It seems more than hard to imagine but, if you’ve been living in the tiny EU state of Luxembourg you will already have had access to free public transport for the last three years.
Unsurprisingly on the anniversary of this novel and seemingly very expensive public initiative, almost everyone who uses trams, buses and trains in the tiny EU state says they’re happy with it.
“Since it’s free, it’s easier to make a decision quickly, to choose between public transport or a private car. This means that it is very positive for the environment and practical,” one man said whilst using the tram in Luxembourg City.
Being both rich and being a small population helps of course. There are only around 640,000 citizens and each one, in terms of GDP per capita, is worth about €99,900 per year according to the World Bank’s latest data from 2021. Compare that with each citizen in neighbouring France averaging a mere €35,200 a year.
As you might have guessed, free transport does come at a price; taxpayers’ money ultimately funds it – but that makes it more equitable, the Minister of Mobility and Public Works explains.
There is greater equity in this because obviously, those who pay little tax pay nothing or very little in this system, it’s really free. And those who pay more tax, obviously, they have a price that is perhaps a little higher,” François Bausch said.
Luxembourg is also promoting it as a way of combating pollution and climate change by luring people away from their vehicles and into trains and buses.
But for now, cars are still king, although some Luxembourgers already consider free transport as a right rather than a generous gift of the government.
“This allows all border residents, especially those from Belgium, Germany and France, to travel easily. And in addition, it is a good form of freedom. We don’t have this in France. There are fewer controllers, there is less hassle,” another happy tram user said.