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If public transportation were free would more people be likely to use it?  According to several studies it has had mixed results.  When the question was initially presented, it seemed like a no brainer; of course more people would use free public transportation.  However, in many major cities the percentage of passengers using public transportation did not increase, but in smaller cities it seemed that more people were interested in using public transportation making it a success.

Many experts argue that by making public transportation free to all it would have many benefits for everyone.  The largest argument is it would reduce the use of individual motor vehicle use.  Having less cars on the road would reduce congestion therefore reducing the amount of time drivers would spend on their commute, especially during peak travel times.

By having less motor vehicle on the road it not only reduces congestions but would also have significate health benefits.  There would be less greenhouse gases emitted therefore reducing illness such as asthma.

Another major point to making public transportation free is that it would help to create a more efficient labor market by making transportation available to people that may not be able to travel to areas where jobs are available.  Not only will it open the job market to job seekers but it would also give employers a larger potential employee pool to draw from.  Hopefully, in the long run by providing people with the opportunity to seek employment it will reduce long-term poverty.

Many colleges and smaller cities have implemented free public transportation on a smaller scale by using electric vehicles.  These systems are usually subsidized by the government and/or the city itself and many times the drivers are paid on a gratuity only basis.  Possibly, larger cities may begin to implement some of these practices by looking at the systems that are already in place by smaller cities such as Sarasota, FL.

In Sarasota, the city has started a free ride system within their downtown area, with colorful eclectic golf cart style vehicles, referred to iRide.  The program is being paid for through advertisements on and in the vehicles as well as through subsidies through the city.  The iRide vehicles run every day from 11am to 11pm, taking riders to and from work, the doctors, lunch or pretty much anywhere else passengers would like to go.

Not only has Sarasota started iRide in the downtown area but also has started the Siesta Key Breeze which is a free trolley ride from Siesta Village to Turtle beach.  This is a six-month pilot program hoping to encourage tourist and residents alike to leave the car at home and take a ride on the trolley.

Maybe one day public transportation will be free to all.

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