(Cover Image & Source: Rainbow Metro Station in Stockholm @ the Culture Map)

…It was the end of the 19th century when the first offical public transportation systems were used in the bigger cities. The world’s first experimental electric tramway was built by Russian inventor Fyodor Pirotsky near Sankt Petersburg in 1880., even do the first commercially-successful electric tram line operated in Lichterfelde near Berlin, Germany, in 1881., and it was built by Werner von Siemens. Half of the century before that, a horsecar, predecessor of electric trams, were introduced in central Europe, in 1828., with the first line going from the city of České Budějovice in todays Czech Republic to Linz in todays Austria. Four years later the same horsecar or streetcar as they called it came to USA, on the New York and Harlem railroad in New York City.

Much before that, we had first commercially usable bus, or better said horse-drawn carriage with a capacity of 7-8 passengers and each were scheduled to run through the Parisian streets throughout the day, invented by famous French mathematician Blaise Pascal in 1662.

Horsebus – The Bus That Pooped; Paris, France, 1662.

And trains that were transporting goods and people between towns on the bigger distance, invented at the end of 18th century (steam engines of James Watt and co.), but in real use at the beginning of the 19th century.

Today, more then a century after the inventions of this wonders of steel factories used in first public transportation systems, we have a variety of all the possible means of transport, either in the cities, between the cities, or between the cities and their distant suburbs and villages. Trains (metro, suburban, intercity, etc.), buses, trams, ships, and even an airplanes are used daily all around the world that serve people and companies in transport that is counted in millions, even billions every and each day.

With an advanced technology, especially in the last few decades, we get better and faster transport, but that comes with a price. Mostly with a big price that every passenger or company have to pay that they or their goods travel safely and on time from Point A to Point B.

Problem today with most of these transport systems is that they carry to much passengers and goods, and with all the other problems, like bad weather and system failures, it makes them quite inefficient. Unfortunatelly, that all comes with a big price that we all, especially the passengers, or the customers in general have to pay.

Also, we have to take into consideration the fact that more and more people are living quite bellow their opportunities, like for example, if they are unemployed, poor, homeless or working for low salaries.

How can you expect them to pay the transport ticket if their income is small or not existing at all, and they still need to use that transport, no matter if they live in bigger or smaller cities, or even villages?

For example, here in Stockholm where I live now, if you want to use a public transportation systems (trains, trams, buses and some ships) in the whole Stockholm city area (Stockholms län) you will have to pay almost 900 Swedish Crowns (SEK) (ca 90 EUR or 92 USD) for the monthly ticket. If you are a worker, and you have a descent salary, that will not going to be such a big problem (most salaries here in Stockholm area range between 15k to 30k SEK netto, or after tax).

But if you are unemployed or living on the streets (and I´m talking from my own personal experience), then you are in a big trouble. You need transport, because this city is big, but you don´t have the money to pay for it. So what many people do here is they walk through the gates of metro railway systems (through which you can pass only with a valid ticket), with the help of others who have the so called SL Travel Card, but even do they can enter the metro area, they still can be fined by control officers in the trains for “schwarzfahren”, how they call this type of misusing public transport, i.e. using it without the valid card in Germany, where I was living in the last two years. This “free riding” has become so popular in Stockholm, that they even invented special anarchist project called Freeriding Fund, “a fund where members, i.e. travelers pay a monthly fee, and if the travelers get caught without valid tickets by control officers, money from that Fund is used to pay the fines. The fund has a few hundred members, and costs 100 SEK per month.”. They call this Planka fund or just P-fund (you can read more on Planka.nu), and in general it tries to help people with lower incomes to use public transportation in Stockholm.

Schwarzfahren, using public trains in Munich, Germany, without the valid ticket, fine cost 60 euros

But, that is only the “top of the iceberg” problem, and in reality it doesn´t solve almost anything. What we need in all of the bigger cities of the world is cheaper transport tickets, which should be paid with as much as money as an individual is able to pay, using special city cards (that could be used for paying different kind of city´s public services like toiletes, water, transport, etc.; I was writing about it in the How Should the Modern Urban Areas Look Like – Public Toilet Systems Problems). So, if you are for example a tourist that stays in the city for only one day, you pay the one-day ticket from the nearest tobacco shop, or if you are staying longer, than you can pay for more days, like as we already have options of 3-day or 7-day tickets.

Majority of others which are citizens, will buy special city card, which they can “charge” in any shop, with special case for buying for example, a month travel ticket for as much as they want. So, if they want to spent 10 euros (if they are lower salary class workers, unemployed, students, pensioners, homeless), or 100 euros if they are richer, that will be a option that they can choose. And the more money they spent using this City Card, the more bonuses and other awards they get from the city´s institutions or supermarkets and other sponsors of this special city project. As with public indoor/outdoor toiletes and other city projects, this could be combined with sponsorhip of some companies in the town. So, it´s a win-win-win situation.

Customers, in this example passengers, get cheaper transportation, or in general all the other city services, sponsors like supermarkets and other companies get cheaper advertising in the city area places like public toiletes, transportation vehicles etc. and cities get the money from the citizens and companies which they use to run the local business of importance to the whole city.

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Ianus Christius