Imagine boarding tro tro for free; all of us. It would be nice but it could also be a bit boring because we won’t see the fights and arguments between mates and passengers again. But that should be a small price for everybody’s comfort.
That’s exactly what’s about to happen in the small central European country Luxembourg.
This year, the government made transport for every child and young person under 20free. From 2019 or latest by 2020, it’ll be free for everyone. Tickets will not be used in the country’s public transport system again.
Currently, tickets are capped at just 2 Euros for two hours of travelling, which covers for travelling all around in the small European country.
The free transport system will be partly funded by removing tax reliefs for private commuters, to encourage people to leave their private cars and use public transport. The country grapples with what is described as one of the worst cases of traffic congestion.
But even such well-meaning policies can have all sorts of unintended consequences and there are some doubts whether free public transport and an increase in tax on private transport in Luxembourg would actually make people park their cars and use public transport, thereby reducing traffic congestion and air pollution.
Some critics also worry that the operating cost of the country’s public transport system could get very high if many people park their cars and join it or its quality could reduce with the increased pressure on it.
Another fear is that some homeless people will make the public transport system their home, especially in winter when temperatures outside drop to freezing levels. A homeless person can get inside a bus or train which is warm inside, just to avoid the harsh conditions outside but not because they’re actually travelling.
Other countries must be watching to see the positive and negative outcomes of this policy by Luxembourg and to draw lessons from it.