Luxembourg Is the First Country to Make Public Transport Free, and It Seems Like a Real Solution
Luxembourg has become the first country in the world to offer a free public transportation system. Starting on March 1, 2020, no one will have to pay for any ride, and this also includes tourists. Previously, only the cities of Tallinn and Dunkirk have done similar things, which worked out pretty well.
We at Bright Side are very inspired by this idea, and decided to tell you the story behind this world-altering project.
A tiny country with a lot of traffic
Luxembourg has a population of only 614,000, as one of Europe’s smallest countries. But about 200,000 workers — which is half of Luxembourg’s workforce — come every day from Belgium, France, and Germany, attracted by high salaries and a wealthy economy.
Luxembourg, the capital city with the same name as the country, suffers from some of the worst traffic problems in the world. Only 110,000 people live in the city, but more than 400,000 commute to work every day. A study suggested that drivers in the capital spent an average of 33 hours in traffic jams yearly.
Moreover, diesel and petrol costs are very cheap in this small country. This is the reason why so many people from neighboring countries not only drive to work, but they also fill their cars up there. By making public transportation free, the government intends to get cars off the road — because Luxembourg has more cars per 1,000 people than anywhere else in the EU.
Improving the infrastructure
One of the main goals of making public transportation free is to improve the existing transportation system, because it is pretty old-fashioned and known for its terrible delays. The government plans to invest around €4 billion, before 2027, in this sector.
It will also help to cope with an already huge increase in passengers, which is estimated to rise by 20% in the next 5 years. Currently, there are trains, buses, and trams operating in Luxembourg.
Saving the environment
Another big issue this law aims to address — is to alert Luxembourgers to their country’s environmental problems. The growth of both the resident population and cross-border workers has led to an increase in built-up areas (like housing, offices, services, and infrastructures) and to growing transportation flows, as the European Environment Agency reports.
Unfortunately, all of these developments are having very negative impacts on biodiversity and on water quality in the country. Moreover, they raise the energy demand, which is a big environmental problem too. The government believes that free public transportation will partially solve this issue.
Who will pay for it?
The public transportation system in Luxembourg covers the whole country and costs €508 million per year to run. In the past, only €41 million were generated in ticket sales, and now this part will be covered by the taxpayers.
Before February 29, a fare coasted €2, and €4 for a day pass. Many workers and students have their annual travel pass subsidized, so not many people spend much on transportation anyway. And now, as the government says, transportation staff will not lose their jobs, and they will not spend extra time checking tickets.
What do you think about this idea? Would free public transportation encourage you to spend less time driving? Share your answers with us!