This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.

Larry Lange looks at free bus service in the P-I, and finds it’s not all it’s cracked up to be:

“A fare-free policy might be appropriate for smaller transit systems in smaller communities, but is ill-advised for larger transit systems in major urban areas,” a 2003 University of South Florida study concluded. It said fare-free service increases maintenance and labor costs and in some cases led to criminal activity that “drove away existing riders.”

In other words, if you want something to have value, you have to make people pay for it, even if it’s just a token amount. it is interesting, though, that Metro estimates that collection costs account for 10% of their budget. Given that the farebox only brings in 15% or so of total revenue, that’s nearly a wasy.