Since nobody's proposing a source of funds to replace the fares that the Muni does, sometimes, actually collect, this whole fare-free transit idea should pretty much be regarded as so much talk, which is no more likely to lead to a change in policy than the Supes' periodic resolutions censuring the president. Still, if they're going to talk about fare-free transit (and they do, about once a year) it's worth pointing out some of the reasons why this is a terrible idea.
- It's not going to boost ridership. It's not like people drive cars in the City because the Muni is too expensive, for crissakes!
- It will turn Muni vehicles into moving homeless shelters.
- Most seriously, it changes public transit from a service which riders pay to use into a welfare project.
- Which takes away riders' right to complain about the service.
- Not to mention dignity.
- And it dooms transit from ever being taken seriously by the general public.
- Dependency on farebox revenue, even if there are other sources of funds, forces transit agencies to think in healthy, business-like ways: about improving efficiency and attracting users.
As I've said before: I'm happy to pay the full cost of my CalTrain rides if I can be excused from paying taxes for freeways.