Häromdagen kom det uppmärksammade resultatet av folkomröstningen i Tallinn om fri kollektivtrafik: 75 procent av väljarna röstade för ett avgiftsbefriat allmänt trafiknät i den estniska huvudstaden. Därefter har åsikterna gått i många olika riktningar om vad för slags val detta egentligen har varit. Jag skrev till den estniske kulturgeografen Tauri Tuvikene , verksam vid University College of London för att få en reflektion:
”I suggest to be very careful in intepreting this. Even though it’s a nice idea, it has never been discussed before in Tallinn and there are no thought through plans of how to make it work. It has all been just a large scale of populism by a dubious political party famous for it’s charismatic leader. The free public transport referendum (well, it wasn’t exactly a
‘referendum’) plus everything around it has been quite strange. In Tallinn, this was not a topic since about three months ago, when the leading political party of Tallinn came up with the idea. No activists have advocated free transport. In principle, the idea is appealing but it’s practical application is rather more complex.
With public transit, there’s always the big question of quality, frequency vs price. In Tallinn’s case, the main problem is rather the quality – most of the trams and trolley buses are over 20 years old. Also, the frequency in many lines should be better. The price, however, is actually pretty low. One ticket (single or for an hour) for 1 EUR, a month for 18.50 to 27 EUR. or reduced for 8.5 EUR per month.
To put it further into perspective, public transport use in Tallinn is about on the same level as car usage (about 40%), i.e. quite popular (compared, e.g., with USA). In Tallinn, looking at the current condition of public transit, it doesn’t seem like the answer is that public transport should be free. It needs above all more investments.”
Jag fick också ett mail från Patrick Riemens, planerare i Holland som berättade om andra exempel på gratis kollektivtrafik i Europa:
”Free public transport is probably not a good idea in general, however, in Flanders (Belgium), it is being applied very selectively and with success. The town of Hasselt has fully free public transport within the city limits on the buses of ‘De Lijn’ (‘The Line’, the parastatal transport corporation). A number of (smaller) municipalities also have free public transport for their residents (you must ‘secure’ block of tickets beforehand, with proof of residence).
In France many cities and regions (not Paris!) ticket prices are capped at a very affordable level (max 2E) and are not distance bound. The richman’s paradise Cote d’Azur region (Nice and surroundings) tops it all: 1E gets you anywhere in the Alpes Maritimes department, 1 transfer included – for instance from Nice to the skyslopes of Isola2000 – 100km up in the mountain – and if you book your seat in advance, there is an obligation to transport you!).
And finally, the Netherlands have – unsurprisingly – the worse public transport system of all. There, the combination of greedy embrace of market solutions together with the calvinist despise of the individual sinner have contrived to a cumbersome and very expensive electronic ‘chipcard’ payment system that bills you by the hectometer (!!!) and constantly fucks up at your expense!”
Här finns också en länk till en inflytelserik oppositionell grupp i Toronto som arbetar för fri kollektivtrafik: No Fare is Fair! Och så vår egen Planka.nu förstås, som handlar om så mycket mer än att bara planka.