Across Europe, an increasing number of countries are investing in more equitable access to transport for environmental reasons as well as to ease the burden of inflation on populations.
“When you remove fares that says to people that you’ve got a right to get around regardless of your means, it’s a public good,” explains Jenny McArthur, urban infrastructure researcher at University College London.
Luxembourg and Estonia abolished fares for public transport some years back to encourage their citizens to ditch their cars. Targeted discounts – an alternative to free fares – also already exist in many countries. In Austria, the 3-euro-a-day Klimaticket was introduced last year. In Italy, lower-income workers benefit from a 60-euro, one-off public transport voucher. In Germany, it comes in the form of a 9-euro-a-month travel pass. The latest country to get onboard is Spain – with free train travel on selected routes for a few months.
As road transport accounts for a tenth of global dioxide emissions, facilitating access to public transport helps remove cars on the road and contributes to improving local air quality. Free public transport is among the likes of public health, libraries, and schools which some citizens use more than others but that everyone pays into.