April 6, 2023

Free public transport: new policy

It is a new global tentation - to pilot free transport

The first in the EU to implement fare-free public transit was Hasselt (Belgium, 1997). Later zero-fare public transport was introduced in  Dunkirk (France, 2018) and Luxembourg (2020). The solutions proved to be effective – cities managed to motivate citizens use fewer private vehicles and reduce fuel consumption.

Malta introduced free public transport since 1 October 2022. Thus, it became the second European country to abolish public transport fares.

In 2022 the decision was supported by other EU countries. Germany introduced great discounts on inter-city trains. And Spain introduced free urban transport and suburban trains since September till December. This types of transport provide about 48 million trips per month. Madrid and Barcelona agglomerations contribute 80% of passenger traffic.

Also experiments started in the US. Albuquerque, New Mexico and Kansas City launched zero-fare public transport initiatives to get people out of cars. After the pilot Boston City Hall announced that all public transportation in the city will be free.

Los Angeles, Oakland, and Denver launched «universal basic mobility» pilot programs that provide transportation subsidies for public transit, bike and e-scooter rentals – in exchange for discounts for residents.

Some reports say that the only country that is still dissatisfied with the result is Estonia: Tallinn became zero-fare in 2013. Since that time budget expenses grew significantly but on the contrary the popularity of Tallin’s public transport didn’t change rateably.

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