Candidate for Dayton City Commission David Esrati is proposing fare free public transit in Montgomery County via the Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority. Esrati believes that free public transit will do more to lift people out of poverty than tax breaks for developers or other “job creation” efforts by government. It will also help to solve the problem with “food deserts” making a trip to a grocery store that’s further away accessible.
The reality is, the taxpayers are already paying for RTA through the sales tax, and from Federal dollars, and the amount of money RTA collects through fares is negligible. Once you eliminate the costs of collecting fares- from the administration of tickets and passes and transfers, to the accounting and control functions of the funds, and then figure in fuel costs and time wasted while waiting to collect the fares- the amount of real revenue is almost none. By returning ad sales to the outsides and insides of buses, RTA could more than make up for the lost revenue and the increases in ridership would be even more desirable to advertisers.
Free public transit also cuts down the needs for parking spaces in areas served by RTA including downtown and at major employers. RTA has already proven that a free bus works by having its “White Flyer” service along Brown Street into Downtown to service the people who can actually afford a bus fare. Expanding this program city wide would put Dayton on the forefront of cutting edge cities across the planet. The entire country of Luxembourg is switching to free public transit.
After the cost of housing, cost of reliable transportation is the second biggest household expense. Any reduction in car traffic also cuts down on carbon emissions, wear and tear on streets and provides for less requirements for huge parking lots.
RTA is currently funded in part by a half a cent sales tax on everything we buy in Montgomery County. By eliminating the fare, we can also eliminate marketing expenses and other overhead that comes along with trying to prove the value of the system.
Considering Dayton Public Schools was just held up for $5M a year to transport high school students by the system, which is even more of your tax dollars being funneled into RTA, wouldn’t just eliminating much of what the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission does from the equation- fill a huge funding gap. In the time that MVRPC has been in charge of “transportation planning,” the region has had to build more roads to accommodate sprawl, while the regions population has stagnated. With free transit, development will begin to return to the city core, once the home of a quarter of a million people inside the Dayton City limits, and stop spreading to places like Monroe and Brookville where farms are being replaced with warehouses only accessible by car.
Esrati realizes that the benefits of free public transit exceed the boundaries of just Dayton proper, but because he’s a strong proponent of reducing the waste of 30+ jurisdictions in Montgomery County alone, he plans to make this a cornerstone initiative once elected on Nov. 5, 2019.
If you would like to see free public transit become a reality in Dayton Ohio, please consider donating to his campaign, www.electesrati.com/donate