Riding the bus should be free. This was an utterly surprising topic I read about recently. The more I thought about it, the more sense it made. Of course, it will never happen, but I found it most enlightening to read the arguments the writer proposed.
Here is the gist of what they wrote:
We would need many, many more busses, and they would have to be very comfortable. That way more people would use them.
If they were free, and plentiful, than half the cars on the road right now would be unnecessary.
That would make traffic jams a thing of the past.
Second cars would not be necessary. What a saving!
Of course this would have to be financed somehow. Perhaps a tax of $2,400 a year for everyone — which is comparable to the $200 per month that most people pay for a second car.
It reminded me of the bicycle situation in Amsterdam. I first saw it in 1984. I saw a large pile of bicycles piled up in the town square. Should you need transportation anywhere, you simply picked up a bicycle, drove it to your destination and dropped it off where there was another pile of bikes. Wow! I was impressed! No registrations needed, no licences to buy and very little theft!
They had no pretense about biking. There was no complaining about the indignity of riding a bike, or, as I had heard here, from yuppies about riding a bus the one day when Winnipeggers were urged to ride a bus to work. It was all I could do not to speak up.
It certainly did away with much of the extra car traffic that day. But with all their over-bearing talk, I realized that very soon, I would be mumbling "against wind" as they were, certainly not thinking about why they were supposed to ride a bus to work that day.
But with "free busses," perhaps these artificial stigmas would become non-existent?
Bertha Klassen is a North Kildonan-based writer.
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