If You Improve It, They Will Come


My latest piece is now online at City Journal. It’s a recap of the Indianapolis BRT and Columbus free downtown transit success, as well as a look at Kansas City’s contemplation of free transit citywide. Thanks to a commenter here who originally alerted me to KC’s plans. Here’s an excerpt:

Kansas City is considering the complete elimination of transit fares. In major cities, fares commonly pay for a substantial amount of the overall cost of service operations, and trains and buses are often overcrowded. In Kansas City, though, fares cover only a fraction of costs—about 12 percent—and transit remains underutilized. If it goes forward with the plan, Kansas City would become the first major city to go entirely fare-less—building on the success already enjoyed by the city’s free streetcars. Urbanists have turned against streetcars because they’re slow and expensive, and often plagued by operational problems and lagging ridership. In Kansas City, though, streetcar ridership has exceeded expectations; once forecasted to run 2,700 daily rides, the streetcars now carry over 5,700, adding up to 2 million annually. Again, free ridership likely played a huge role in that success.

Click through to read the whole thing.

Photo Credit: Jason Doss, CC 2.0 License