Beginning in March of next year all public transportation in Luxembourg will be free to residents and visitors alike. No more tickets to ride the buses, trams, and trains within the borders of the country. The government hopes to ease some of the traffic congestion and the resulting pollution that results when 60 percent of the workers who commute use their cars. Later this summer the French parliament will take up the same issue for this country and in preparation, some members of the Senate have begun gathering opinions from the public. We only found out yesterday that you have just until the end of this month to answer an online survey (link below) regarding the possibility of free transports en commun here as well.
About 30 communities in France already have free public transit, the largest city being Dunkerque with a population of 89,000. They found that ridership went up between 50 percent and 85 percent on many of their routes once the need for tickets was eliminated. All disputes with drivers over non-payment of fares disappeared as well.
Buses in Carcassonne aren’t free but at 1 euro per ride (only 80 centimes if you buy a carnet of 10 tickets online) it doesn’t put a big dent in our budget to ride anywhere in town or into the surrounding area that we want to go. With that same fare of 1 euro we can usually find tickets on the trains throughout our region of Occitanie, about the size of Ireland, that stretches from the Mediterranean Sea, along the border with Spain westward to less than 100 km (60 miles) from the Atlantic Ocean.
But “free” isn’t always free and comparing Luxembourg with France might be apples to oranges. Luxembourg is about the size of Rhode Island and commuters already pay only 2 euros for any trip of 2 hours or less, which covers just about every destination in the country. For us to get to Paris, the fastest journey time is 5 ½ hours and that’s traveling most of the trip on a TGV with a cruising speed of 300 kmh (186 mph) at 49 euros each. The public transportation fares they collect in our neighbor to the north currently cover about 10 percent of the cost of operating all of their buses, trams, and trains. Still for France, where the sale of gasoline and diesel cars is banned from 2040 (from 2030 in Paris) something has to be done.
If you do want to take the survey, the link is below. Watch out for what we think is the “red herring” question asking if you believe that free transit is more important than other public services “like access to water”. The deadline is May 31, 2019.
Link to the survey: https://senat.limequery.org/547944?lang=fr