***** Postponement of Inaugural Free Public Transport Conference – Invitations to submit article to an edited collection *****

Apologies and Update

It is with regret that I announce a postponement of the Inaugural Campaign for Free Public Transport conference, due to take place in Birmingham on Saturday the 16th of October. While the Campaign has seen some great steps taken in the last six months, as I detail below, the support we have gained has not yet been converted into firm commitments for funding and the core activists from Greater Manchester do not have the resources to cover the expense of hiring a conference venue and the promotional material required. Nevertheless, two large unions representing hundred of thousands of individuals (Unite and the PCS) have passed motions at their national policy conferences supporting the principles behind free public transport and the importance of supporting those free public transport schemes (over60s and U18s – in London – concessionary passes) already in existence.

We believe the Campaign remains an important opportunity to increase public awareness about the way transport impacts upon everyday life and as similar policy motions move through other trade union bodies, and as positive discussions with the Green Party continue and progressive transport activists more generally coalesce around broad aims of resisting further cuts to public transport, continued promotion of urban sprawl (leading to differential impacts borne most heavily by those most excluded in our society), that the enthusiasm the Campaign has generated will be converted into funding to expand our activities and to reschedule the inaugural conference to 2011.

Publication: ‘Evidence and Debates around Free Public Transport’

That said, I can only extend my sincerest apologies to those of you who had agreed to give papers or had made arrangements for travel. As a way of maintaining debate around the more progressive possibilities for UK transport and urban planning (with consideration to social justice and the environment) and so that the excellent research that many of you had agreed to discuss can be presented to a much wider audience, I would like to invite everyone to contribute an article to some form of publication. As to the format, I would be interested in hearing back from potential authors. It should not be a problem to negotiate a book deal with a small independent academic publisher (e.g. LAP Lambert or CSP). Alternatively, I have contacts to activist presses that would be able to produce a publication at a much lower RRP and in much greater quantities but would be looking for outputs to be more accessible and shorter than standard academic articles. I would be happy to receive any thoughts or comments.

A short video on Free Public Transport in London by Tiger Monkey UK

Another of the more positive developments for the Campaign has been the growth in affiliated groups across the country (Birmingham, Greater Manchester, Newcastle, Bristol, the Isle of Wight, Cambridgeshire, Scotland). Activists from Bristol have been working with a drama group in London to produce a short film exploring young people’s experience of free bus transport, which you can view at the following link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NaX_cCa8RNY (‘Free Me Campaign Film’)

My apologies once again for the postponement (and the length of the email) and I thank you for your continuing support.

Yours sincerely,


Bob  Jeffery

Free Public Transport Research Coordinator

Visit the campaign website: http://www.freepublictransport.org.uk/
Or to find out more about the research project associated with the campaign, click here: https://fptresearchgroup.wordpress.com/

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Further Abstract: The Economic Benefits of Free Public Transport (Raphie de Santos)

“Most of the arguments for free public transport (FPT) focus on the environmental benefits and the enrichment of people’s lives by allowing them to travel no matter their financial situation. However, it brings many economic benefits to wider society. For example, with vehicle traffic set to rise by 50% over the next 25 years and a corresponding doubling of the time commuters loose because of congestion, FPT would greatly reduce this lost time. The lost time that could be put to more socially useful purposes is just part of the gains of FPT.  Being caught in commuting traffic also creates the wrong frame of mind to tackle future tasks for the day – the multiple problems created by traffic chaos can be measured by the car commuter pain index in which London just ranks behind Madrid and Sao Paulo. FPT would greatly reduce this pain.

The design, administration, construction, maintenance, running, assembly, commissioning and servicing of a FPT system would create hundreds of thousands of jobs and apprenticeships for our young and old. By putting these people to work there would be huge savings in welfare benefits while tax revenues would increase. They would boost the economy not only from the building and running of the FPT system but their own personalexpenditure in the wider economy”.

Raphie De Santos, Financial Analyst and member of the Scottish Socialist Party
Raphie was head of Equity Derivatives Research and Strategy at Goldman Sachs International. He was an advisor on derivatives and financial markets to the Bank of England, London Stock Exchange, London International Financial Futures and Options Exchange and the Italian Ministry of Finance.

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Further Abstract – Dr Gideon Calder – Mobility, Social Exclusion and the Ethics of Transport

“Reports on social exclusion have highlighted that mobility – in the form of everyday access to transport – is unequally distributed, and the source of quite drastic inequalities.  It is intimately tied up with wider patterns of social exclusion.  And yet this issue has been repeatedly neglected, both by New Labour and in the Coalition government’s initial statements on relevant issues.  This talk will consider both reasons for this neglect, and ways in which the importance of access to transport might be stressed, in ethical terms.  It will also ask how free public transport might, in practice, help in addressing these issues.”

Dr. Gideon Calder is Senior Lecturer in Political Philosophy at the Centre for Social Ethics, University of Wales, Newport. He has written widely in his specialist field and is a member of the Editorial Boards of The Journal of Critical Realism and Human Affairs: A Postdisciplinary Journal for Humanities and Social Sciences. He is the author of two books on the philosophy of Richard Rorty and his co-edited collection of essays, ‘Climate Change and Liberal Priorities’ (with Catriona McKinnon) is due to be published in 2011.

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A further abstract: The Social Provision of Sustainable Urban Mobility (Dr Peter Cox)

The Social Provision of Sustainable Urban Mobility: an overview

“Sustainable urban mobility poses a number of important challenges for the way we understand and the values we attach to public life and the spaces in our cities. How we seek to provide mobility for whom, and the priorities we give to different ways and means of moving people around our cities raise questions of values and of justice. Issues of equity, social inclusion, sustainability, private and public spaces, individual and collective life are intertwined in any consideration of the future of urban transport.

This presentation seeks to give an outline of the many and varied connections and interests involved, conflicts arising, and suggests ways in which resolution may be achieved using existing international case studies. It tentatively suggests that planning for just and sustainable urban mobility may be an important way to achieve greater equality beyond traditional welfare provision.

Where urban centres are accessible and inviting for all sections of the population, there are a number of preconditions about social justice that are concurrent with notions of both public space and the public sphere. The provision of accessible and affordable transport, and free in the relevant places, is but one part of an agenda for change, but one of great tactical importance in the reshaping of our attitudes towards social relations.”

Dr Peter Cox is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Social and Communication Studies at the University of Chester and teachs on the Sociology and the Politics programmes, with particular responsibility in the areas of Social Change and Social Movements. His research is primarily in the area of sustainable mobility, with particular reference to the sociology of cycling. He has published extensively around these topics and his latest book ‘Moving People: Sustainable Transport Development’ (2010) is available from Zed Books.


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A further abstract (individualism and the car)…

Alexander Berthelsen of Sweden’s premier free public transport campaigners planka.nu in a paper that raises ideas about ethics, ideology, urban politics and practical activism:


“The current traffic hierarchy, with the car on top and with public transport, bikers and pedestrians at the bottom, manifests itself in the fact that these means of conveyance are given different amounts of space and resources. With the car on top of the traffic hierarchy we get a society built on automobility: a world where our lives, to a far too great extent, are steered by cars.

To be able to fight this traffic hierarchy we need to understand it. This is where the concept of automobility comes in as a way to understand and describe our societies view on mobility and autonomy: you achieve independence through mobility, and true mobility can only be achieved independently. Ideas strongly connected to the liberal ideology that proclaims us all as individuals – free to choose our own way of life – an ideology that in
its most extreme form denies the very existence of society. But, just as the idea of the free individual is created and maintained by a specific formation of society, the idea of automobility needs to be produced and maintained.

In this lecture, Swedish free public transport organisation Planka.nu will dig deeper into the concepts of automobility and the traffic hierarchy to bring forward the connections between liberalism and car-domination. They will also sketch out some of their ideas on how to move beyond automobility towards a fair and common transport system.”


Alexander Berthelsen is editor of Carbusters Magazine. He’s a Swede currently living in Prague, Czech Republic where he’s doing a one-year internship at World Carfree Network. Back in Sweden he’s active in Planka.nu for whom he, amongst other things, wrote the Swedish report “Trafikmaktordningen”, that was recently translated and released in English as “The Traffic Hierarchy”.

Planka.nu is Sweden’s largest public transport NGO, they started up in 2001 as free public transport activists but has since expanded their work into many different areas of urban politics. They maintain the international free public transport site:

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Another abstract for the October conference

Rebecca Steinbach of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Rebecca Steinbach is a Research Fellow in the Department of Social and Environmental Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Her research interests are in transport and health, in both road injuries and transport mode choice, with a particular focus on inequalities.  Recent projects have examined the impact of 20 mph zones on road injury in London and how people choose to travel in London, with an emphasis on cycling. Her current work evaluates the impact of free bus travel for young people on public health and explores the role of exposure in explaining ethnic inequalities in child pedestrian injury risk.

Rebecca’s abstract:

“There has been increasing interest in the ways in which transport policies affect the public health but to date, few robust evaluations of specific policies. This study aims to evaluate the impact of the introduction of free bus and tram travel to under 16 year olds in 2005 and under 18 year olds in 2006 in London. The aims of this policy included reducing transport exclusion among young people. This potentially had a positive effect on the determinants of health and health equity. However, there has been some concern about the potential unintended consequences of the policy such as reducing the amount of healthier ‘active travel’ done by young people, increased exposure to minor crime and assault as young people travel further distances, and impacts on other population groups, such as elderly people. Using a mixed method design, this study aims to provide empirical evidence for the impact of free bus travel on public health, and evaluate the economic costs and benefits.”

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First abstract in for the research section of the conference

Jonathan Tyler of Passenger Transport Networks


He is a Chartered Member of the Institute of Logistics and Transport, a Visiting Research Fellow at the Institute for Transport Studies in the University of Leeds and an Honorary Research Fellow at the Institute of Railway Studies and Transport History in the University of York.

Jonathan’s abstract:
“Public transport will be increasingly important as we face climate change, growing resource scarcity and social pressures.  It must however be of excellent quality if the transition away from the car (and the plane) is to be politically acceptable and if lifestyles are to be satisfying as well as sustainable train, bus and taxi services in Britain are presently of very variable quality: in consequence some have high market shares while many have trivial shares.  There is little sense of a national network with established standards, and public transport is not generally the mode of first choice.  Government policy is confused, fares are too high, and the influence of a small number of powerful corporations is often malign.  The paper will argue that we need a comprehensive new vision, in which limited free services are just one element alongside national planning, integrated timetables, more rational pricing and coherent branding.  Experience in mainland Europe will be touched on – including evidence that too good a policy can cause its own problems – while the whole will be set in the context that the trend to ever-increasing mobility will have to be reversed.”


We are also pleased to announce that Lynsey Hanley (Guardian journalist and author of ‘Estates: An Intimate History) will be giving a talk at the conference about the impact transport can make on quality of life (more details to follow).