Delhi Metro free rides for women: The recent proposal by the Delhi government to soon make public transport mediums of Delhi Metro, DTC buses and cluster buses free for women, has drawn widespread polarised reactions. Under the proposal announced by the Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, women will have an option to not pay for the rides. Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs has criticised the Delhi government’s proposal and mocked the decision. Interestingly, the idea of free public transport has experimented across many cities around the world. According to an IE report, cities in the United States and Europe have experimented with this, since the 1950s.
European countries like Belgium, France, Germany and Estonia have taken initiatives in order to make public transport free, either for the entire population or for a few sections such as students or senior citizens. The European country Luxembourg recently announced that it would become the first country in the world to make public transport free for everybody by the year 2020. The most common reason for any city encouraging the use of public transport has been to tackle traffic congestion on the roads. Let’s take a look at a few of the countries which made public transport free and what the impact was:
The European country Norway, in its city of Stavanger had experimented with free public transport between the months of August and December 2011. However, an evaluation found no evidence of a decreased number of cars. Instead, the increase in ridership of public transport was attributed to more walkers as well as more “fun riders”, getting on public transport.
In the years 2008 and 2013, the city of Gothenburg in the European country Sweden, had offered access to free public transport to tens of thousands of motorists for a limited period. At a later stage, around 25% of motorists were recorded as having shifted to public transport as their primary mode of commuting. The long-term effects of the same were not measured.
In the year 2009, as many as 373 car owners in Copenhagen, the capital city of Denmark, were provided with a free month travel card. The share of such participants who resorted public transport doubled from 5% to 10%, however, six months later, it fell down to 7%.
In the southwestern region of the United States, lies the state of North Carolina, where the city of Asheville is situated. In the year 2006, the overall ridership of the city rose to 59% when public transport was made free. After the experiment ended, an increase of 9% was retained.
The city of Hasselt in Belgium made public transport free for residents and visitors in the year 1996. A decade after this move, it was reported that the ridership had increased tenfold, with more than half the new users choosing public transport instead of cycling or walking. However, the city later concluded that the scheme was not viable and withdrew it from January 1 in the year 2014, leaving only a few particular concessions. The scheme had no long-term impact on the ownership of cars.