There’s a great piece out today on the Atlantic Cities blog, about what happens when a city makes its transit system free. The focus is on a couple of smaller cities in France, especially Chateauroux. I’ve written about this before, here.
One interesting note from the piece: It mentions that Chateauroux was able to do this because their farebox recovery is in the 15-20% range, while other larger cities typically are 35-40%. That may be true in France and other European cities, but most large American cities still recover at best 25% of farebox on their bus systems. Now, part of that is the sprawling nature of our cities compared to Europe. Even still, it reinforces my point that we need to embrace some new models, and reinvent the basic bus system.