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France follows Germany’s lead with flat-rate public transport pass

A public train
Picture: Erich Westendarp

Following the success of a similar scheme in Germany, France will soon launch a comprehensive rail pass that will cost just 49 euros a month.

Why it matters: Encouraging a shift to public transport is seen as a key tool for overcoming urban congestion, income inequality, air pollution, and climate change.

The flat-rate French ticket will include unlimited travel on regional and intercity trains, and may also include local travel by bus, metro and trams, according to a report by Railway Technology.

The precedent: In May, Germany introduced a 49-euro public transport ticket for unlimited travel on city buses, subways and trams across the nation.

According to this Bloomberg report, the number of train trips of more than 30 kilometres was up by 27.5% in June. Conversely, there were almost 100,000 fewer daily car trips on average in June, compared with the same month in 2019.

And a separate survey published in October found that around a third of subscribers to the flat-rate ticket said they were leaving their cars at home more often since signing up.

That’s consistent with an earlier study by the Technical University of Munich showing that most subscribers hadn’t reduced their car use.

Nevertheless, Dr. Allister Loder, an author of that study, said: “Initial results show that it has succeeded in raising the reputation of public transport in Germany and initiating steps towards a more sustainable mobility system.”

“Now, the public transport offering urgently needs to be further expanded across the board in order to enable even more people to actually make sensible use of the Deutschlandticket.”

According to this media report, lawmakers plan to give all students access to the ticket for just €29.40 a month.

Yes, but: The German government still needs to decide on a long-term funding plan for the flat-rate pass. 

One option being considered is an increase to the monthly subscription fee, although environmental groups say a better approach would be to fund it by reallocating state subsidies for polluting fuels and vehicles.

Tags: France, Germany, Public transport

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