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Debate: Free public transportation

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Should all public transport be free and paid for by the state?

Background and Context of Debate:

Some governments have considered paying for public transport out of taxpayers' money, making it free. This would take cars, along with congestion, off our roads, and help the environment, so many people think it's a great idea and everyone would be able to see its advantage. However, like nearly all policies, it does have its cons. This debate article explores that.

In Belgium the government made public transport free, and it was a huge success. Lots of money was saved by all parties; the transport companies, the government and particularly the customers. They saved on everything, even printing tickets. It is still free.


Would free public transport help the environment?


Free pubilc transport would reduce the number of cars on the road. Global warming is a serious issue and if public transport was free, more people would use it, taking cars off the road. 1 train could take 2000 cars off the road. A public transportation system with 20 trains could take 40,000 cars off the road. Some people would simply choose to not own cars, further reducing the number of cars on the road. Across dozens of cities in a nation and thousands world-wide, the result of free public transportation would be dramatic in cutting vehicle emissions and combating global warming.


We would need more public transport. Buses, planes, trains etc. all harm the environment, just as cars do. If everyone used public transportation, more buses would pollute cities. It should also be mentioned that the manufacturing and creation of a public transportation system is very energy intensive, drawing largely on coal and fossil fuels for energy. This releases significant carbon emissions into the atmosphere.

Could the government pay for public transport services?


The Government's job is to provide services. This would be a great service that could be used by everyone. Taxes already pay for health care, schools and roads etc. so why not let taxpayers see the benefits for themselves, in a useful service everyone can use.

The environment would greatly benefit. As well as providing services, the govermnet should look out for the environment. No amount of money is too much to protect the environment.


With the financial crisis, we can't afford to spend more money on something like this. It would cost too much for the government to pay for running public transport services. With the economic crisis, it needs to spend the money on other more important things.

Would this create jobs?


We would need more public transport workers. With increased and better public transport, we would need more bus and train drivers, creating jobs. This is great with the global financial crisis. And it work make it easier for people to get to their job - they could just get on a bus.


Car sales would drop significantly. If it was free for everyone to get to work, families wouldn't need two or three cars; just one or even none, depending on their availability to public transport of course. Most families have several cars, and one is used just for someone to get to work each day. This wouldn't be necessary. It would hurt the car indudtry and car makers would most likely lose their jobs, and car companies may collapse, which is very bad news.

There are many people who would also lose their jobs. People like conductors, parking cops and plenty of other people wouldn't have their jobs any more, because their services would be no longer required.

Would this just put more strain on already poor public transport services?


Some public transport cities are already terrible; this would just increase the strain. Some public transport netowrks are already crowded and/or unreliable. With increased customers and pressure, these networks wouldn't manage.

If it was free, companies would not be expected to provide top service, because they are not paying customers. Generally when you pay a little bit more, you are paying for a good service. But if you aren't paying anything, and heaps of people are using the service, you can't expect top-notch customer service. Generally people look after paying customers more. If it was free, companies could lower their service under the excuse that its customers aren't paying anything so they should just "get what their given".


The government would be forced to improve public transport. With more users, bad public transport networks would be improved by the government, to make it worthwhile using. Bad networks would be greatly improved, and the benefits can be used by everyone. Its definitely a worthwhile incentive.

A lot of public transport companies are reliable and need more customers. Most public transport organisations offer friendly and reliable service and could do with some more "customers". They would be happy to take them and it would get cars off the road.

If public transport was free, would more people use it?


Heaps of people would be tempted by free transport. If free public transport was offered to everyone, of course they would use it. Yes, some people may stick to their cars, but the majority would think it was a great idea. If you had the choice of paying thousands each year to run a car, or to get on a train every morning for free, what would you choose?

A lot of people would already be using it if it didn't cost so much. For a lot of people, the only reason they don't catch public transport is because it costs too much. If it was free, they'd definitely start using it.


Many people dislike public transport and still would not use it. Many people will stick to their cars, and some would even stop using public transport, because with it being free, so many people will use it, it would become a mess and be way too crowded.

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