Title

Why (not) abolish fares? Exploring the global geography of fare-free public transport

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

2020

Subject Area

place - urban, policy - fares, policy - equity, policy - sustainable

Keywords

Fare-free public transport, Public transport, Urban transport, Transport policy, Transport geography, Fares

Abstract

Although the policy of abolishing fares in public transport—here referred to as “fare-free public transport” (FFPT)—exists in nearly 100 localities worldwide, it has not been thoroughly researched. To start filling this gap, I enhance the conceptual clarity about fare abolition. I start by providing a definition of FFPT, discussing its different forms, and introducing a distinction between “partial” FFPT and—the main focus of the paper—“full” FFPT. Next, I distinguish three perspectives on full FFPT—first, approaches that assess fare abolition primarily against its economic impact; second, analyses that look at its contribution to “sustainable” development; third, more critical arguments highlighting its politically transformative and socially just potential. Against the background of this debate I offer the most comprehensive inventory of full FFPT programmes to date, and begin to chart and examine their global geography. As a result, FFPT emerges as a policy that takes diverse forms and exists in diverse locations. Supported and contested by diverse rationales, it cannot be analysed as transport instrument alone.

Rights

Permission to publish the abstract has been given by SpringerLink, copyright remains with them.

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