costs $2 is looked down on as something for the poor. Not having to have the right amount of change on you at all times means you can get on a bus more spontaneously as well. For the rural buses I could see a mother deciding to take the kids to town for the day on the bus instead of driving if it didn't involve any extra planning.
posted by Space Coyote at 9:18 AM on May 20, 2018 [9 favorites]


In past discussions with a local transit agency about ridership and pricing, I asked if they had thought about making their transit system free for all users. They said they tried it as a promotional gimmick for a week, and they had "too many riders." I had to bite my tongue to keep from shouting "THAT IS THE BEST KIND OF PROBLEM TO HAVE!"

Unfortunately, we don't have significant congestion in the region, so saying "we can reduce congestion by making buses free for everyone" isn't much of a selling point. Still, reduced road wear and fewer crashes due to fewer vehicles (and significantly safer drivers) should be strong enough selling points alone. But it's not, because people bitch about "subsidized transportation" (when they don't ask how much they pay for the roads they drive upon every day) and loss of "freedom," and longer commute times when you have to plan your schedule around routes and time tables is a real shortcoming of transit, if transit can't bypass congestion.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:11 AM on May 20, 2018 [6 favorites]


There are two obstacles to providing public goods: the skepticism that it might not work, and the terror that it might. Full-Auto-Lux-Gay-Space-Commies unite, you have only your metro-cards to lose!
posted by Anchorite_of_Palgrave at 11:24 AM on May 20, 2018 [12 favorites]


Add this to the list titled, "how is it possible smart people object to this?" And the very slightly smaller list titled, "how is it possible journalists can present this as controversial without deciding to quit their jobs and walk into the sea?"

I suppose it's not entirely surprising that someone named Dr. Cats is so silly they're impossible to parody. But, when the desperate search for balanced reporting leads to this sort of article structure, it's really hard to maintain enthusiasm for the journalistic profession.

None the less, hazzah, Tallinn! And thanks for the post.
posted by eotvos at 11:37 AM on May 20, 2018 [3 favorites]


I had to bite my tongue to keep from shouting "THAT IS THE BEST KIND OF PROBLEM TO HAVE!"

I don't know the situation, but there's a difference between "buses are operating at slightly over optimal occupancy" which is fine by me, and "buses are skipping stops because people have their backs pressed against the front door and not enough people are exiting", which happened to me a lot, including times I missed a stop because of people that instead of going to the back of the bus as others leave, stay in the front like a jackass.
posted by lmfsilva at 12:59 PM on May 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


This warms my squishy heart.
posted by aniola at 4:20 PM on May 22, 2018 [1 favorite]


I don't know the situation, but there's a difference between "buses are operating at slightly over optimal occupancy" which is fine by me, and "buses are skipping stops because people have their backs pressed against the front door and not enough people are exiting"

There are a number of differences The second case indicates there is enough demand to get more services on, since the people you support clearly want and will use them. The second case also means that a lot more other traffic has been displaced, reducing congestion and pollution, probably allowing faster travel times and thus social and economic benefit.
posted by biffa at 3:44 AM on May 23, 2018 [1 favorite]


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