Dissecting a Translink Policy

I had a thought this morning.

Translink, the local bus and rail service, provides transport tickets for a price. If you travel after 0930 in the morning, tickets are reduced in price. This is to entice you to travel later.

This is exactly the wrong thing to do.

It’s designed to alleviate crowding on busy commuter vehicles during rush hours. It doesn’t really work because people travel when they need to.

We need to encourage more people to travel on a bus or train before 0930 thereby alleviating traffic pressure while not impacting productivity. My solution would be to make all bus and train fares free before 9 o’clock. If that doesn’t encourage more people to leave the car at home, nothing will.

(Either way, price escalation can be a breach of EU consumer legislation).

100% electric transportation and 100% solar by 2030

I don’t find just Tony Seba believable, I find his conclusions inevitable. While I am sceptical on driverless cars, it’s because of human nature not because of doubts about the technology.

When you add the variables of the efficiency of electric motors, the possibilities of software for improving how we drive and the virtually endless resources of renewable energies, the result is plain.

This is why I’m starting a new thing. This.

Why should public transport be free?

Because it satisfies environmental impacts. It will overnight reduce the number of cars on the roads and reduce carbon emissions. It will also reduce the numbers of cars that are bought (a number that has been steadily increasing for years). Less than 5% of our workforce use public transport. Fewer cars will mean vastly reduced traffic and that means the buses will become faster and more reliable and it will reduce wear and tear on the roads for those road users who will still have to maintain a car for practicality reasons. Fewer cars may also encourage more people to use cycling as a means of travel.

Because it satisfies economic impacts. People will spend their money on goods and services. Individuals who are currently economically active because they consider that a bus journey will wipe out nearly £2000 of their minimum wage salary will reconsider working if they can get to and from the workplace for free. We already subsidise our transport heavily (to around 50%) so why not go the rest of the way.

Because it satisfies social impacts. Not only will it empower the economically inactive to incentivise employment but it will increase the social and leisure mobility of low income members of society allowing them to experience more of Northern Ireland and spend their money on goods and services they can enjoy rather than on a bus or train.

Because it satisfies tourism potential. Visitors will be able to leave Belfast much easier and visit more of the province and take longer journeys. We can build our transport network on quality and not solely on cost.

There’s more in the link and tag FreePublicTransport.

Talking about public transport on the Twitters….

Talking about public transport on the Twitters, of course I’m a fan of “free” for public transport.

roywhite_ni: @cimota @Kalista63 @RationalPanic @ppdoddy @Olive1309 @EdSimpsonNI @AdamMurray88 Lots of gr8 PT in Euro,all req subsidy+fee paying customers

And yes, Roy is right, there are plenty of great examples in Europe of how it’s meant to work. In fact they just prove that the system we have here, which is almost identical to theirs, can still produce a stinker. But there’s plenty of examples worldwide of free public transport. And anyway, being “the same as” somewhere else is not how I would describe a progressive society.

Think bigger. Think about tourism. Think about low incomes. Think about freedom. Think about emissions and fossil fuels. Think about roads congestion. And then think about how free public transport has been proven to increase the use of public transport by 1300%. Imagine what that could do for the rush hour.

roywhite_ni: @cimota @Kalista63 @RationalPanic @ppdoddy @Olive1309 @EdSimpsonNI @AdamMurray88 PT has 2b paid 4 & seeking paying customers hlp improv serv

It’s a fallacy that public transport cannot be free. We already subsidise public transport in Northern Ireland nearly 50% for a service that doesn’t make anyone happy. The only people content with it are those who don’t have the choice.

Adding charges doesn’t improve the service. It makes the whole machine focus on costs rather than quality. We should refocus our public transport to put quality first.

roywhite_ni: @RationalPanic @ppdoddy @cimota @Olive1309 Pricing is one way 2 infl behaviour. If we want more 2 use PT, it shld be cheaper than driving

And the problem is that public transport rivals the cost of driving for one person but the pricing is destroyed when, for instance, a family want to go out. Buses and trains cannot compete on privacy, on punctuality, on flexibility or on comfort. They have to compete on the one thing that can: pricing.

Making buses cheaper just maintains the idea that public transport is only for those who have the spare cash to travel. We need to be much more progressive. Mobility is the right of every citizen. I would rather a low income parent use what little money they have to take their kids to the beach and buy them ice-cream rather than paying for a bus fare. That’s what I’m talking about.

Do we have to wait for this to happen?

Paris air pollution so bad officials are temporarily making public transport free – link

While it’s only for three days and it’s only because of unseasonably warm weather (and it’s only March), this is a warning of what is to come. Other quotes in the article:

  • reduced the maximum speed allowed on main roads
  • the air is expected to remain exceptionally unhealthy
  • significant risks to the health of residents
  • air quality was “an emergency and a priority for the government”.
  • classified outdoor air pollution as “carcinogenic to humans”

Why do we have to wait until it’s about to kill us before we will act?