Nationalist, on 26 March 2012 - 01:48 PM, said:
I have occasionally wondered what the costs of making the trains free in the UK would be. They are already heavily subsidised - so if you make them free you (1) lose the ticket revenue, and (2) save the costs of running ticket offices, barriers, inspectors, enforcement etc. I wonder what the money gap would be if you closed that lot down, and if it wouldn't just be worth the government stepping in and saying we'll hand over the extra £X billion for general convenience.
Rather than doing away with fees altogether I think there's probably some optimal fee that is low enough that 99% of the people are prepared to pay it regardless, so you can get away with only having automated barriers and a metro-style zoned fare system. That way you can still heavily reduce ticketing costs, while still getting some revenue.
It's just a pity that any spare cash that ends up in people's pockets will immediately be absorbed by a corresponding increase in house prices.