Do All Public Transport Strikes Negatively Impact Passengers?

There might not be such a thing as a free lunch, but there is such a thing as a free bus ride. If you had hopped on a bus in Okayama, Japan, in the spring of 2018, chances are that the driver wouldn't have taken your money.

In 2018, bus drivers in Okayama, Japan, went on strike by continuing to work without collecting passenger fares.
In 2018, bus drivers in Okayama, Japan, went on strike by continuing to work without collecting passenger fares.

The fare strike started with a labor dispute over job security. The city's bus drivers protested by continuing to drive their routes, but they covered up the ticket machines on their buses and let riders hop on for free. It might sound unusual, but the drivers were actually just following in the footsteps – bus tracks? – of previous public transport strikes in other nations.

For example, in 2017, drivers in the Australian cities of Sydney and Brisbane also opted to shun passenger payments. In fact, so-called "fare strikes" date at least as far back as 1944, when streetcar workers in Cleveland, Ohio, kept the lines running but wouldn't take any money. In most cases, the goal of the protesting drivers was to keep good faith with riders while disagreeing with their employers.

The bus business:

  • The French polymath Blaise Pascal came up with the first bus in 1662 – it was driven by horses.

  • Despite not having seat belts, buses are much safer than cars, with high, padded seats and windows designed with safety in mind.

  • The oldest continuously unchanged bus line can be found in London. Route 24 has been traveling the same path since 1912.

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    • In 2018, bus drivers in Okayama, Japan, went on strike by continuing to work without collecting passenger fares.
      In 2018, bus drivers in Okayama, Japan, went on strike by continuing to work without collecting passenger fares.