From Bełchatów to Żory: Charting Poland's geography of fare-free public transport programmes

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Abstract

This article explores the recent and rapid development of fare-free public transport (FFPT) in local public transport networks across Poland. The question of pricing public transport, in particular the idea of abolishing fares, is gathering increased attention among academics, policy-makers and activists. Albeit the literature on FFPT is growing, it usually examines individual cases instead of offering a comparative analysis across large samples. Therefore, we explore the FFPT landscape of Poland, a country that since 2007 has witnessed a remarkable increase in FFPT cases, with no less than 93 municipalities engaged in fare-free programmes. Our study provides a first inquiry into the temporal and spatial dynamics of FFPT in Poland, identify main characteristics of fare-free localities, and the modus operandi of fare-free schemes. We observe several geographical clusters and distinguish various categories of FFPT municipalities. We further reveal that that fare-free programmes are more likely to emerge in localities with stable or increasing population, relatively high level of public expenditure, and high electoral support for liberal-right and left-wing political parties. Our work concludes with a framework for other large-scale explorations of FFPT, advancing knowledge on this controversial yet increasingly popular policy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103650
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Transport Geography
Volume111
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Science Centre (PL) (Grant No. 2020/37/N/HS4/01285 ) and Research Foundation – Flanders (BE) (Grant Nos. FWOAL943 , FWOTM997 ).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Elsevier Ltd

Copyright:
Copyright 2023 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

Keywords

  • Fare-free public transport
  • Fares
  • Poland
  • Public transport
  • Transport policy

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