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Environment

Luxembourg Just Made Public Transportation Free

Why Global Citizens Should Care
Free public transportation is intended to reduce car use, which is a major driver of climate change, and also address income inequality. This aligns with the United Nations's Global Goals, which include adressing climate action and reducing inequality. You can join us in taking action on this and related issues here.

Luxembourg has become the first country in the world to make public transportation free.

The European country made the move to reduce car traffic, as cars account for nearly half of travel for work, and 71% of travel for leisure, the Guardian reported. Luxembourg has more cars per 1,000 people than any other country in the European Union, according to the BBC.

Public transport in Luxembourg will now be paid for primarily through taxes, according to EcoWatch. This should result in travel savings for Luxembourg's citizens, particularly low earners, the country’s transport minister, Francois Bausch, told EcoWatch.

“The introduction of free public transport is an important social measure,” Bausch said, according to Euronews.

Luxembourg is a small country, with a population of only about 620,000. Geographically, it is about the size of Rhode Island, according to CNN.

A number of cities have made moves to make public transportation free in recent years.

In 2013, the city of Tallinn, Estonia became the first capital city in Europe to provide free buses, according to the Guardian, and the city of Dunkirk, in France, has also made public transportation free.

In the United States, lawmakers in Kansas City, Missouri, voted to make buses free starting this year.

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Reducing car use is an important public policy challenge. Globally, transportation is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions, which makes finding ways to reduce car use essential for fighting climate change.

Free public transportation will especially benefit working-class people.

Still, early research on free public transport is mixed. The cities of Austin, Texas, and Denver, Colorado have experimented with making public transportation free, according to the New York Times.

These efforts did not remove many cars from the roads, but they did increase ridership, as the free transit was used primarily by residents unlikely to own cars. In Dunkirk, the city’s mayor told the Guardian that ridership increased dramatically after buses were made free.

In the case of Kansas City, most bus routes do not run very frequently, limiting the potential benefits of free buses in the first place, as Streetsblog reported.