The Case for Free Public Transit in Toronto

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A Socialist Project e-bulletin ... No. 1961 ... December 26, 2019

The Case for Free Public Transit in Toronto

Saron Gebresellassi, Matt Fodor

Free public transit is a growing movement around the world. According to the book Free Public Transit: And Why We Don’t Pay To Ride Elevators, there are 200 cities around the world with some form of fare-free transit, and 97 that are completely fare-free.

Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, implemented free transit in 2013, and it was adopted nationwide last year. Luxembourg is another country where transit is free. The idea has also gained traction in the United States. Kansas City is set to become the first major city in North America with free public transit. On December 5, their city council voted unanimously to eliminate bus fares.

Fare-free transit makes sense. Basic mobility is essential for all people for work, household tasks and broader participation in society. Transit should be accessible to all as a public service. After all, we don’t charge user fees for libraries, parks, schools and healthcare. Moreover, the urgency of the climate crisis demands bold action.... Encouraging public transit use would ease congestion and make our streets safer.

In an increasingly expensive and unequal city, abolishing fares would also greatly improve the quality of life for poor and working-class Torontonians for whom the cost of public transit represents a serious economic hardship. The money currently being spent on fare enforcement could certainly be put to better use.

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