This post is a short summary of a recently published article where I examine the Wroclaw Anarchist Federation campaign for a fare-free public transport policy (FFPT).
The FFPT Campaign: A Catalyst for Socially Just Planning
In addition to studying the impact of fare-free public transportation policies in different cities, I wanted to examine how these policies are being introduced into transportation planning discussions. The campaign for Free Fare Public Transport in Wroclaw, led by the Wroclaw Anarchist Federation (WAF), provided a practical case study.
Strategies and Mobilization: Amplifying the Message Online
Initially, the FFPT campaign revolved around ecological arguments, focusing on mitigating the negative externalities associated with excessive car use and addressing climate concerns. However, the movement´s framing of the campaign gradually evolved, emphasizing the FFPT as a vital catalyst for socially just urban and transport planning practices. By highlighting the possibilities of FFPT to reduce societal inequalities and foster a more environmentally friendly transport system, the campaign resonates with the broader objectives of sustainable urban development.
In this regard, WAF is positioning itself as a key proponent of sustainable innovation and advocates for accelerating the pace of the sustainable transition. Drawing inspiration from A. Wagner et al.’s (2019) triple model of discursive practices , the movement employs various strategies to mobilize people and sustain public discourse. While the WAF shares common mechanisms with other urban social movements, such as Forum De Lutas (Rio de Janeiro, razil) (Enright, 2019) and Planka.nu (Stockholm, Sweden) (Nygård, 2019), it also leverages the power of online activism to amplify its message.
Beyond Endpoints: Transformative Goals of FFPT Campaigns
One crucial distinction among these movements is how they frame the problems they aim to address. While WAF initially focused on environmental arguments, movements like Planka.nu and Forum De Lutas perceive fares as tools reinforcing socio-spatial segregation (as evidenced in Mujcic & Frijters, 2020 or Sträuli & Kębłowski, 2022). They view FFPT as a transformative solution to combat these inequalities. Therefore, the FFPT campaigns go beyond mere endpoints for public transport development, triggering more profound changes in the transport and urban development landscape.
Examining the FFPT campaigns through a comparative lens offers insights into the factors contributing to success or failure. While movements like Forum De Lutas and Planka.nu have achieved tangible outcomes by exerting pressure and implementing concrete solutions, the FFPT campaign led by WAF faces challenges. The absence of evidence on how FFPT could address identified problems and limited support from experts undermine the campaign’s credibility and impede significant milestones.
Movements such as WAF, Planka.nu, and Forum De Lutas are crucial as they highlight the flaws in current transportation systems that contribute to socio-spatial segregation and propose alternative solutions. The FFPT campaign questions the effectiveness of transportation methods and explores political issues related to power distribtion or social-spatial inequalities.