22 Jan Task 2: China January 21
The best way for the government to solve traffic congestion is to provide free public transport 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. To what extent do you agree?
It is true that traffic congestion is a major issue in cities today. Some have suggested that the optimal solution for this is for governments to introduce free public transport at all times. While I can see the benefit of this, I tend to disagree and will explain my view below.
Admittedly, taking this measure may well have positive effects, and perhaps the chief one is that it could persuade some people to stop using their private cars. By providing free buses, trains and trams at all hours, the authorities would make public transport more affordable and attractive, leading to not only some people abandoning their expensive vehicles but also potentially helping traffic to run more smoothly. In Tallinn, for example, the capital of Estonia, the local government instituted a fare-free bus policy several years ago, increasing ridership and reducing the number of cars on the road. This, arguably, is a good solution.
Nevertheless, I disagree that it is the best course of action for two main reasons. Firstly, and most obviously, this option would be expensive and is not guaranteed to have a sizeable effect on car use. Traffic jams typically occur at peak hours, and public transport is invariably crowded at this time. Reducing fares and running buses at quieter times is unlikely to change this. Secondly, other options would appear to be more effective. A good example is a congestion charge, which has been implemented in cities such as London, as it directly taxes drivers who enter urban areas. As such, it motivates people to take their vehicles off the road at relevant times, which is why I believe this measure is preferable.
Overall, it is my opinion that, although free, 24 hour public transport would help relieve traffic congestion to some extent, it is not the best solution for the reasons above.