11 rides for the price of 10 for the price of 17

Those who bemoan public transportation in the US tend to point to Europe, drooling slightly, and state, “But, but, it’s soooo awesome over there! Why can’t we have that?” Obviously the simple answer is that NYC does have that and the rest of the US used to have it that good before everyone got auto-erotic-fixation in the 1950’s and we ripped out all the old train rails so they wouldn’t be coming back any time soon.

Of course, even though Europe has great public transportation, it comes at a cost; namely that the cost of using it keeps going up. The 10 ride booklet in Barcelona, known as the T-10 and good for use on any system of the city be it metro, bus, tram, etc., has increased 61% in the last 10 years. The latest increase was at the start of 2012 where it went from €8.25 to 9.25, a 12% increase in a time of less and less jobs and less and less money to those that still have them.

This type of increase isn’t atypical. I saw it in San Francisco with the Muni doubling over a period of eight years when the price had held steady for the 10 years prior to that. Most people just sucked it up and paid it. A few would try and do things like leave transfers at bus stops that still had time on them (you get 90 minutes to transfer to another line). Of course, the infrequency of San Francisco public transportation often made that a non-option and now with the Clipper Card, even less so.

The Barcelonins are trying a similar tact with their T-11 project. Basically, when you use your tenth ride and get off a bus or out of the metro, you leave the ticket somewhere so that someone else can pick it up to use within the 75 minutes allotted for transfers. They even have an app to let people know where one has been left or to search for one where you are.

In Barcelona, this actually works as the public transportation is incredibly frequent. Unfortunately, even with doing this and eeking out another 11th ride from the 10 ride ticket, the transportation system still gets their price increase/blood money but it functions to give a “botifarra” in their general direction. And here I’m sure all visitors to Barcelona thought that the residents enjoyed riding bikes for their health as opposed to the truth that the money saved in cycling allows more money to be spent on food.