LUXEMBOURG CITY: Luxembourg has become the first country in the world to offer free public transport, as the small and wealthy European country tries to help workers and reduce road traffic.
Some cities have already taken similar but partial measures. The transport ministry said it was the first time such a decision covered an entire country, termed as “an important social measure”.
The free transport affects approximately forty percent of households and is estimated to save each one around 100 euros per year. Transport workers were concerned about the impact the measure would have on their job security.
The measure is part of a plan intended to reduce congestion. Private cars are the most used means of transport, accounting for 47 percent of business travel and 71 percent of leisure transport.
More than 200,000 people living in neighbouring France, Germany and Belgium and work in Luxembourg. They mostly drive in causing major traffic jams at peak hours. The population of the tiny country is just 610,000 and those cross-border workers account for half the total employees.
The capital city of Luxembourg has invested in its public transport network, notably by building a tram network. Commuters complain it is still patchy and it will take years before the network links to the northern airport.
Transport minister Francois Bausch admitted and said that systematic and continuous investment is an essential condition for promoting the attractiveness of public transport
Sales of tickets on the domestic network, which cost two euros per journey, covered just eight percent of the 500-million-euro cost of running the transport system. The shortfall will now be met from the treasury.
Ticket machines will be gradually removed from stations, but offices selling tickets for international train trips and for first-class seating in Luxembourg will remain and continues to be a paying service.
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