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Transportation Earth The Almighty Buck

Estonia To Become the World's First Free Public Transport Nation (citylab.com) 143

On July 1st, the country of Estonia will create the largest 24/7 free public transit zone in the world, making it feasibly possible to travel by bus from one end of the 1.3 million-strong Baltic nation to the other without paying a cent. CityLab reports: Estonia is already a world leader in free public transit: In 2013, all public transit in its capital, Tallinn, became free to local residents (but not tourists or other visitors, even those from other parts of the country). The new national free-ride scheme with extend this model even further, making all state-run bus travel in rural municipalities free and extending cost-free transit out from the capital into other regions. The plan will not, however, extend Tallinn's existing free public transit policies to other Estonian cities, and it also won't make riding Tallinn transit free to visitors (at least, not initially). So while most of the country's land area and population -- which is overwhelmingly concentrated around Tallinn -- should get fare-free daily lives, it's not precisely the case that no Estonian will ever buy a bus ticket in their own country again. Further reading: Pop-Up City
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Estonia To Become the World's First Free Public Transport Nation

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  • by rbrander ( 73222 ) on Sunday May 20, 2018 @02:05PM (#56643312) Homepage

    For some reason, this made me think that it would be like the whole nation was conveyor belts, just step on and go anywhere. Obviously, this is is true of any nation with roads, but the "free" thing makes a psychological difference: you spend money to go places you have a need to go, but if it's free, you might wander anywhere aimlessly, like a man out for a walk.

    The conveyor belt image sent me over to my Heinlein collection to carefully re-read the start of "The Roads Must Roll", confirming what I'd suspected: Heinlein never mentions payment. The entrance to the Road lacks all toll-booths or other mentions of payment. Indeed, how could there be when he describes that you can get on anywhere, just step on the outer 5MPH strip going by, and work your way inward to faster strips if you aren't travelling locally. There are, however, many paragraphs expended clarifying that the whole economy is dependent on them, and they re-designed all their cities around them.

    I think Mr. TANSTAAFL actually proposed that moving mechanical roads would be like the asphalt roads they replaced: just free for all to use. The same concept of "public road" that every government ever had to maintain (at great public expense, your city streets department is likely more expensive than either water or sewer) just had the cost of maintaining mechanism tacked on. They already had to up the roads budget 500% to install and maintain asphalt instead of dirt decades ago, this is just the same increase again as society became another 500% richer from the "Douglas-Martin Sunpower screens" and so forth.

    Pigeonholing Heinlein as a libertarian, or militarist, or whatever, was never wise; the guy had his opinions, but his imagination that roamed over all sorts of ideas always ruled over that when he had an idea he couldn't resist.

    • If I remember, that inner strip held all sorts of services like restaurants/etc. Lease that strip out to private enterprise, who then sell services to the travelers. Use money for upkeep. Not sure if that would work, but heck this is sci-fi anyway...
  • by aleksander suur ( 4765615 ) on Sunday May 20, 2018 @02:06PM (#56643318)
    Homeless shelters on wheels, decreasing quality, running out of money... all things that were expected when this was implemented in Tallinn. None of that actually happened, it worked out great. Buses are on time, go pretty much everywhere and are as clean as ever, it totally works. Mind you, this scheme was cooked up by a political party I otherwise despise, I guess even a blind man hits a bulls-eye every now and then. Of course, its not free as air, its just payed out of your taxes, but as far as use of your taxes go - it's a pretty good one.

    You need to keep in mind that setting aside who pays for it, public transportation is just cheaper than a car in every way. You need less infrastructure and roads are expensive, a bus just takes less room than equivalent amount of cars, on roads and on parking lots. A bus itself is cheaper than equivalent number of cars, as Estonia has to import both, public transport is good for import/export balance. Buses use less fuel per passenger than cars, again something you don't need to import as much. And the improved air quality is worth something too.

    From state perspective, more public transport is a very good thing and if done right its pretty convenient for a citizen too. You can look at it as extra tax on car owners, not a very big tax at that.
  • Free public bus transport was the initial idea. Now nobody is sure because there is so much hurry and miscommunication involved. There was and idea that counties can choose: to open new bus routes, lower the ticket price or to set the ticket price to zero. Many counties would prefer to use the money to open new routes so that is will help more people.But now the central government declared that the counties that will not give free rides to everyone cannot give free rides to anyone. There is a long-standing

  • Are they just guessing based on people's appearance? Is it on the honour system? How do they know who is a local and who is a visitor? Or do they make even locals use some kind of card to identify themselves?

  • Their ENTIRE NATION is just a little smaller than the state of OHIO. They geographically have LITTLE area. Try doing that in the ENTIRE United States! More fake news, so to speak.
    • Their ENTIRE NATION is just a little smaller than the state of OHIO. They geographically have LITTLE area. Try doing that in the ENTIRE United States! More fake news, so to speak.

      US population is 250x and land mass is 220x of Estonia so density is quite similar. Then of course the US has much more mountains, desert and Alaskan wilderness, and you don't need to build public transport *everywhere* only the main towns and cities.
      #Fake brain, so to speak....

  • It's interesting how different cities take different approaches to free public transit. In Tallinn, public transit is free for locals but not for visitors, whereas in the Swiss city of Basel, it's free for visitors but not for locals. (The city government supplies transit passes to hotels, which then distribute them to their registered guests. Conveniently, visitors can still avail themselves of free travel while travelling to the hotel to check in: all they need to do is show the ticket inspector their
  • Helps the poor get to jobs and helps the environment
  • Take a look at Estonia; 17,000-and-change square miles, 1.3 million people -- IN THE ENTIRE COUNTRY. California has enough budget surplus that they could buy Estonia, I'm pretty sure, and there are cities in the U.S. that have more people in it than Estonia has in it total. 'Free public transit for everyone' would not scale up.
  • Libertarians such as myself believe in limited government. They are therefore assumed to be in total opposition to transit. But that's not always the case. While in a perfect world, markets would evolve to address transportation and most if not all other human needs, the world in which we actually do live is one in which cars, roads, oil, and other car-related infrastructure has been heavily subsidized in many places, for decades. Particularly in the U.S. where I live. This has created unsustainable an

  • The original article is somewhat misleading and so is the summary, and by extension, also the discussion.

    Yes, the Central Party wanted to push free overall *local* public transport, the kind that does not cross county borders. That did not come to pass. Instead, they instated a programme that encourages local transport operators to set up such free lines, only that it is not mandatory. Those operators that decide to enrol in the programme will get subsidies, those that don't, well, won't. But there will be

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