Fare Free Public Transport Conference, 17-18 September 2015, Avesta SWEDEN

The conference program will be focused on the three themes of Population growth; Sustainability; Equality / new opportunities, and will consist of a mixture of Swedish and international speakers. The conference will be held mainly in English.

Please find attached a “Save the date”-flyer and book this event in your calendar today! A formal invitation with the detailed conference program will follow shortly, together with more information about Avesta.

Protest action against tariff increase in Kyiv

On February 19th, 2015 anarchists from Black Rainbow along with other leftist activists held a protest action against the increase in public transport fares in Kyiv by occupying the head office of the municipal enterprise Kyivpastrans.

The activists demanded to cancel the extortionate tariffs and establish a completely free public transportation.

Despite the action was held during the reception hours, Serhii Maizel, Director General, was absent from his working place.

The officials falsely accused one of the activists of damaging the Kyivpastrans property by breaking the door of one of the offices.

A large number of policemen armed with submachine guns arrived to the premises and demanded personal information of the protesters.

The peaceful occupation of Kyivpastrans head office ended in several hours. Activists left the building, the police did not detain anyone.

The occupation will not be the last action against the increase in public transportation fares.

We will continue to fight for our rights — as transportation is a right, not a privilege!

Ovacik – First free public transport municipality in Turkey

After the 30th March 2014 local elections, the first the new Mayor did in Ovacik was to make the public transportation for free. It was one Turkish lira before but now it is free. Some passengers insist to pay. So they drop a lira in a box next to the driver. They claim if the municapility runs out of money nobody helps them.
Ovacık in Tunceli province Eastern Turkey is located on a 1500 square-kilometer area. The bus runs through the county every one hour.
The population is 3700.

Fare-free public transport: lessons from Sweden

This summary will primarily focus on places where there is or have been a general fare-free public transport, and not discussing all the places with partial FFPT for certain groups of residents. The latter is quite common, especially concerning young people. All school children that cannot walk to school are granted free bus passes. A few cities that have a small yearly fee are also mentioned. It should be noted that almost all of these examples are from rural areas where few people are using the public transport, so making it fare-free has been a way of increasing ridership, since the municipalities by law have to provide basic public transport.

A few interesting examples are how car users are given a year of free travels with public transport, if they promise to stop using the car. This has been done in for example Lund and in municipalities outside Gothenburg.

In Gothenburg all retired inhabitants ride for free, except during rush hours, which has resulted in many news articles of how happy and active the retired people have become.

Almost all public transport in Sweden now a days are operated by private companies on public contracts, earlier it was mostly by public companies. In 2012 a new law was passed that made it possible for private corporations to start new lines within an existing public transport network.

For the following cities I’m answering the questions below, I will use the numbers to refrain from repetition.
(1) possible effects and side-effects of free public transport (social, environmental, culture and life style, city planning etc.),
(2) costs, perception-costs, savings and the financing of free public transport (subsidies from overall taxes or a special tax/rate/contribution),
(3) target groups (all public transport users or registered residents),
(4) the problem of avoidably increased demand (pedestrians and cyclist becoming idle)
(5) the (long term) process character of the FPT projects
(6) the property resp. ownership relations concerning the infrastructure, transportation companies, service providers,
(7) agents involved in the decision making, evaluation, control processes on local (and regional) public transport.

5900 inhabitants. Since 1995 there is a fare-free public transport in Ockelbo that was created by opening up the public transports and the specialized transports for school children and elderly for everyone, and at the same time making it fare-free.

(1) The change in ridershop of people not going to school went from 9500 to 45 000 in the first year. Increase in new lines and adjustments of time tables made it possible to commute to work. Some households stopped using the car, and many others needed only one instead of two.
Many people could continue to live in the rural areas, and elderly and young people gained more freedom of movement. A lot of the basic services has been centralised from the villages to the cities, the increase in lines made it possible to make quick visits just as with a car.

(2) Overall taxes pay for the public transports. The driving force of the reform was drastic increases in costs for transports for elderly and disabled people. The increased efficiency of the existing public transports therefore didn’t increase the total costs at all.

(3) All users could ride for free.

(4) No problems with decrease in pedestrians and bicyclists was noted.

(6) Only local buses was fare-free, not the regional buses to other cities that passed through Ockelbo.

(7) Principal agents was an elderly lady complaining about how half-empty buses traveled the same routes but she was only allowed to use a few of them, which got a planner in Ockelbo to propose the idea.
The current lines and the time schedules are a result of many years of discussions with the local communities of different villages, to satisfy their needs and wishes.
An evaluation was made with 800 randomly selected inhabitants and 51% of the riders could have taken the car instead. 75% said that they would use the public transports less or not at all if fees were reintroduced.

Martin Gunnarsson”Avgiftsfri kollektivtrafik i praktiken – En studie av Kuxabussarna i Ockelbo kommun“, Kulturgeografiska institutionen Uppsala, 2012

Fredrik Quistbergh “Gratis kollektivtrafik – visst lönar det sig”,

Hallstahammar & Surahammar

15 300 inhabitants. Just like in Ockelbo, both the regular public transports and the specialized public transports are fare-free, and there is also an on-call flexible line that is fare-free.

(1)The main argument here is the efficiency ganined with coordinating rural public transports, school buses and specialized transports, the costs are high and the usage is low, so by increasing the ridership it results in a positive cost-benefit-analysis. The local lines are scheduled with the regional buses and trains to facilitate travelling without a car.
(2) Overall taxes pay for the public transports.

(3) All users could ride for free.

(4) No problems with decrease in pedestrians and bicyclists was noted since it’s a very rural area.

(6) Only local buses was fare-free, not the regional buses to other cities that passed through Hallstahammar & Surahammar.

(7) –

Hallstahammar municipality: “Bussar och tåg”

Ramböll “Utvärdering av avgiftsfri kollektivtrafik i Avesta” 2013

In the small village of Kölsillre with 100 inhabitants, in Ånge municipality, a fare-free flexible on call busline named “Kölsillre Byabuss” (Kölsillre Village bus) was created when the traditional busline was cancelled, due to costs and low usage.
The bus is self-organised by the inhabitants via the webpage www.byabussen.se. People can schedule when they want to use it, and other people can tag along on the same ride.
The bus is primarily used for transportation from the village down to the city of Ånge, but other trips are possible, it can only be used within the municipality of Ånge.

(1) The people of Kölsillre proclaims that they visit more cultural activities compared to earlier, go the theater and cinema, and eat at restaurants. Elderly people are very frequent users, and have a more social life and are being able to be more active.
“People have come closer to each other, and people that didn’t meet before, started to socialize.”
“After the school was closed we started to feel that we couldn’t stay here, but the village bus gave us easy access to all the things we lacked, so we could stay here.”
“It made it possible to commute to work without a car.”
(qutoes are from the documentary)
(2) The village bus in Kölsillre was part of a project called “Rural Transport Solutions” and funding was provided from the European Unions “European Regional Development Fund”, via the “Northern Periphery Programme 2007-2013”.

(3) Everybody can use it, including visitors. And its users ranges from families with children to elderly people.

(4) Due to long distances, walking and bicycling wasn’t an option before the project started.

(6) The regional transit authority is responsible for the project together with the municipality of Ånge, and the bus is rented from a private company. The bus is driven by the inhabitants of Kölsillre themselves.
(7)The regional transit authority initiated the project by asking the village residents if they were interested in this solution, since it would be cheaper in maintenance compared to a regular busline.
The plan was initially that after the project ended, a fee was to be collected from all travels, but a law concerning professional drivers made that impossible so the bus is still fare-free.
Short documentary: “Byabussen – med svensk text”

SVT news: “Gratis byabuss”

Northern Periphery Programme “Rural Transport Solutions 4.5”

SVT news: “Gratis kollektivtrafik i Kölsillre”

Webpage of Byabussen

23 700 inhabitants. In 1997 a fare-free public transport was initiated and after 4 years it was cancelled.

(1) In the city the traffic almost doubled, and in the rural area of the municipality the increase was 8%. The reintroduction of fares resulted in a decline in traffic with 40%, but it was still 15% more than before the introduction of FFPT. The increase in ridership was largest among people working.
Parts of the public transport in the city was very crowded, and fares were increased to finance new lines, but that still resulted in fewer passengers.

(2) Overall taxes paid for the public transports.

(3) All users could ride for free.

(4) Kristinehamn is often mentioned in media as an example of how walking and bicycling decreased due to FFPT, but no numbers were found for this summary.

(6) Public transports is administered by the regional public transit authority and the municipality of Kristinehamn. Parts of the public transports is on call flexible lines. Only local buses was fare-free, not the regional buses to other cities that passed through Kristinehamn.

(7) In a survey 24% of the inhabitants said that they would have used the car instead of the bus, if it wasn’t fare-free. The increase of risership in the city gave the overall project a positive result in the cost-benefit-analysis, although the small increase in the rural areas was alone a negative result.

Magnus Welroos “OM AVGIFTSFRI KOLLEKTIVTRAFIK”, Left Party – Region of Skåne, 2011

Ramböll “Utvärdering av avgiftsfri kollektivtrafik i Avesta” 2013

21 500 inhabitants. The politicians in Avesta decided that all citizens under the age of 19 should have free access to the public transport, previously it was only granted for young people that lived outside the city of Avesta and relied on buses for going to school.
The traffic planners in Avesta then made a cost-analysis of different scenarios which concluded that it was cheaper to shift to fare-free public transports for everyone rather than just for people under the age of 19. All city lines and rural lines within the municipality are free and there is also an on-call flexible line for areas not covered by regular lines. No regional lines passing through the municipality are free. .

(1) 106 800 rides with car has been made with bus instead which resulted in 40 tons less carbondioxide per year.
Overall there was an 80% increase of ridership the first year, and in the two cities Avesta and Krylbo the increase was 130%. Mainly workers and students have increased their use of public transports, but also asylum seekers for whom the costs of buses was very big have increased their ridership a lot. The day with largest increase was saturdays, where ridership went up 150%.
39% of the the increase in bus rides were made with a car ride before FFPT was introduced. New lines were introduced and more buses during the morning rush hour were added. Bus drivers say that their work is more fun nowadays but it can also be more stressful with more people getting on and off. The local union are working with the issue, and have proposed more personnel on the buses.

(2) Overall taxes pay for the public transports.
Costs before FFPT: 24 million SEK
Costs for FFPT for all students: 34 million SEK (+14 million SEK)
Costs for FFPT for all: 24 million SEK (+0 million SEK)

(3) All users could ride for free.

(4) 22% of the the increase in bus rides was a pedestrian or bicyclists before FFPT was introduced.

(6) Public transport are administered by the regional public transit authority and the municipality of Avesta. Parts of the public transports is on call flexible lines. Only local buses are fare-free, not the regional buses to other cities that passes through Avesta.

(7) The decision of a partial FFPT for all students were made by local politicians, and then local civil servants made the analysis that showed that money could be saved by introducing FFPT for all. An evaluation was made by a consulting firm named Ramböll after one year.

Ramböll “Utvärdering av avgiftsfri kollektivtrafik i Avesta” 2013

Kommunalarbetaren News “Här är det gratis att åka buss”, 2012

SR News “Bussvärdar ska hjälpa förarna i Avesta”

In Hedemora municipality, also in the region of Dalarna, just beside Avesta I was part of a study in a hypothetical introduction of FFPT and a comparison with Avesta.

A survey showed that one third of the people not using the public transport today would start using it if it was fare free. All students said they would use the public transport more, several women imagined a decrease in the need for giving children a ride and almost all men claimed that they had no need for public transport and always had to take the car.

(2) Overall taxes and fees pay for the public transports.
Costs before FFPT: 20 million SEK
Costs for FFPT for all students: 36 million SEK (+16 million SEK)
Costs for FFPT for all: 24 million SEK (+4 million SEK)

(7) The planners of the municipality that was interviewed as a part of the study spoke strongly against FFPT. At the time of the study the FFPT was just about to start in Avesta and the civil servants in Hedemora was sure that their focus on more buses would increase ridership more than in Avesta.

Marcus Finbom, Sara Öhman och Roberth Fri “Bussen, bilen och beteendet – En jämförande studie av kostnader och attityder mellan avgiftsfri kollektivtrafik och privatbilism i Hedemora kommun”, Instiution of human geography, Stockholm University, 2012

10 800 inhabitants. In the same region as Avesta and Hedemora. In the early 1990s the municipality of Säter tried FFPT a few years, but the regional transit authority Dalatrafik forced them to shut down since they couldn’t find a system for collecting statistical data of all rides. Local politicians declared that if Avesta made it work now they are interested to try again, since their experience with FFPT was very good, although no statistical evaluations was made of the results.

Dalarnas Tidning: “Säter har redan provat gratisbussar”, 2012-05-13

4800 inhabitants. In 2001 a fare-free public transport for the rural areas only was launched in Övertorneå. All school children already had free bus rides. During the same period a population decrease continued which should have decreased th enumber of rides with 2% if the share of bus rides would continue to be the same.

(1) Half a year after the start the ridership had increased from 1% of all adults to 5%. The number of rides increased with 90% overall from 30 000 rides to 58 000 rides, one line was a big exception and increased with 313%.
58% of the increase in rides was made with a car before the FFPT project.
The cost-benefit-analysis showed showed a positive result of just above 700 000 SEK.
(2) Overall taxes and fees pay for the public transports.

(3) All could ride for free. Now all residents can buy a yearly travel pass.

(4) No problems with decrease in pedestrians and bicyclists was noted since it’s a very rural area.

(6) All bus lines are administered by the regional transit authority. The local municipality paid for all earlier used seats on the bus lines to make them available fare-free for everyone. Total cost was 300 000 SEK for one year.

(7) A local party called “Övertorneå Alternativet” (Alternative for Övertorneå) motioned for FFPT in 1994 as a way to decrease car use in rural areas. It was turned down, but the idea lingered until it was tested in 2001.
An evaluation and analysis was made by Luleå University of Technology after 6 months on behalf of the municipality, who wanted to know if it was worth the cost to continue.
In 2008 it was changed so a small yearly fee for a travel pass had to be paid for, and since then it has steadily increased in price.

Övertorneå Municipality, Traffic information

SVT news “Project with free buses in Övertorneå continues” 2004

Haparandabladet news “Linda Ylivainio wants to stop free busrides in Övertorneå”, 2009

Staffan Johansson “Nolltaxa för busstrafiken i Övertorneå. Konsekvensanalys.”, 2002

5100 inhabitants. A similar system as in Övertorneå exists in Jokkmokk since 2007, although the price is much lower for the travel pass. The municipality is sparsely populated but as big as the three swedish regions Skåne, Halland and Blekinge put together.

(1) Increase access for all services and decreased car usage was the main goal according to left party pliticians that initiated it.

(2) Overall taxes and fees pay for the public transport. The budget for the project was 0,5 million SEK, but it ended up costing 1,6 million SEK, since it became more popular than expected. Number of trips doubled from 1500 to 3000 per year.

(3) All residents can buy a yearly travel pass.

(6) All bus lines are administered by the regional transit authority. The travel pass can be used on all 10 bus lines that pass through the municipality.

Jokkmokk Municipality, Travel pass information

Göteborg Fria Tidning ”Cheap buses made northerners to leave the car at home”, 2008

23 0000 inhabitants, although many mine workers live there but are registered in other municipalities.

(1) In may 2011 – before fares for residents were abolished – the number of bus rides was 12551. In May 2013 this number was 32118. The yearly trips have more than tripled from 120 000 in 2010 to 387 000 in 2013.
Even middle aged miners, that before had never used the public transport, have started to use the buses.

(2) Overall taxes and fees pay for the public transports. The yearly cost for the fare-free buses is 3,3-3,5 million SEK, but it was calculated to cost 5 million SEK before it started.

(3) All residents can buy a yearly travel pass for a small symbolic fee of 100 SEK.

(7) Members of the left party demanded it, after they won the election together with the social democrats and a local sami party Samilistu.

Kiruna municipality, Traffic information

Göteborgs-Posten, “Zerofare is still a hot topic”, 2014

Left Party “Free buses was a success”

Brazil: Free public transport-protests against the World Cup

The protests in Brazil are kicking in again, at the same time as the much-disputed football World Cup takes place. The cup claims billions, and activists want social infrastructure, reforms like free pulic transportation and an end to corruption.

On the 19th of June, Movimento Passe Livre (The Free Pass-movement) will arrange protests in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo  and Natal.

The authorities are trying to criminalize protesters, and global support may shift the focus to the protesters demands. In Stockholm, a solidarity demonstration will also be held on the 19th and marsch to the Brazilian Embassy.

Tarifa Zero jà!


A visit to “Summer School – The Capital of Free Public Transport” in Tallinn


Tallinn, the winner of the Free Public Transport Award 2012, implemented a zero-fare policy at the beginning of this year. At the same time, the city has profiled itself as a strong advocate for free public transport. Through conferences, studies and networking they have positioned themselfs as the main city of the free public transport-movement. This week their zero fare-themed “Summer School” took place at the University of Tallinn. Among the guests where lecturers from the free public transport-cities Hasselt in Belgium, Chengdu in China, Aubagne in France as well as ?ory and ?abki in Poland. The EU commissioner of transport, the Mayor of Tallinn and researchers from Tallinn University as well as the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm were also present.

Tallinn where represented by mayor Edgar Savisaar who told the audience that since they removed the fares in the public transport they have seen a 14 percent decrease in car traffic as well as a 15 percent increase in public transport users. One of the reasons that Tallinn implemented a fare-free system was that they already subsidised the public transport by 70 percent and felt that it was hard to motivate why such a hefty amount of public funding should be spent on an operation that was to expensive for some to use. Instead they reasoned that if the public transport is something that is worthy of such a large public funding, should not everybody also have the right to use it?

Before Tallinn removed the fares, the share of public transport commuters had slowly but steadily shrunken. And even though they had spent a lot of money on new buses and trams that trend did not change, but this year 21 percent more of the Tallinners have used the public transport, out of which eight percent had never used it before. 68 percent of the citizens use public transport as their main way of getting around, a number that has grown by 13 percent while the share of people who mainly drive cars to get around have shrinked with nine percent.

One thing that strikes you on the streets of Tallinn is that the buses are travelling at a significant speed while the cars are stuck in traffic. This is due to the reserved bus lanes that were implemented just before the fare was abolished. One criticism we have directed toward Tallinn is that they haven’t made public transport free for all, just for citizens of the city. It was motivated by an effort to get prople to register as citizens of Tallinn, thus getting more municipal tax revenue. This has been succesful, Tallinn has gained 11.000 inhabitants and 11 million euro in revenue. The idea to attract people to register as citizens was reoccuring among the lecturers, and stresses the importance of keeping together and integrating the public transport system not only in cities, bur in entire regions. To mutually finance public transport in the region simplifies making it free for all.

Mayor Savisaar also mentioned the critique that people will stop walking or using bicycles after the zero-fare policy is implemented. He said that this had happened to some extent in Tallinn, but the fact that so many people have stopped using cars have a much larger on public health, and car drivers are the ones with immobility.

Chengdu is a central city in the Sichuan-province of China. The city has 5 million inhabitants and is the transport hub of a region consisting of 15 million people. Since 2012 a number of fare-free bus lines have opened, to this date the number is 44 lines. They have also implemented free public transportation between 5-7 AM and many local buses has also abolished fares. This lecture was a little bit hard to understand, very technical, with diagrams and maybe it required knowledge of the city itself. But Shi Tao, vice chairman of the Chengdu Bus Group, concluded that the zero-fare experiment was successful and would be implemented on yet more buslines. Also he confirmed that everything they did “benefited the people very much”, the dictator-lol-factor was quite high during this lecture.

Hasselt is a city in Belgium that has been one of the most interesting zero-fare cities. During the nineties they were to bulid a third bypass highway, but the costs were running wild and proposed explotation of precious nature forced the plans to a halt. Instead they abolished fares and reduced the space for cars on the second bypass. It resulted in a 1300% increase in public transport ridership!

Marc Verachtert, civil servant of Hasselt’s public transportation, also mentioned the critique towards zero-fare policys. He agreed that some bicyclists (10%) started using buses and trams instead, but the total amount of bicyclist did increase when fewer cars occupied the streets. Hasselt also decreased the parking lots in the city, from 1500 to 500, and the city has an interesting system called last-mile delivery to decrease the heavy transports. Around the city they have depots where lorrys deliver goods, which is then packed on transport bicycles, for example.

The bad news is that Hasselt, despite the success story, will take a step backwards next year and experiment with fares again. The Social Democrats and The Green were elected 2012 on a program to keep the zero-fare policy, but still it will be brought down. Much of the conflict seems to relate to the relationship with the region, which finances 75% of the program. Verachtert argued that a major obstacle in negotiating with the region was that they lacked adequate statistics on the impact of zero-fare. Many inhabitants of Hasselt are pleased and see the advantages, and ridership was up 1300%, but this was not enough for the region.

Verachhert requested more research on the subject, and said that Hasselt will remain in the network of zero-fare cities, initiated by Tallinn. They will gather information, and hope to bring free public transportation back to their city soon.

Żory is a small town in southern Poland, but a town wih big ambitions: they want to become the leading free public transport-city in the country. Starting next year they will implement zero-fare as one of several measures to stop the population decrease. They have not decided on wheather to make it free for everyone or just for people registered in the town. When they asked the participants, the representative from Aubagne said that everyone should benefit, because no one likes to be controlled.

Ząbki is a town near Warszawa with 50.000 inhabitants, although only 29.000 persons are registered. Many commute to Warszawa for work or studies, and the zero-fare policy was a measure to get more people to register as inhabitans, because public transportation is only free for the ones that have registred.

The conference showed that there are two different camps in the zero-fare question: those that made public transportation free for all, and those who made it free for registered inhabitants. This is a question of how it is financed, Aubagne and Hasselt hade regional backing and could make it free for all. The other cities finance public transportation by themselves. This shows the value of integrated public transportation systems.

Free public transport-struggle in Poland


Year by year our local public transport introduces price increases of tickets. It costs now too much. Many people can’t use public transport legal, because they haven’t money. Many people started using cars, because it is cheaper. It’s create bigger traffic jams, more car exhaust, and bigger costs of road maintenance. So Wolny Związek Zawodowy “Sierpień 80” (Free Trade Union “August 80” – radical left trade union) started campaign to promote a free public transport idea. We refer to Tallin and Hasselt example. We want to enter the free public transport, because it’s cheaper for autonomy budget, for people, and brings many benefits – it’s more ecological, and prosocial. That why we are taking to do public transport free by social protests and substantive arguments. And we have hope to win!

The name Sierpień 80 (August 80) links to big social protest in August 1980 in Poland. Polska Partia Pracy – “Sierpień 80” (Polish Labour Party – “August 80”) was created by the trade union).