Luxembourg to make public transport free

The country aims to reduce congestion, by implementing the measure nationwide.

Luxembourg will become the world’s first country to offer a free public transport system, as the government works to tackle its troublesome car traffic.

Highlighted in the plans of the re-elected coalition government led by Xavier Bettel, fares on trains, trams and buses will be lifted from this Saturday.

While the financial impact on locals will benefit approximately 40% of households it will be beneficial in others ways.

With a population of only 614,000, it certainly makes the idea a lot easier to implement quickly, and it may even help to boost tourism for those looking at more cost-effective holidays.

Most importantly, it will highlight to Luxembourgers the severity of their country’s environmental problems.

A 2018 survey by TNS Ilres found that cars accounted for 47% of business travel and 71% of leisure.

While buses are used for only 32% of trips to work, followed by trains, which account for 19%.

The idea was inspired by Tallinn in Estonia, which in 2013 became the first European capital to offer a fare-free service on buses, trams and trolleybuses. Its residents pay €2 for a “green card”, after which all journeys are free.

While some cities such as Tallinn, and northern French city Dunkirk, have implemented this, the transport ministry has said it was the only time such a decision had been taken to implement this across a whole country.

The decision does make perfect sense. After all, Luxembourg has the most cars per person in the EU, only slightly below the US.

Furthermore, in 2018 the European Commission issued a letter of notice to Luxembourg and three other nations, including the UK, regarding its vehicle type approval rules.

On the decision behind this nationwide initiative, the transport minister, François Bausch, said: “Systematic and continuous investment is a sine qua non-essential condition for promoting the attractiveness of public transport.”

As for the lost ticket money, sales from the existing €2 tickets amount to €41m a year, which the authorities said represented just 8% of the annual budget of €500m. This will now be met by the Treasury.

The only exception to the free-for-all public transport system will be first-class travel on trains and certain night bus services.

Any initiative that is going towards reducing carbon emissions is certainly something we can get behind!

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