In an eco-friendly move aimed at reducing traffic congestion, Luxembourg has announced plans to become the world's first country to make its public transportation free for everyone.
According to The Independent, a new coalition government will be taking office in the Grand Duchy, and it has promised to abolish tickets and fares on trains, trams and buses next summer. At present, fares are still quite reasonable, costing no more than €2 for up to two hours of travel, which, given the size of the micro-nation, covers almost any journey. Anyone who wants to avail of first-class rail travel pays €3. An all-day second-class ticket on every form of public transport costs €4.
Young people travel free, and many commuters choose to purchase for an annual “mPass” which costs €150 for all public transport. Luxembourg’s transport system reportedly costs close to €1 billion (roughly Rs 8000 crore) per year to operate. But, in part due to the nominal rates and frequent promotional offers, fares amount to only €30m annually.
So, from summer 2019 onwards, tickets are set to be abolished. Part of the subsequent cost will be covered by removing a tax break for commuters. According to reports, the move will save on the collection and processing of fares and may also lead a shift away from private vehicles; traffic congestion, especially around Luxembourg City, is a major issue for the tiny nation.
It was one of the first measures to come out of the new coalition government led by the Democratic Party's Xavier Bettel, who was sworn in for his second term as prime minister this week.
Luxembourg is a landlocked country, bordered by Belgium, France and Germany. Though its official population count is around 600,000, the population swells every day with 200,000 people crossing the border from neighboring countries to commute to work.
Likewise, Luxembourg City is home to 110,000, but an estimated 400,000 people commute into the capital every day for work, The Guardian points out. The scrapping of the €2 public transportation fees also eliminates the two hour-travel limit.
(With agency inputs)