Thousands of commuters travel to Luxembourg every day. Their cars and trucks clog the roads and pollute the air. But in an effort to combat climate change, this is coming to an end. Starting March 1, 2020, Luxembourgers will be able to travel by bus, tram and train – completely free of charge.
Luxembourgers will no longer have to buy tickets when using public transport in the country, and tourists will not pay a cent either. This makes Luxembourg the first country in the world where public transport is free. Just those passengers who want to travel first class will have to pay for their journey.
The whole thing will cost 41 million euros. Furthermore, the state will invest more than 2 billion euros in rail expansion by 2023. The personnel behind the ticket counters and the ticket inspectors are to be deployed in passenger service.
Luxembourgers stood in traffic jams for 33 hours a year
Luxembourg City, the capital of the country, has suffered from traffic jams and polluted air for years. 116,000 people live there, but housing prices are rising, and Luxembourgers are being driven out to surrounding cities. Every day, 400,000 people now commute to the city to work. While Luxembourg’s population has grown by a third since 2000, commuters from abroad have more than doubled. And on their way, they are often stuck in traffic jams – according to a study, in 2016 they spent an average of 33 hours in traffic jams.
Making public transport free of charge is the first major project of Xavier Bettel’s government. He and his liberal party were re-elected in October 2018, and are governing together with the Social Democrats and the Greens.
Only electric buses in Luxembourg until 2030
In the summer of 2018, Luxembourg already made public transport free for children and adolescents under 20. Now the government is going one step further to ensure that everyone travels by bus instead of by car. For the citizens, the journey to work will be free: A huge improvement for the environment, too.
Free public transport is only one of several points on Luxembourg’s transport turnaround agenda.
Investment in public transport, park and ride & cycle path network
- By 2021, investment in public transport is expected to increase from 501 million euros to 806 million euros per year.
- A park and ride system is to intercept commuters before they reach the city border.
- Separate commuter lanes for cars with three or more passengers are planned.
- The cycle path network is to be extended to 1100 kilometres, making it twice as long as before.
- A reorganized bus network and a fast tram will connect the centers.
The aim is to reduce individual traffic. However, experts consider the measures to be insufficient: above all, more stops on the existing routes are necessary to make travelling with public transport really attractive.
If the Minister of Infrastructure, François Bausch, has his way, only electric buses will be on the road in the country from 2030. This should also reduce CO2 emissions.
“Offers with low-emission and zero-emission buses are constantly improving. The best alternative drives are offered by electric buses after all,” Bausch explained in parliament in 2018.
This article was originally written by Nikolay and appeared on Kontrast.at on June 25, 2020. You can read the full article on Kontrast.at.