The benefits of public transport over the dominance of private cars and motorcycles are undeniable. And if you add to the equation that this service can be free, perhaps many more citizens will be convinced to leave their private vehicles parked in the garage.
Among other improvements, public transport decongests traffic, especially in large cities; pollutes less both environmentally and acoustically; it is more economical for users and also significantly reduces travel times by avoiding searching for parking, for example.
But, what benefits can bring that its cost is zero? It’s true that, as a first opinion and with a short-term view, it seems like a perfect deal. Although, as always, all that glitters is not gold and apart from benefits, this measure can also have disadvantages.
Obviously, free public transport has all the advantages of urban means in general. But, as it entails a zero cost for the citizen. It can really be a real alternative to the use of combustion engine vehicles.
It also favors the economies of the classes at risk of exclusion, the unemployed, pensioners, and students. Although these groups usually already have discounts on public transport.
Although it seems crazy, it would also reduce the unpleasant or violent situations that drivers have to face. In France, it was estimated that 90% of the problems faced by public transport workers had to do with paying the ticket price. On the other hand, the efficiency and speed of the operation of public media would be improved by eliminating the need to chop tickets and purchase them.
But free public transportation also has its downsides. For example, the difficulty of its implementation arises due to the difference in the management of this service between the autonomous communities. Some have created public companies to offer transportation and others are service concessions to private companies, which have to obtain economic benefits from these tenders.
Also, who would take care of the cost and maintenance? It is estimated that in Madrid, for example, public transport costs around 2,000 million dollars a year, a budget that is provided by the Community, the central government, and passenger tickets.
And finally, it would not be really free, since being maintained by public administrations. The budget would come from citizens’ taxes, which could increase if the decision was made.