Kansas City made history earlier this week by becoming the first major city in the United States to make its public transportation completely fare-free!
After the city council voted unanimously to endorse the “Zero Fare Transit” proposal to make all city bus routes fare-free, the city manager directed the council to implement the free transport plan.
WDAF reports that the proposals are expected to cost the city around $8 million, and will see the removal of the $1.50 ticket fee and the $50 monthly pass.
Local officials are hailing the move as a fantastic investment into the city, rather than a burden on the taxpayer or a waste in expenditure.
Eric Bunch, Kansas City councilman has stated that the proposal will offer a helping hand to low-income residents in the city who rely on public transit to commute to work.
According to KSHB, Bunch said:
“When we’re talking about improving people’s lives who are our most vulnerable citizens, I don’t think there’s any question that we need to find that money.
That’s not a ton of money and it’s money that we as a city, if we want to prioritize public transportation, it’s something that we can find.”
Mayor Quinton Lucas has also given his firm approval to the plan, and it is being warmly welcomed by city residents.
Say goodbye to bus fares in Kansas City!
Public transit is a public good. This win for fare-free transit in KC proves that when people organize and stand together, we can ensure our public dollars go towards the *most* public good. https://t.co/pIKOzy62Pw
— Jobs to Move America (@JobsMoveAmerica) December 6, 2019
Bus rider Loren Miles said:
“I think it would make the bus system stronger, not weaker, and would probably bring in more revenue, not less.”
But as always, there will be people who want to stand in the way of progress. Some residents are criticizing the move as “short-sighted” and “expensive to taxpayers.”
Local resident Teresa Bradshaw questioned the plan, noting:
“If you take it away, then where are our taxes going to go? How high are the taxes? It’s got to come from somewhere.”
Local newspaper The Kansas City Star has backed the new proposals and they argue that the money can found elsewhere with relative ease.
In an editorial last month, they argued:
“A good first step would be to stop giving away tax revenue to developers. Other efficiencies, including elimination of fare boxes on buses, could help. So could reclaiming sales tax dollars now subsidizing the streetcar.”
Supporters of the plan are also arguing that there are many other benefits such as strengthening the local economy and reducing the environmental impact of private transportation.
The moves comes after growing pressure from climate change activists and sustainable city advocates who are demanding an increase in investment in mass public transport to offset the human effect on the climate.
Fare-free public transit is not uncommon and is a popular idea for low income urban residents in recent years. Cities such as Denver and Salt Lake City are now open to the progressive idea in recent city elections.
On the other hand, cities across the U.S. such as New York City, Portland and Oregon, are spending taxpayers money on installing cameras and employing more transit police to try and stop those evading often-expensive transit fares.
What are your thoughts on fare-free transportation? Is it a progressive move or a waste of your tax dollars?