Luxembourg’s free public transport
Would not it be quite exciting if all public transport fares in Japan were made free? As long as there are rail tracks, we can go anytime and anywhere we want to go.
Although there may be various answers depending on your current income and living environment, Luxembourg has begun free public transport. Luxembourg is a member country of the EU, called the Benelux along with Belgium and the Netherlands, and is known as a wealthy country with a population of about 600,000, a thriving financial industry, and high GDP per capita.
From March 1, 2020, three means of transportation including all trains, trams (streetcars), and buses in the country has become free of charge. Although free services for specific public transports have already been introduced in other countries, it is said that Luxembourg is the first country to make the whole country’s public transportation fare free. The cost of this service is covered by taxes.
According to the official website of the project, the purpose of the initiative is to stop the widening gap between rich and poor. For low-paid workers who do not use cars, reducing travel costs is a huge benefit, and It has been estimated that approximately 40% of households in the country will save around €100 (about 12,000 yen) per year per household.
On the other hand, some critics insist that the initiative is not as effective for the following reasons: (1) Originally, transportation fares in Luxembourg had been relatively low; (2) Many users, including young people under the age of 20, students under the age of 30, and low income households receiving monthly basic allowance, had already used with free of charge.
Regardless of its effect on closing the gap, this initiative has also served as a measure to alleviate traffic congestion in urban areas. Every day, Luxembourg has over 200,000 commuters from Belgium, France and Germany, of which less than 20% use public transport. Since 60% of them use cars, traffic congestion is treated as a problem. It is expected that more people will come to the country by public transport because free public transport service is also applied to those who commute to Luxembourg from other countries. The government also plans to improve connections between trains, trams, and buses to increase the number of people using public transport by more than 20% by 2025.
In Europe, more and more municipalities are introducing the same service, and in Dunkirk, France, the introduction of free buses have rapidly increased the number of passengers by 60% on weekdays. In SDG Goal 11: “Sustainable cities and communities,” expansion of public transportation is set as a goal. Although some may think it is unfeasible that you get a free of charge for using transport services, if free public transport is realized, it may become a global trend.