The Tempe, Arizona Orbit Bus System is a thorough system that connects most areas of Tempe. It is very efficient, and it is completely free to ride. Currently, I have a car but opt to take the bus because it is quicker and easier. So, I ride the bus to class every day of the week.
The other good thing about these free buses are that they keep people, that would otherwise have no defense, out of the often-oppressive Arizona sun. I often see such individuals resting and even taking naps in the bus system. This may seem inconvenient for others who need to use them for work or job transport, but it saves lives. An added bonus is that I often have conversations with people I would otherwise never ever talk to.
It is kind of a cultural generator for the city of Tempe, Arizona. Many different kinds of people ride the Orbit and unexpected encounters take place on a daily basis. I learn from people often excluded from the public forum, and they sometimes learn from me. If the orbit started charging money, exclusions would begin, and lives and culture would be lost. I am a graduate student, and even I would not be able to afford the $3.50 admission per day, should they enforce a fee.
This free system is an example of good urban planning, leading to cultural design in the fashion of environmental design: When taken as a system, the buses emit less carbon dioxide than Single Occupancy Automobile, are much more efficient at moving large swaths of people, they create an inclusive culture, and they save lives. For these reasons, wherever buses can be free they should be.
Where else can free buses pay off? What kind of added values can a free bus system add to a society? What else should be free and what should have to be paid for?
Credits: Image and data linked to sources.