Categories: Impact

Cities In Germany and Estonia Are Offering Free Public Transport To Their Residents

The university city of Tübingen, in southwest Germany, is testing free public transportation for all residents. Two weeks ago, the…

2 years ago

The university city of Tübingen, in southwest Germany, is testing free public transportation for all residents. Two weeks ago, the city began a two-year pilot project using its own funds to provide free rides on Saturdays.

For seven years, local authorities have been trying to provide unlimited public transport, free at the point of access, for a flat 15-euro monthly tax for all residents, Mayor Boris Palmer explained. To do so would require a change in law.

“We already have a decent system in Tübingen, with 89,000 inhabitants and 20 million rides a year,” explained Palmer, who doesn’t own a car. “One in three people uses public transport regularly; a third sometimes; and we are looking at the third that never uses it.”

“If you ask them, they don’t know how the system works and are not prepared to pay 5 euros when they have a car in the garage and can ‘do it free.’ In attracting these people, the price barrier is very important.”

The aim in Tübingen, he says, is twofold: to lower emissions and reduce travel costs for people on low incomes. A municipal memo reportedly put the cost of zero-fee public transport for all at 14.5 million euros ($18 million).

There is a proposal to test free public transport in four other cities in Germany, which faces EU fines for breaking air pollution laws.

So, could this simple — but costly — measure work for other cities, using free buses, trams and trains to help cut private car use, reduce emissions and make cities less congested and more livable? The question takes on more urgency in Europe, where the European Commission found in November 2017 that 400,000 citizens die prematurely every year due to poor air quality.

Estonia’s capital city, Tallinn, introduced fareless public transport for residents in 2013, although people from outside the city and tourists must still pay. Allan Alaküla, head of the Tallinn EU office and official spokesman for the project, says that five years later, “no one seriously thinks it can be reversed.” There are 140 million trips a year, the vast majority by Tallinn’s 450,000 residents.

Raju Jeelaga

It was not immediately clear who was responsible, but Macron’s political movement said.It was not immediately clear who was responsible, but Macron’s political movement said.It was not immediately clear who was responsible

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