Debate rages over free public transport in Prague

“We want free public transport in Prague,” proclaims the opposition. “It’s just a pre-election gesture,” responds the city’s management.

ANO party chairman Ondřej Prokop presented a controversial proposal for free public transport in Prague until the end of 2022.

Prokop argued that public transport in Prague is still not full after the coronavirus outbreak and many cars are running empty or half-empty, and Prague residents need to be positively motivated to use public transport.

The second argument is Prokop’s assertion that the people of Prague are facing an energy and inflationary crisis.

“As the economic situation is deteriorating significantly, many Praguers are sinking into poverty and public transport is still not full, we will offer completely free public transport until the end of 2022,” Prokop wrote in a report to journalists.

“Of course, we understand the difficult situation of citizens in these times, but this must be solved by targeted help and not by unnecessary budgeting. At the same time, it is important to maintain the quality of Prague’s public transport. frequent connections, the construction of new tram lines, metro lines, the electrification of bus lines, the purchase of new modern vehicles and we can only achieve this through tariffs,” said Adam Scheinherr, Deputy mayor of Prague in charge of transport.

Another representative of the ANO movement, Patrik Nacher, also commented on Prokop’s proposal. “This kind of quite extraordinary and time-limited measure has a motivating effect, sends positive signals and also has an anti-inflationary effect.”

European cities with free transport

Following a referendum in 2013, the residents of Tallinn (capital of Estonia) voted overwhelmingly in favor of free public transport. The problem of Tallinn can be compared to the problem of the city of Luxembourg: thousands of commuters go to the city center every day.

Additionally, many low-income people struggled to pay. The system has worked without any major problems for almost a decade now, although analysts say it has not led to a reduction in the number of passenger cars on the streets.

In the French town of Dunkirk, measures to provide free buses and trains have, however, led to a drop in traffic. Since 2018, residents can travel for free on public transport.

In prison (also in France) pioneered the establishment of the world’s first free tram network, and public transport has been free since 2009. Initially seen as a simple test, the initiative has proven to be a resounding success. After three years, there were 5,000 fewer cars circulating in the city each day, a decrease of 10%. The popularity of public transport has also increased by 235%.

Cascais is, to date, the only municipality in Portugal to have opted for free public transport.

Anyone who has heard of Livigno is probably also an avid skier. This village in the Italian Alps offers free public transport from 7:30 am until 8:00 pm. The city is very clear for its visitors: no one needs a car to discover it and it seems like a good way to stand out among winter destinations.

Since January 1, 2018, public transport in the city center of Czech Strakonice (South Bohemia) was also completely free.

Since 2011, people can use public transport for free in Frýdek-Mistek, a city in the east of the Czech Republic. The number of passengers increased by 40% in the first two years.

The regional expansion aspect of zero-tariff services has also been introduced in parts of the Lower Silesian region Poland. Free transport exists in Polkowice, an industrial town of 22,000 inhabitants, and in certain settlements in its canton, in Lubin and in its entire canton and in certain settlements in the canton of Legnica, an industrial town of 100,000 inhabitants.

Berta D. Wells