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'Climate tickets' scheme, promoting public transport use, is gaining ground in Europe

After Austria and Germany, Spain is about to introduce its version of the scheme. Here's how it works

Published: Sep 2, 2022 12:02:46 PM IST
Updated: Sep 2, 2022 12:26:18 PM IST

'Climate tickets' scheme, promoting public transport use, is gaining ground in EuropeThe idea of the 'climate ticket' may be relatively recent, but the concept has already been adopted in several European countries. Image: Photography GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP

Free travel in Spain, an unlimited pass in Austria, low fares in Germany. Although precise details of these ticket schemes vary from country to country, they are all based on the same fundamental idea: encouraging people to use public transport instead of their cars. At the end of 2021, Austria attracted international interest when it announced the launch of its "Klima Ticket." For €3 a day or €24 a week, holders of this ticket are promised unlimited travel on the country's entire public transport network, including mainline trains.

Also read: Climate change: The window is closing to take action

The offer is open to all residents, who can take out an annual subscription (€1,095). The measure, which was introduced by the country's leading environmentalists, soon inspired one of the country's neighbors. At the beginning of June 2022, Germany followed Austria's lead by offering a monthly ticket for unlimited use of all transport services for the price of €9.

1.8 million tonnes of CO2 saved in Germany

Here too, the aim of this pilot scheme — which ended on Wednesday, August 31 — was to reduce the environmental impact of travel within the country. According to figures from the German public transport association VDV, reported by AFP, it is estimated to have saved 1.8 million tonnes of CO2. Several elected representatives are calling for its extension. And they may well achieve this, given the rise in fuel prices.

It is mainly to counter inflation and the impact on its citizens' purchasing power that Spain has decided to follow suit. From September 1 to December 31, 2022, the Iberian country will make some tickets free, particularly for regional lines and commuter trains. The offer should benefit 75 million travelers, according to estimates by RENFE, the Spanish national railway company. According to information from the Spanish newspaper El Pais, the savings made during this period could reach €370 per person in Madrid and €330 in Barcelona.

While the main focus is on inflation and giving citizens a helping hand to relieve their ever-stretched wallets, this initiative also supports the idea of steering users away from cars and onto trains. Local groups and municipalities believe that the measure is much more appropriate than the state subsidy of 20 cents on fuel, reads the El Pais article on the subject, and that it will encourage people to "abandon the car in favor of a sustainable environment."

Also read: 50 years in the making: Why it took US Congress so long to act on climate

Free travel in Luxembourg

But the most striking example in terms of free travel is Luxembourg. In 2020, the country became the first in the world to make its entire public transport network free of charge, with no limit on use. This offer is aimed at Luxembourg citizens, as well as workers living in border countries and foreign tourists. Financed by the taxpayer, this measure aims above all to benefit people on low incomes, while encouraging sustainable mobility.

By Léa Drouelle

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