Flickr/TomPagenet

We'll take a cup of kindness yet, for Auld Lang Syne.

New York has its reputation, but Los Angeles will be the friendlier city to mass transit riders tonight, as the City of Angels again offers free subway and bus rides until two in the morning.

L.A. will be joined in this endeavor by a number of cities across the world that eliminate their fares on New Year's Eve in an effort to discourage driving. There will also be free public transit in Minneapolis, Las Vegas, Durham, North Carolina, and on some lines in the Bay Area.

The European capitals, as is often the case in transit matters, are leading the way. In London, tube, bus, tram, and light rail will be free from quarter to midnight until quarter to five. In Paris, certain Metro lines will run all night, and access to Metro, bus and commuter rail services will be free from 5 pm on December 31st until noon the next day. (Those Parisians mean business.) 

In New York City, home to the world's most famous New Year's celebration (and one of its more dysfunctional public transit authorities), nothing will be free. But it once was: on New Year's Eve in 1984 and 1985, the MTA made a number of its systems free to revelers. 

Results were mixed. The Long Island Railroad, which participated in '84 and did not in '85, reported that many trains had been transformed into mobile party units, teeming with miscreants with no particular destination. A hundred of the 225 LIRR trains running that night had to be delayed due to a "variety of mischievous activities." The number of felonies and arrests on the subway that night nearly doubled, to 55 and 29, respectively, from 33 and 15 the previous year.

The downfall of free transit in New York was decidedly more pedestrian, though. A budget crisis killed the experiment in December, 1986.

Top image: The London Tube, Dec. 31, 2006. Flickr user Tom Pagenet.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. A map showing the affordability of housing in the U.S.
    Equity

    Minimum Wage Still Can’t Pay for a Two-Bedroom Apartment Anywhere

    The 30th anniversary edition of the National Low Income Housing Coalition report, “Out of Reach,” shows that housing affordability is getting worse, not better.

  2. Two men with yellow hard hats surrounded by technology boxes
    Life

    Job Density Is Increasing in Superstar Cities and Sprawling in Others

    A study finds job density increased in the U.S. over a 10-year period. But four cities: New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Seattle, accounted for most of it.

  3. A photo of a cyclist on the streets of Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood.
    Equity

    Can Historic Preservation Cool Down a Hot Neighborhood?

    The new plan to landmark Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood aims to protect more than just buildings: It’s designed to curb gentrification.

  4. Four young adults exercise in a dark, neon-lit gym.
    Life

    Luxury Gyms Invite You to Work Out, Hang Out, Or Just Work

    With their invite-only policies and coworking spaces, high-end urban gyms aspire to be fitness studio, social club, and office rolled into one.

  5. A photo of a Google employee on a bicycle.
    Equity

    How Far Will Google’s Billion-Dollar Bay Area Housing Plan Go?

    The single largest commitment by a private employer to address the Bay Area’s acute affordable housing crisis is unique in its focus on land redevelopment.

×