Garbage should be paid and Public Transport should be free

pol note

published 2023-12-19 18:29

updated 2023-12-19 22:32

I'm a big advocate for public transport. Until literally yesterday, I did not have a driver's license (hooray me, passing the driver's test in a western country!). I love cities that have a great, accessible, far reaching public transport system: Melbourne, Vancouver, New York. It's probably the single most important factor to me when "evaluating" cities.

My "radical" take is that public transport ought to be free. Political discourse is full of takes about how expensive it is to run a public transport network. I never hear the same complaint about roads, despite roads incredibly expensive to operate and maintain, and a significant reason for why suburbs are entirely unsustainable.

We shouldn't worry about the costs of public transport, because it's more important for people to get to places than transportation be an economically profitable endeavour. Who's going to pay for it, you ask? Well who pays for the roads, dear reader? You are! I am! That's what taxes are for, baby! ✨ Despite arguing against the need for economic benefits, I would not be surprised to see that it does indeed grow the economy to have public transport be free. Funny what happens when we stop playing zero sum games.

We should stop charging for public transport if for no other reason than the public will stop seeing it as a service that needs to be profitable in order to be valuable. Again, there's plenty of services that aren't profitable (cough roads cough) that don't turn into ridiculous political battles when entering The Discourse™️ . "We" provide these services anyway, because we live in a society and that is the whole damn point of civilization.

Making public transport free, de-incentivizes road / car usage where meaningful while increasing people's mobility. It reduces traffic for those who do really need to use a car (and there are many legitimate use cases!), brings down the total number of accidents, both of which mean reduced expenses on road maintenance and human maintenance. It really is such a obviously good idea in theory that I'm sad it isn't a more prevalent reality. Of course, reality is complicated and turning public transport services free overnight would not achieve the goals I'm laying out here, but ultimately I think it is a valuable long term goal to get towards.

The other radical take I have today, is that we should pay for garbage services. The world recycling rate sits at an abysmal 4%. That's 4% of goods that make it to recycling services actually end up recycled. That's pathetic. Recycling is a sham, and it's the best method we have for dealing with waste. Landfill is permanently destroying our world, the costs literally could not be translated into a monetary value. I believe having set the cost of garbage to zero is a grave mistake. We ought to incentivize people to waste less. To compost where they can. A simple way to do this would be to charge by weight for garbage. It's too expensive for things to go to waste for garbage to be free. The incentives are too powerful. Find new uses for things, buy only things that come in compost friendly packaging, heck don't buy the thing at all! It gives consumers a reason to care about the environment, and by goly, we really need consumers to care for the environment if there is to be an environment at all in 40 years.