To get people into transit (and out of cars), American cities are exploring eliminating fares, a practice that has already taken hold in Europe. Detroit, Mich., is one of the latest US cities to offer some public transport service free of charge -- a temporary program to offer free rides on the QLine streetcar into downtown Detroit through the end of the calendar year. Alexandria, Va., is trying to improve transit equity by removing fares in tandem with expanding service. San Francisco is offering free rides on its Muni bus service to all children under 18. “Free transit can be a solution to a problem, but it’s not a solution to all problems. If people are having a hard time getting to work, is it because it’s too expensive? Or because service is not good,” said Antoine Belaieff, a transportation policy expert at FAIRTW, an app that helps simplify transit fare pricing. Belaieff believes that free-fare transit should work toward larger mobility goals, not be an end unto itself.

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