More French Cities Offer Costless Commute

Transportation

Short on pocket change? Numerous French cities now provide free rides on their public transport services in the hope of combatting urban congestion and pollution.

Dunkirk, a seaside town in north of France, declared months ago that they would make all its busses complimentary by next September. When the plan goes into effect, it will make the northern town, which houses 90,000 residents and connects to a population of 200,000, the biggest French town to supply free transportation.

"We wanted a transport revolution," said Patrick Vergriete, Dunkirk's mayor. He mentioned that the new service supports equal opportunity, as it will help many gain passage to jobs. The measure will also aid in reducing pollution levels.

The free transportation movement in France actually began in 1975; the small town of Compiègne started the revolution decades ago. Since then, 15 French towns have followed suit. This summer, Niort became the most recent to sign up.

Benefits of the system could include increasing financial growth and offering a realistic answer to transportation in the carless French cities to come. According to a statement made last month by the French government, selling of diesel and petrol vehicles will be forbidden by 2030 in Paris and 2040 in greater France.

Towns have reported some noticable perks to offering costless transport. Dunkirk began providing free rides on weekends in 2015, and research suggested that the number of transportation users rose by 5,000 per day, helping youth, elderly, and families in particular. Vergriete also claimed that anti-social behavior dropped by 60% following the change.

Compiègne has also experienced positive developments. Mayor Nicolas Leday disclosed, "It's provided a real social and economic boost for businesses and for households."

Businesses, in particular, have boosted the system's effects. Complimentary transportation cost Compiègne €5.7 million per year, so the town taxes all businesses with over 11 workers to make up the difference. Since firms' employees are aided by the service, most companies accept it readily.

However, not every city has been a success story. The Belgian city of Hasslet had to reinstate transport fares after sixteen years because they were not able to financially support the free transport costs.

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