Luxembourg has become the first country in the world to provide public transport for free. The small EU hub aims to boost tram, train and bus usage and rid itself of traffic jams blamed on commuters using private cars.
There are already cities that have introduced such measures—Tallinn—but Luxembourg is the only to do it for a whole country.
It will apply to all trams, trains and buses and—unlike Estonia’s capital—will be available to tourists as well as residents. “The introduction of free public transport is an important social measure,” said Luxembourg’s minister for mobility, François Bausch.
“You could describe it as the social icing on the cake of the global strategy for a multimodal revolution. Apart from this, we want to acknowledge all those people who have already made the choice in favour of public transport.”
With a population of only 614,000, it may be one of Europe’s smallest countries and the idea is not unprecedented. But the “free mobility” drive has captured the imagination. Buses, trams and trains are now free to ride on and you don’t need a ticket.
One aim is to ease traffic congestion but critics see it as a PR stunt. “The government wants Luxembourg to become a laboratory for mobility,” says Mobility Minister François Bausch, who points to the grand duchy’s fast-rising population, with a rise of 40% in 20 years.
The price of the project will be the €41m in lost ticket fares, but that will be shouldered by the taxpayer. “Of course, just because I call it free transport doesn’t mean nobody pays,” said Mr Bausch, who is part of Luxembourg’s green party, déi Gréng. The total cost of running the service is more than €500m so the government sees the lost fare revenue as relatively small. Transport staff will not lose their jobs, they will merely spend less time checking tickets.
It was not exactly pricey before 29 February. A fare cost €2, and double for a day pass. Many workers have their annual travel pass subsidised in Luxembourg, so few people spend much on transport anyway.
Via DW / BBC