The southern French city of Montpellier is set to follow in the footsteps of Dunkirk, Luxembourg and Tallinn by making its public transport free to use. The scheme will begin on 23 December this year, and local residents will be able to use a pass to travel for free on the city’s buses and trams in a bid to reduce pollution and improve accessibility.
“By introducing free transport, we are bold in taking a great measure of social justice, of progress, which works for the ecological transition,” tweeted Montpellier mayor Michaël Delafosse. The city has been experimenting with free transport on weekends since September 2020, and extended this to weekdays for under 18s and over-65s in 2021. The further extension of the scheme is part of the city’s €150 million drive towards zero carbon mobility, and is being accompanied by investment in cycle lanes and the creation of a low emissions zone.
Montpellier will be the largest French city to introduce free transport across its network. Until now, Dunkirk has been the largest city to have introduced free travel, making its bus routes free in 2018; the city reported an increase in passenger numbers of around 85% as a result. A total of 39 localities in France have similar schemes, including the Marseille suburb of Aubagne, Calais and the western commune of Niort.