All of us wish to breathe clean air. In recent years, a problem of growing importance is how to combat particulates which cause the mixture of fog and smoke known as smog and are harmful to the human environment. International forums have adopted documents to require low emissions. As a result, public authorities of particular states have to tackle the tough challenge of implementing new regulations in their legal framework and administrative practice. For instance, in Poland, at local government level, gmina (municipality) managers are obliged to develop and implement Low-carbon management plans for their gmina (in Polish: Gminne Plany Gospodarki Niskoemisyjnej). At cabinet level, there is an ongoing debate over the imposition of a statutory prohibition on entering city centres in motor vehicles that fail to meet environmental standards. Low-carbon management plans are supposed to take the form of strategic programmes. They are prepared in order to help to achieve target rates of share of renewable energy sources in the state energy balance and to set low limits to emissions. Thereby, programmes offer an action plan to ensure energy security at local level.
The slogans “Clean Air” and “Right to Clean Air” trigger off grassroots movements which try to encourage local government units to take decisive action to promote a pro-ecological transport policy (Meyer & Schuler-Steind 2016). While mindful of the influence of polluted air on human health, local interest groups have social control of authorities. In Poland, in recent times, especially in autumn and winter, the restrictions on exhaust emissions during what is known as the smog alert are in the public eye. Representatives of those promoting an ecologically sound environment put pressure on public authorities on behalf of citizens interested in green issues. They press politicians to take particular measures to achieve immediate success in the management of environmental pollution, most notably of smog and its sources. Nevertheless, one may often get the impression that the measure of success is not the restriction of emissions but the use of the climate of fear. The climate serves other interim activities as the springhead for the social advocacy of prime movers of pro-ecological solutions. Salesmen benefit from pro-ecological efforts by selling devices for “smog measurement” and “smog masks.” Those activities have great social impact but are inevitably interim measures. As such, they do not contribute to a systemic approach to environmental pollution management which seem to be necessary to combat the sources of smog.
The objectives of the article are to present a legal framework for a system of smog alert and free public transport, and to analyse how local authorities have implemented free public transport for all city residents or just for the drivers who decided to forgo driving and had to show their valid vehicle registration certificates to use public transport for free. The paper draws upon interviews and a critical review of the substantive literature about techniques for smog restrictions and smog control. A scientific approach is adopted to the major body of work. Additionally, the analysis compares the pro-ecological activities of local governments in selected Polish cities. It focuses directly on the subjects managing public transport and the operators offering transport services.
The article is intended to verify the hypothesis that local authorities take action as a result of lobbying by grassroots movements. Groups of city residents intervene in politics under the slogans of a right to clean air. Local authorities draw on lobbying and a vogue for green living and politics rather than on a firm diagnosis of the sources of smog in cities. The managers and operators of public transport are unprepared for a possible increase in passenger flows during the so-called smog alert because they did not analyse the costs associated with the free public transport fare days as well as the expected and real passenger flows. Besides, they did not adhere to a basic principle regarding the use of public funds. The principle of cost effectiveness assumes that one bears expenses based on a real or alleged competence to act, the feasibility of the problem, and a financial analysis of the enterprise conducted according to the rules of internal control.
The responses of the units of local government, or bodies ancillary to them, to smog may indicate that local authorities are responsible for air quality. They pursue a particular transport policy and thereby they can actually undertake action to cut back on motor traffic in cities. The above assumption draws upon a body of opinion that the restriction substantially improves air quality. However, students of climate, mostly physicists, point out that the problem of smog is immensely complex. Work on the elimination of low emission sources involves thorough studies and planned systemic activities. The analysis of the sources of air pollution sheds considerable light on the necessity to carry out interdisciplinary research by city planners, specialists in spatial planning and environmental protection, and meteorologists. The recognition of smog as an unnatural, atmospheric phenomenon which is the effect of human activity and climate change produces serious difficulties in determining major sources of smog, a methodology of pollen count examination, and public subjects responsible for taking remedial action. In spite of there being no unambiguous way of resolving the above dilemmas, local authorities jointly responsible for environmental quality on their areas have co-created a group of bodies that fight against smog and prevent its occurrence. The activities of local authorities formulated in relation to an environmentally friendly transport policy require an integrated approach between the public administration and the private sector. It is only in this environment that it is possible to manage mobility at the level of a commune, region and country (Cervero, Caldwell & Cuellar 2013) in order to promote ecological forms of urban mobility. Such action will change the Polish culture of mobility towards improving transport accessibility in the city while reducing the use of private cars for daily commuting, or allowing the rationalisation of their use by combining private and public transport (Salonen & Toivonnen 2013). The results of the study may be useful for public transport organisers, municipal councillors, the authors of draft anti-smog resolutions, who, as the research results demonstrate, are not sufficiently active in presenting an integrated approach to clean air policy in their communes. Attention should also be paid to employees of the administrative departments of municipalities whose role is to check the economic efficiency of decisions financed from public funds.
State of the art
A critical review of the substantive literature shows that small towns, such as Swedish town of Avesta, Belgian Hasselt, and Spanish Manises, with populations of no more than 72 000 inhabitants, and medium-sized cities, such as the Estonian city of Tallinn which has a population of 500 000, rather than the major cities, have implemented free public transport. In turn, some other cities exempted particular groups of city dwellers from fares, e.g., in Germany and the Kingdom of the Netherlands, students and senior citizens had free use of public transport. In German towns of Templinie and Lubben, local authorities implemented a 100% concessionary fare available to all, but they swiftly abandoned this policy. However, in no case that the author of the article knows about were environmental concerns the only motive for implementing free public transport. Local authorities sought to widen the scope of local public services available to the gmina’s inhabitants for free (Keupp 2017).
Some experts (Mass, Waluga & Weyland 2015; Dievel & Trischler 2009: 306) go along with a view that free public transport is an intrinsic illusion. The costs of the performance of the system have to be defrayed and public bodies which commission the transport services have to pay for them. A public body has limited resources which come from payments by the public. It should be noted that there are challenges that have to be met by the organiser of public transport during the implementation of a free public transport programme. The most important of these are: the growth in passenger flow, a necessity to replace passenger vehicles with more capacious ones, an increase in customer demand, new transport requirements, the indispensability of increasing the frequency of vehicle journeys, an increase in occupation of the means of transport, and a reduction in the quality of public service, to mention but a few. So, the costs of both free public transport and the concessionary fare on trips may result in the escalation of the grant which is to be paid by the organisers of public transport (Anderson 2009: 82).
Let us move on to the methods of restriction of emissions in Poland. One ought to draw attention to guidelines on expanding the European Union’s resources for climate protection and the promotion of sustainable urban mobility. According to the guide, authorities have to develop and launch a Low-Carbon Management Programme at local government level. In drawing upon the exploration of background air pollution in gminas, the programme indicates emission sources, determines how to eliminate them, and establishes the indicators of a desirable state of air quality in the future. Grant aid for the limitation of emission levels is conditioned on the acceptance of the programme, and it consists of, among other items, support for the replacement of pulverised coal-fired and coal-fired boilers, purchase of quality coal and low-emission fleets, construction of integration nodes, and the regeneration of public open space by planting and creating urban parks. Local authorities should link gmina activities in air remediation to other policies which are only seemingly irrelevant to clean air. Figure 1 presents the review of selected policies.
The effectiveness of actions undertaken to limit low emissions in a gmina requires the synchronisation of a gmina’s strategic documents and the appropriate hierarchisation of tasks. Only the use of an integrated approach can provide local authorities with appropriate measures to improve the quality of life in their area. Inconsistency between documents and decision making, often also hampered by inconsistency in parking policy, domestic refuse management, landscape planning, and urban transport, leads to the accomplishment of publicly funded tasks inadequate for actual needs. One may find it a waste of public money.
Researchers are split over what triggers off smog and how to measure pollen count. Although the article does not aim to settle the question definitively, it discusses how personal and public transport affects emissions and the occurrence of smog. It assesses if what are known as free urban transport days constitute an efficient mode of smog control. Those issues are of vital importance in terms of the research hypothesis.
According to the report of the Polish Supreme Audit Office (Najwyższa Izba Kontroli 2014: 21), the underlying cause of smog on a national scale is the presence of heating boilers in private households - low level emissions. The report indicates that such low volume emissions generate from 82% to 92.3% of smog. Transport pollution constitutes from 5.4% to 7% of smog. In turn, industry causes pollution which creates from 1.8% to 9% of smog. “Whereas in the years 2007-2008, several critical factors produced air pollution of PM10, recently (2009-2012), low level emissions were the fundamental cause of that kind of pollution (82%–92.8%). Transport pollution (5.4%–7%) and industrial pollution (1.8%–9%) were the remaining but no less important causes. The sources of air pollution of B(a)P were similar. In the years 2007-2012, air pollution of that substance stemmed from emissions from heating boilers in private households (45.8% out of all incidents of contravention of an acceptable level of pollution in 2007, 69% in 2008, 90.4% in 2009, 96% in 2010, 94.1% in 2011, and 96% in 2012)” (Najwyższa Izba Kontroli 2014: 22).
Other causes of smog are:
- atmospheric factors;
- poor quality of heating fuels;
- low price for the poor quality of fuel;
- the lack of environmental standards in both heating boilers and the quality of fuel;
- low temperatures in winter and high temperatures in summer (the Great Smog of London and smog in California);
- relatively heavy motor traffic (but it has virtually no influence on smog because “The chart of air quality from 9 January 2017 points out that the record-breaking contraventions of the acceptable level of pollution occurred in small localities as well” on holidays and thereby during relatively light motor traffic);
- limited atmospheric circulation (Najwyższa Izba Kontroli 2014: 23).
However, the report of the Supreme Audit Office presents the rates averaged for the entire country, whereas specialists note that the analysis of sources of smog might indicate different configurations of factors which cause smog. According to the State Sanitary Inspectorate, the sources of smog are the following: low volume emissions – 60%, transport pollution (car fumes) – 30%, and other factors, mainly industry – 10% (Powiatowa Stacja…n.d.). The Polish Committee for Standardisation, which determines Polish Standards for the measurement of air pollution in Poland, accepts materially different data. According to the Polish Committee for Standardisation, low volume emissions cause 52% of smog, industry – 17%, road transport – 10%, industrial power generation – 9%, other sources – 8%, and husbandry – 4% (Polski Komitet…2017). As the Chief Inspector of Environmental Protection argues, the differences in measurement may be the result of the use of different methods of measurement, measurement uncertainty associated with it, the completeness of the series of measurements, and the location of testing stations. Within the framework of State Environmental Monitoring, the Chief Inspector of Environmental Protection measures the particle count according to the Directive 2008/50/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 May 2008 on ambient air quality and cleaner air for Europe (Dyrektywa… 2008) and the regulation of the Polish Minister of Environment of September 2012 (Minister Środowiska 2012). The Chief Inspector of the Environment conducts periodic studies on the occurrence of PM10. They show that the size of emissions and emission precursors, conditions for pollution to enter into the air, the location of emission sources, arrangement of features on an area of land, land development, meteorological conditions, and other factors concomitantly influence the PM10 concentration level (Iwanek et al. 2016).
The above statements correspond closely to the opinion of T. Kopta (2017) who emphasises that even though we have sound knowledge of the concentration of air pollution, we do now know what exactly the sources of pollution are. As a result of a comparative analysis of many monographs and research conducted according to various methodological approaches, the author claims that whereas the role of heating boilers is overstated among the sources of smog, the share of vehicles is understated. Furthermore, T. Kopta sheds considerable light on the problem of so-called secondary emissions. This occurs when the wheels of vehicles gather all things lying in the street and coming from different sources. In conclusion, T. Kopta appeals to the authority to ban the use of cars in favour of public transport because the prohibition may genuinely reduce the risk of smog.
P. Talaga (2017) takes a slightly different stance on the sources of smog from T. Kopta, paying attention to the politicisation of smog. The author notes that according to the arguments of the parliamentary opposition, the ruling party is responsible for smog because it is failing to pursue a proper energy policy and promotes old, high- emission sources of energy needed to develop the Polish economy. P. Talaga makes an outstanding contribution to the discussion by highlighting that, according to measuring devices, smog also arose in Warsaw and other cities on a day with low levels of motor traffic, that is on a holiday. This provides evidence of the stance that cars are not the principal source of smog. In particular, P. Talaga raises the subject of fuel poverty. This phenomenon occurs when the owners of houses heated with coal buy poorer quality raw material and burn rubbish due to their having insufficient funds. Though the anti-smog law has applied for several years in Poland, local governments still avoid using their legal right to indicate, on their areas, poorer fuels that should be forbidden because of their composition and mode of burning.
To sum up the above arguments, specialists support the view that it is of vital importance to define the sources of smog because they are responsible for the quality of the air we breathe. The current public debate over smog control methods sets an example of avoiding taking responsibility for smog and passing responsibilities on from central to local government and the other way round. In addition, the debate is also an individualistically understood race for the promotion of environmentally friendly attitudes and actual pro-ecological activities. In the absence of unambiguous methods of measuring the concentration of PM10 and PM2.5 as well as, most of all, a clear role of personal transport in the creation of smog, specialists find it hard to contend that the implementation of free public transport fare days prevents smog.
Empirical research results
The following part of the article introduces the results of interviews carried out by the author with representatives of the bodies responsible for urban transport management in selected Polish cities which, in drawing upon local laws, decided to exempt city residents from public transport fares. In order to solve the research problem, the author used familiar political analysis techniques, albeit secondary, by using interviews and comparative analysis. It is difficult to apply other methods with such a specific research problem. The research goal was not to answer questions about the actual sources of smog as an atmospheric phenomenon, but to indicate how those city authorities providing free public transport on the smog alert days are in practice prepared for coherent and effective action in this area.
The organiser of public transport is a public body having the competence to impose regulations in relation to fares for urban public transport. Ideally, the body may exempt passengers from fares under the regulations. In practice, we have various independent legal frameworks and decision-making methods in each gmina, or multi-gmina bodies may perform the role of regulatory authorities. According to an agreement between several gminas, the competence to act independently may be delegated to one of them.
Both gminas providing public transport themselves, and multi-gmina bodies, may pass resolutions changing the transport regulations which had been operating until that point in time. In doing so, they provide for the exemption of all city residents or some groups of them from the obligation to pay public transport fares, after meeting some defined requirements. However, the measurement methods for those requirements and the institutions that measure them remain another important subject of regulations. The administrator of the urban public transport service takes the regulations into consideration before declaring a free urban transport day.
The same mechanism should work for gminas which run urban public transport through intergmina agreements. Additionally, in integrated systems, free urban transport days are a sensible initiative only when the whole system applies it. The solution is relatively ineffective when merely one, two, or three municipalities participate in it. Apparently, the problem of low volume emissions on functional areas is not determined by the regulatory limits of gminas. The analysis of draft acts and those acts which already are binding local law shows that, despite obvious counter-arguments, councillors decided to approve resolutions for draft statutes limiting exemptions from fares, e.g., in Poznan. As a result, drivers with valid vehicle registration certificates of cars registered in Poznan were the sole beneficiaries of the initiative (Przewodniczący Rady Miasta Poznania 2016). In spite of the Deputy Mayor of Poznań’s objection (Zastępca Prezydenta Miasta Poznania 2016) the councillors adopted the resolution in a slightly modified form. In integrated systems, the resolution should cover urban transport trips on the area of the city and neighbouring gminas which joined the agreement to provide public transport together (Rada Miasta Krakowa 2015). It is also necessary to establish conclusively what are the subjective and objective scopes of the acts. First, a concessionary fare in the form of a free ride may concern exclusively car-owners, car-owners and as many of their passengers as they have passenger seats in a car, or all those who make use of urban transport on a given day. The last solution may provoke a conflict between the passengers who have bought a season ticket and the organiser of the initiative.1 Secondly, the organiser may offer a 100% concessionary fare on all public transport trips.
Equally important questions to be settled are the credibility of the measurement methods adopted to classify results on smog alert levels, and the modes of informing city residents. One should always calculate the financial consequences before bringing in any act. They differ markedly in their objective scope. The body of opinion that considers that the implementation of new concessions does not result in an expansion of expenditure by the public transport operator is following a fallacious premise. In fact, the annual costs of a transport system are relatively stable. City inhabitants enjoy real benefits from concessionary fares on selected days, but the system bears the expenses of the loss of sale proceeds from tickets. Local authorities should compensate the system operator for these expenses with, e.g., an increase in the level of grants for the provision of urban transport. Some specialists maintain, “Of course, free trips will imply the growth of grants. So, unless fiscal charges increase, it will be necessary to redeploy public expenditure or limit traffic” (Koteras 2016).
The operators of public transport systems may decrease the share of personal transport in the overall balance sheet of trips by city residents by:
- the establishment of a parking policy, e.g., by adopting a paid parking zone;
- marketing activity to promote urban public transport;
- employment of a system of incentives in a transport statute or fee statutes, e.g., reduction in the price of trips;
- development and implementation of intelligent transport systems to smooth out the flow of traffic in the city;
- improvement of the accessibility of urban public transport;
- upgrading the perception of services, e.g., modernisation of the fleet and purchase of green public service vehicles;
- extension of transport networks;
- implementation of a bicycle-sharing system;
- optimisation of public transport timetables;
- extension of transfer nodes (intermodal transport) et al.
Even though the above activities are just examples, they expose the necessity of integrating initiatives on many topics.
The author of the article interviewed the bodies performing the role of organiser of urban public transport in Krakow, Kielce, Warsaw, Bialystok, Pabianice, and Katowice (Table 1). He asked them about the legal basis for the regulations adopted to have a free urban transport day because of the smog alert.
Legal basis for the implementation of the free urban transport day
Source: own elaboration
|City||Resolution Of The Elected Gmina Council||Resolution Of The Intergmina Union Council||Order Of The Chairman Of The Intergmina Union Or Mayor|
As the first part of the article shows, the subjective scope of the concessions is a matter of essential importance (Table 2). It reflects the main principles of transport policy adopted, and it may be useful to assess the free urban transport day initiative in terms of whether it is well-thought out on its merits, to what extent it is a real incentive to use public transport when the particulate count reaches a high value, or if it is merely a temporary solution that has indiscriminate results.
The subjective scope, costs, and dates of use of the concession fare on urban public transport
Source: own elaboration
|The costs per day of running the fare exemption [PLN]||400,000||fixed service costs*||3,005.27||30,000||86,500||ca. 50,000|
|Costs per year of the system of urban public transport [PLN]||2,700,000,000||496,340,000 net**||11,261,400||79,647,107||113,800,000||600,000,000|
|Estimated increase in service costs of urban public transport, including free urban transport days [PLN]||difficult to estimate due to numerous factors affecting the extent of revenues from the sale of tickets||fixed service costs*||the costs do not increase but income decreases||30,000||86,500||cumulatively ca. 150,000|
|Estimated increase in number of customers on free urban transport days||no data/increased passenger flows in the underground by +10%||one may assume that 25% of drivers that showed valid vehicle registration certificates during ticket control on the free urban transport day used public transport only because of free tickets||no data||not noticed||no data||no data|
The analysis of the answers to the questions concerning the estimated costs of the implementation of a new concessionary fare and larger passenger flows on the free urban transport days indicates that some organisers are not mindful of the impact of inviting new passengers to their public service vehicles. They are unsure about how many passengers will wish to take advantage of their offer, and whether the performance of the transport system’s equipment in traffic will allow them to satisfy the newly emerging transport needs. Few organisers of public transport are aware of the financial consequences of the concessionary fare. In the light of the rules in relation to the expansion of public resources, the existing situation may bewilder and concern us. Moreover, the organisers who had to forecast utilisation on days when there was a potential for wider interest in public transport did not take into consideration the most important criteria for choosing urban public transport to meet transport needs, such as a comfortable ride quality, the aesthetics of the trip, and the frequency of services. Therefore, the organisers operated against both their regular customers and those who might have been stimulated by free trips to permanently choose public transport as a means of transport. It is unclear and surprising why the administrators of means of urban public transport did not evaluate the solution that was implemented. As a matter of fact, they should have carried out an analysis because they should have aimed to encourage people to change their culture of mobility and, as a result, to decrease their use of personal motor transport as a part of a strategy to reduce emissions by using a concessionary fare on urban public transport. To put it simply, the organisers did not know what the results of their activities were. In general, the holder of public resources should examine, on the basis of their own research and data from operators, what the results of the implementation of a new concession are, and if it brings about the expected effects. The information would be a vital element of studies on the effectiveness of the solution, especially in cities and conurbations with an acute problem of low volume emissions, e.g. Kraków.
Table 3 presents the rationale for the implementation of the free urban transport days. None of the interviewees indicated that city residents, environmentalists, or other interest groups inspired the initiative. Instead, most of them introduced the initiative as the organiser of public transport’s effort modelled on those of other cities or at the initiative of the gmina manager.
Rationale for the implementation of a new concessionary fare on a ride
|Lobbying of city residents||no data|
|Lobbying of environmental organisations||no data|
|own initiative||x||no data||x|
|Other cities have adopted such solutions as well||x||no data||x|
|Conscious own initiative||x||no data||x||x|
|Initiative of the gmina manager||x||no data||x||x||x|
|Others. If so, please point out what|
The activities in favour of the restriction of low level emissions by the promotion of public transport and other solutions changing a culture of mobility involve a systemic approach. Hence, one of the last questions for interviewees concerned the initiatives already undertaken and planned (Table 4). As the answers show, most of the organisers of public transport apply incentives of various kinds. The most frequent activities are the modernisation of a transport fleet, deployment of information and communications technology systems to increase customer satisfaction of the use of urban transport (e.g. passenger information in real time), demarcation of bus lanes, an extension of transport networks, and optimisation of already existing networks. Some of them are consistent with other elements of transport policy of the city, e.g., parking and bicycle policy.
Activities other than a bicycle-sharing system undertaken by the organisers of public transport to decrease the role of personal transport in the overall balance sheet of city residents’ daily trips
Source: own elaboration
|Warsaw||The purchase of new passenger vehicle stock, construction of new tram routes and a second underground line, enhance-ment of ticket sales, development of the park and ride system (incentive parking), putting the social network zielonamapa. waw.pl into service, and dialogue with city residents.||The modernisation and purchase of new passenger vehicle stock, development of a second underground line and the park and ride system, implementation of free trips for primary school pupils, development of the social network zielonamapa.waw.pl, and meetings with city residents.|
|Kraków||Giving priority to public transport in traffic, replacement of passenger vehicle stock, and promotional and marketing activities.||The continuation of the activities already undertaken.|
|Katowice||The implementation of the Silesian Public Services Card (in Polish: Śląska Karta Ustug Publicznych) offering competitive prices for tickets and a concession in the form of the free urban transport day.||The closer integration and optimisation of urban (conurbation) transport, implementation of telematic systems, and modernisation of the transport fleet.|
|Pabianice||The implementation of a paid parking zone and promotional activities, especially during the Week of Sustainable Transport.||The purchase of hybrid buses, implementation of intelligent transport systems, modernisation of a tram route, and improvement of the bus and tram stop infrastructure.|
|Kielce||The development of bus lanes, modernisation of the transport fleet, implementation of the Kielce Urban Card, improvement of passenger information, optimisation of public transport timetables, construction of park and ride facilities, deployment of a traffic control system, and improvement of access to ticket sales points.||The development of new bus lanes, implementation of an integrated traffic control system, extension of public transport networks, and purchase of 25 new hybrid buses.|
|Białystok||The implementation of Białystok Bicycle Transport (in Polish: BiKeR – Białostocka Komunikacja Rowerowa), the organisation of the Week of Sustainable Transport, and the demarcation of bus lanes.||We are not planning any activities currently.|
The article is a contribution to discussion on the provision of free urban transport by gminas which are making attempts to eliminate sources of air pollution. It verifies the hypothesis that local authorities act as a result of lobbying by grassroots movements. Groups of the cities’ inhabitants intervene in politics under the slogans of a right to clean air. Local authorities draw on lobbying and the vogue for green living and politics rather than on a firm diagnosis of the sources of smog in cities. The managers and operators of public transport are unprepared for possible increases in passenger flows during the smog alert days because they did not analyse the costs of the implementation of the free fare days in public transport and the expected and real passenger flows. Additionally, they do not adhere to a fundamental principle when demanding the use of public funds. The principle of good financial management assumes that one bears expenses based on a real or alleged competence to act, the feasibility of resolving the problem, and a financial analysis of the enterprise conducted according to the rules of internal control.
The author draws upon information from the bodies that manage urban public transport to formulate the following conclusions:
In every instance, the initiative of amending transport statutes, which consists in the implementation of a 100% concession fare on the all public transport trips during the smog alert, came from the gmina manager or was an initiative of the organiser of public transport modelled on other cities. That argument allows us to reject the hypothesis that city residents and interest groups inspire local authorities to act.
In every case, local authorities did not run simulations of the utilisation of the means of urban transport on the free urban transport days. Furthermore, they avoided the evaluation of their activities. Only in the case of the Warsaw Metro, did the local authority notice a 10% growth in passenger flows. Such activities are unreasonable because they potentially decrease the quality of public services which may encourage people to change their culture of mobility.
In three instances, the organiser had the ability to estimate the costs of urban transport on the free urban transport day. The research did not try to examine the methodology adopted for studying the costs. Rather, it endeavoured to establish if local authorities approved the evaluation as an element of sound management of costs in public transport.
All the bodies interviewed declared that they pursued a pro-ecological policy. It consisted of the development of a system of incentives to use public transport. Many initiatives were designed to enhance the quality of public services. The replacement of a transport fleet with new green passenger stock and the modernisation of concomitant infrastructure were the major projects involved.
In the light of the continuing uncertainty about how urban transport influences smog occurring in the city, activities such as free urban transport days are of a subsidiary nature. They should aspire to change the culture of mobility and decrease the role of personal transport in the overall balance sheet of the trips of city residents. Local authorities of comparable European cities have pointed out the reasons mentioned as the reason for implementing free or cheap urban transport.
“Free public transport” is a marketing term. Somebody always has to pay for every public service. Thus, local authorities should compensate for the depletion of ticket sales with either an increase in grant aid or a limitation on the number of trips (e.g., during holiday periods). Specialists emphasise, that the influence of free urban transport days on the increase in the use of public transport and equilibration of urban mobility has no empirical verification and remains entirely hypothetical.
City policy for countering the negative effects of smog and its sources requires a coherent, integrated approach articulated by all the organisational units of both the city and the private sector. Activities consisting in not charging fees on a day of increased concentration of dust/low emissions/, are not a sufficient measure to achieve the goal, which in this case is to improve the quality of air inhaled.
From the point of view of urban transport policy, free public transport should be part of a wider offer of measures reducing the use of individual transport in meeting everyday transport needs. In other words, it must be part of an integrated environmental policy. Among the activities undertaken by other cities on can note the separation of closed zones for specific types of vehicles (Umweltzone), creation of closed zones for cars, imposition of limited speed zones, car-sharing, reduction of the price of public transport, construction of P + R car parks, B + R, extension of safe bicycle paths within the city bike path system and other initiatives.
Due to the growing problem of smog and its negative impact on human life environment, public institutions, when taking actions to lower low emissions, should prepare them in a reliable manner and measure their effectiveness. Announcing a day of free communication has no sense when we do not know how many new passengers will benefit from this offer. The carrier must be aware of number of passengers that could be taken on board, estimated additional costs, as well as forces and resources that should be reserved to meet all residents’ expectations. Otherwise, instead of increasing the popularity of public transport, customers are made discouraged from using it. Such an effect of free communication in the days of smog alert is not desired by this offer’s originators either. Free public transport during smog alert is a good initiative that needs though to be refined as a result of reliable evaluation.
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