Public transport is free: This is how a French city said goodbye to the ticket

Residents of the city of Montpellier can use the city’s public transportation for free with a special pass. The initiative does not represent an absolute innovation in Europe, and the mayor of the French town is determined to help the governments of other cities adopt the same choice. The aim is twofold: to give citizens some relief in their pockets and to avoid roads clogged by aircraft accumulation and hazardous emissions.

Free public transportation

As of Thursday evening, December 21, trams and buses have become free for residents in the town in the south of France. A nice Christmas gift decided by the socialist mayor Michael Delafosse promised that public transportation would be free during the 2020 election campaign, but the process progressed gradually. The mayor introduced free weekend trips the same year he was first elected. During the next week, everyone under the age of 18 and those over the age of 65 were given free admission. Now comes the elimination of fees for all residents. With one exception, visitors and tourists will still need to pay a basic ticket of 1.60 euros. Of the 39 million euros worth of public transport tickets sold last year, 90 percent were still covered by city residents.

More purchasing power and fewer emissions

The aim is to encourage people to use their cars less, especially given the current price of gasoline. This is a big savings for those who decide to travel by public transport as inflation continues to rise. According to data obtained by AFP, 86 thousand people paid the season ticket fee in Montpellier. In the few days before the free pass started, this figure tripled to 260,000 subscribers. The latter is available in the form of a card or smartphone app. To finance the transition, the city government said it would contribute from a new transportation tax for companies with more than 11 employees. Delafosse argued that the initiative was part of “Europe’s commitment to climate and purchasing power”. The politician has no intention of stopping in his town. “We founded an association to help other European mayors make the same choice,” he told local media.

Other examples of eliminated tariffs

Montpellier’s choice is not unique in Europe. Tallin was the one who paved the way. Estonia’s capital has eliminated public transport fares since 2013. This idea was imitated throughout the country, with Luxembourg making transportation free in 2020. Later, Malta also followed the same line. Spain has also introduced free train travel on selected routes since last year, and the initiative has been extended until the end of this year. You pay ten euros for the ticket and this is then refunded. Sustainability is the driving force behind such choice. Mayors and governments who decide to forgo revenues from public transport know they stand to gain environmentally. The aim is to reduce the number of vehicles and reduce vehicle emissions. Given that air pollution poses the biggest risk to European public health, which is exacerbated by climate change, improving air quality, especially in city centres, is now a priority. In the European Union, 60% of transportation emissions come from vehicle use.

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Source: Today IT