Zero-fare public transit is a government-, taxation-, or business-sponsored transit service that doesn't require users to pay fees when boarding. The system could have a few possible benefits:
- Reduced boarding times
- Less fare-related aggression or disputes
- Increased accessibility, especially for low-income residents
- Community integration
- Increased magnitude of regular transit's benefits
The system could also have some detriments, though. Not everyone would benefit equally from such an arrangement, but they may have to contribute equally if it's a tax-funded system. And fares are often used to shape traffic, encouraging people to spread out their use over peak and non-peak periods, such as is the case with Ottawa's express buses.
Would it work for Ottawa? Who knows. It may be worth thinking about, though, in the spirit of promoting the use of public transit in Ottawa. And especially with Free Public Transit Day coming up on March 7, 2009.