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One Observed Effect of Unconditional Basic Income: Better More Reliable Transportation

Scott Santens
Scott Santens
2 min read
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Unconditional basic income means many things to many people, being that cash offers total freedom of choice on what good or service to exchange it for, but one particularly common thing it allows people to newly obtain, who feel they need the most help in obtaining it, is transportation.

In the US, 17% of household expenditures are spent on getting from one place to another, which is even more than food at 13% of household expenditures.

Transportation is what allows us to get to our jobs. Without reliable transportation, stable work can be virtually impossible. Transportation can thus be considered one of our costs of working. It’s a cost not accrued to the same degree by those who are non-employed, but it is a financial burden added to the backs of those who are employed or self-employed.

The cost of transportation is thus a barrier to work by those who can’t afford the cost.

In the Ontario basic income pilot, baseline survey data revealed that the number one need participants felt they needed help with was transportation. Survey responses of 10% of the OBIP participants showed that 20% of them could afford transportation in response to the question, "How did basic income change your work life?"but because the pilot was cancelled before any official data could be collected, we’ll never know just how much of an impact the basic income had on transportation there, but we do know how much of an impact an existing UBI has had on transportation elsewhere.

Among Sovereign Native American Nations in the US, tribe members have been receiving dividends for decades, and in qualitative research of the effects of those payments, Thomas Klemm in an interview with the Basic Income Podcast shared one seemingly universal positive impact - better more reliable transportation.

So the biggest thing that everyone said that I talked to is they have better more reliable transportation. It's hard to overstate how important reliable transportation is in rural areas. It's the difference between having a job, getting to doctor's appointments. It's everything. There's no public transportation out where I'm from so that was the biggest one that everyone mentioned up front when I asked them what has been the positive effect. Almost, everyone, the first thing they said was ‘I had better transportation.’

Consider this observed effect on an observed obstacle to employment and then consider just how realistic it is to tell people to “get a job” if they can’t afford to reach them.

Then consider that with UBI, reaching a job becomes far more likely, as does reaching one’s purpose, which is a destination too few people ever reach in a world without basic income.


This short blog post is available as a two-minute video on YouTube which you can also download via Dropbox for your own embedding on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.


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Unconditional basic income (UBI) advocate with a crowdfunded basic income; Author of Let There Be Money; Senior Advisor to Humanity Forward; BasicIncomeToday.com editor; Fund for Humanity board member