More cities in Canada are now calling for public transit to be totally free
Cities across Canada are now petitioning for free public transit, and the movement is gathering momentum.
Free public transit — funded through taxation by the local or national government — does exist. Luxembourg is the first country in the world to make public transit free, and several European cities have similar systems in place.
Now, Canadian cities are moving to do the same.
Publicly funded, free transit is not a radical idea. We already publicly fund transit, we just under-fund it, and fares make up the difference.#Freetransit just means properly funding #publictransit with public money, and we get it by eliminating oil/gas subsides. #cdnpoli pic.twitter.com/TMjmjMpiHi— Matthew Green 🍊 (@MatthewGreenNDP) December 8, 2019
In Edmonton, a group called Free Transit Edmonton are campaigning for free transit across the city.
The group has created a "Transit Week Challenge," where they're inviting city councillors to take public transit all next week. To work, to errands, to events — the councillors are encouraged to only travel via transit for seven days.
People in Edmonton have also been reaching out to their local representatives to get involved.
In Victoria and Vancouver, many have pointed out that public buses are often more convenient (and eco-friendly) than driving.
This is how many cars we zipped past in our bus lane in one minute of my commute home last night.— Torrance Coste (@TorranceCoste) June 4, 2019
Public transit can be more convenient than driving, and government investment can make it so.
Now we need to make it free.#ClimateEmergency #GreenNewDeal #GreenNewDealCanada #yyj pic.twitter.com/9cdaMWGHdf
Some argue that by making public transit free, low-income groups would be able to afford it.
For a family of four to take a trip to the beach, it could cost upwards of $20 in transit fares each way. No child should have to miss out on summer recreation because transit is too expensive. Let's make it free for everyone, and reduce our carbon emissions while we're at it. https://t.co/JntZgb8lD4— 🌿Yvonne Hanson🌿🍊 (@YVR_Hanson) July 26, 2019
In Toronto, transit workers have been advocating for free transit since at least last July.
People in Toronto are even suggesting emulating the New York free transit protest that shut-down Grand Central station last month.
In Ottawa, a group of citizens have also started a petition to make public transit free and accessible.
An Ottawa city councillor revealed that the city was even considering a motion for free transit in October, but the Mayor and several councillors passed on it.
Today, several City Councillors and the Mayor opposed hearing a motion for free transit on Federal Election Day. Zero debate, zero discussion. Those who voted ‘no’ pictured on this sheet didn’t want to debate. What were they so afraid of? #ottlrt #lrtOttawa #OttNews #Ottawa pic.twitter.com/QatuCNSoaD— Shawn Menard (@ShawnMenard1) October 9, 2019
Several years ago, the idea of free public transit in Canada might have been unfathomable for many people.
But now, the idea is certainly gaining loyal followers.
When I ran for Mayor, reporters looked like the floor dropped when I called for free transit. Since then it’s been introduced in Parliament, in Victoria, Edmonton and Now, TTC Workers call for free public transit. @blogTO https://t.co/06KQLynEkZ— Saron Gebresellassi (@SaronGeb) July 30, 2019
Free public transit in Canada would make travel more accessible to low-income groups and reduce carbon emissions — with the obvious drawback of coming out of taxpayers' pockets.
The NDP advocated for free public transit as part of their Green New Deal in 2019.
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