Farber on free public transit

Head shot of Steven Farber

Professor Steven Farber

UTTRI associated faculty Professor Steven Farber was quoted in “Should public transit be free?” [paywall] in the Toronto Star, November 25, 2019.

The article by Ben Spurr discusses MPP Michael Coteau’s proposal for free public transit as a solution to congestion and air pollution from transportation emissions.

Professor Farber suggests alternative solutions:

“For fare-free transit to work in Toronto, the government would not only have to come up with funding to replace the $1.3 billion a year in lost fare revenue, but also hundreds of millions of dollars more to add service to the TTC’s often overcrowded system. Otherwise, the thousands of new riders fare-free transit is expected to attract would have nowhere to go.

The equivalent of the billions of dollars the scheme would require would be enough to pay for part of a subway extension, an entire LRT line, or multiple bus-priority lanes every single year.

Farber argued investing in that kind of network expansion would be far more effective at convincing residents to get out of their cars than eliminating fares.”

In conclusion, Farber said “If policy-makers truly want to shift drivers to transit… there are tried-and-true methods to do so: increase fuel taxes, introduce road tolls, and use the proceeds to improve the transit system.”

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