Luxembourg becomes the first country to make public transport free

Luxembourg has reportedly become the first country in the world to completely abolish fares from all the public transport

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Trams in Luxembourg
Trams in Luxembourg

Luxembourg (Metro Rail News): Luxembourg has reportedly become the first country in the world to completely abolish fares from all the public transport including trains, trams and buses nationwide. The government has said it is tactic to handle road congestion and pollution, as well as supporting low earners

All standard-class journeys on public transport in the European country are now free of charge, compared to an annual pass worth 440 euros ($485) before. Travellers can still, however, pay for first-class, at a cost of €660 euros a year.

“For the people with low incomes or the minimum wage, for them, it’s substantial,” Said Transport Minister, Francois Bausch. “The main aim is to have a better quality of mobility, and another reason is an environmental problem.”

Luxembourg has just over 600,000 citizens, but 214,000 people reportedly travel into the country comes for work every day from Germany, Belgium and France, which often causes major congestion. As the majority of workers travel by car and more than half of Luxembourg’s greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation. 

To handle many travellers, Luxembourg plans to invest 3.9 billion euros in railways from 2018-28, upgrade the bus network and add more park-and-ride sites on the border. 

 Despite these investments, the government has stated that it expects 65 per cent of commuters to get still to work by car in 2025 (down from 73 per cent in 2017).

Luxembourg is the first country to roll out free transport, but some cities, including Estonian capital Tallinn, have also experimented with the idea. 

How Delhi can learn from Luxembourg

Luxembourg, a country double the size of Delhi, has made all forms of public transport free from March 2020.

The 2nd -smallest country in the European Union, has issued similar to NCT Delhi, India. Due to expensive housing, around 214,000 people commute every day from a neighbouring country like France, Belgium and Germany for work. Due to this, Luxembourg has the highest car density in the European Union.

In 2017, Luxembourg had 670 cars per 1,000 people, as per the European Commission statistical wing Eurostat. 

Luxembourg capital is the 53rd most congested city in the world, stated from the 2020 traffic index via navigation company TomTom. People driving in city lost 163 hours into traffic, up from 149 hours in 2018, the index added.

This initiative is “an important social measure”, pointing that improving the environment or traffic congestion which is not the main concern said François Bausch, deputy prime minister and mobility minister of Luxembourg.

“The loss of the revenue has been taken in account in the national budget and will be financed by taxes,” said Frank.

This statement is backed with steady planning and investment that has improved the overall public transport infrastructure in-country. 

In the year 2018, the govt brought in free transport for everyone who is under the age of twenty.

A bit later, it launched an elaborate sustainable mobility plan, Modu 2.0, which aims to reduce rush-hour congestion and boost the number of people using public transport by 20% from 2017 to 2025. And now it has abolished all tickets, except for first-class travel on trains.

Where Delhi falters

The government of Delhi started a similar initiative last October when it announced free rides of the bus for women. The national capital, that the TomTom survey ranks the 8th-most congested city in the world has had a mixed experience so far.

During the scheme is growing women ridership, it is financially draining the Delhi Transport Corporation. “Women constituted 30 % of the total DTC ridership at the commence of the scheme (0.5 million women commuters daily). Their share has not increased to 45% (0.8 million),” stated Ravinder S Minhas, spokesperson, DTC.

The Delhi govt pays the bus operators Rs ten for every woman rider. The amount is surprisingly the same for all AC and non-AC buses and is free of the distance travelled. The govt has plans of extending the scheme to the students and senior citizens in the future. This can backfire as the loss-making state transport corporation has a shortage of buses. DTC in Feb for the 1st time had its biggest bus fleet at 6,233. In 2001, the Supreme Court had assessed that the city needed 10,000 buses.

As per the Delhi Master Plan 2021, fleet size should be 15,000. Another problem is that 15 per cent of all bus trips in a day is cancelled because of poor maintenance, showed Central government’s Review of the Performance of State Road Transport Undertakings for April 2015-March, 2016. Meanwhile, the DMRC remains expensive for most. “Our studies have shown that given the income profile at least 34 per cent of Delhiites cannot afford the minimum bus fare concerning how much of their income they can spend on transport. 

Therefore, the public transport will have to be modernised and yet kept affordable for all,” said Anumita Roychowdhury, head of the air pollution and clean transportation programme at Delhi-based non-profit Centre for Science and Environment.

In Delhi, it is cheaper to travel by 2-wheelers than Metro rail if the distance is up to 32-km. Even cars are more economical than Metro if the range is around 7-km.

“Delhi has ambitious targets under the 2021 Master Plan. What it needs is a steady investment to overhaul the public transport system,” added Roychowdhury. And in this respect, Delhi can learn a thing or two from Luxembourg.

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