The best way to reduce traffic congestion is to provide free public transport service. To what extent do you agree or disagree? Give your opinion and examples from your own experience.
Cities continue to swell in size the world over, and this is causing traffic congestion on a scale never before seen in history. Some propose that the best way to alleviate this is to make public transport a free service. As this essay will show, such an approach would actually make traffic problems worse.
Firstly, despite making a city’s populace more mobile, certain public transit types would become overwhelmed or even inoperable if they were made available without charge. For example, in big cities like London and Tokyo, the fare to ride the bus is cheaper than the subway, and this helps to balance ridership levels between both. Removing the price incentive to take the bus would cause the subway, preferred for its speed and shelter from the weather, to explode to unmanageable commuter levels. Although this would reduce bus presence on the roads, it can hardly be argued a sustainable approach to the question of traffic congestion.
In addition to this, the underground walking networks between subway lines have become a haven for homeless people in many metropolitan areas around the world. I observed this first hand during a visit to Washington last year. If subway admittance were to be made free, the presence of these people would skyrocket, providing a base with which social problems like drug use and petty theft could take root and fester. Persuading people to give up the privacy and convenience of their cars for a potentially dangerous journey on the subway would be a difficult task.
The final and perhaps most convincing challenge to countering traffic problems through free public transit is the question of financing. Paying for an entire bus service in a large city like Shanghai is not cheap, and passing this cost on to city residents in the form of an additional tax is likely to be very unpopular. The longevity of the entire approach would thus be brought into question.
As the above shows, clearing traffic congestion by making public transit free is an unrealisable plan for many valid reasons.