Luxembourg’s public transport to become free
Yesterday, the Luxembourg government announced that the country’s public transport will become completely free. The country took example on Switzerland and Estonia even though the latter’s model hasn’t shown any real change in citizen’s behaviour.
Each one after the other, every one of the three parties’ representatives has confirmed that public transport will become completely free in Luxembourg. The forty million euro necessary to assist lower class households in their travels will be financed by the reduction of the kilometre incentive. Luxembourg follows the path of Estonia and Switzerland, but one is more effective than the other.
Failing Estonian system
Since 2013, all public transport is free in the Estonian capital of Tallinn. Authorities have chosen to pass on the 12 million euro profit they generated to concentrate on helping their citizens, which they promised to do ever since 2005. Every resident can, with his ID and two euros, get a Green Card that allows him or her to move for free in the capital.
Yet, the system hasn’t been as successful as hoped. The increase in travels in the first year was majorly due to pedestrians switching to public transport. Worse, in five years, the number of cars has even grown by 44%. In Tallin, they produce 60% of the CO2 emissions compared to 6% for public transport. “The number of trips has only increased by 4 to 5% per year” notes the European Affairs delegate from Tallinn.
Successful Swiss model
This summer, Estonia decided to expand the free public transport to the whole country. The country’s Reform Party berates the system judging that it doesn’t have any positive impact on the climate. The Party promises to stop the measure if it wins the 2019 legislative. In Switzerland, on the other hand, free public transport is a hit. The country is the EU champion with a yearly travel number of 2.439 kilometres per citizen, compared to 1.391 for Austria and 1.373 for France.
Between 2000 and 2016, the Swiss train, tram and bus attendance has increased by more than 30%. The country’s public transport has a higher frequency, is quicker, more direct and more passenger friendly than in other EU countries. In 2016, 52% of home to work commuters used their cars, while 31% of them used public transport.
250 transport companies
Switzerland hasn’t made its public transport free overnight. In 1981, the country divided the yearly subscription price by two and in 87 it went from 360 to 100 francs. Today, 250 transport companies are all regrouped under one free public transport pass that is valid on the whole 24.000 km of Swiss lines.