There are two keys to making public transportation more widely used: make it cheaper and make it more accessible. The city of Paris hopes to do both of these things by making public transportation free for those under 18.
The free public transportation for those who live within the city comes just in time for the start of the new school year. For those who have already purchased passes, the city will reimburse the purchase within five to six weeks.
In a bid to eventually make public transportation free for all, the city’s transit authority, RATP, eliminated fees in 2018 for residents over 65 and expanded free travel to children under 11 and minors with disabilities in 2019.
These changes in the capital have influenced similar policies in surrounding areas. Last September, the larger Île-de-France region, which surrounds Paris, introduced a nearly free 24 euro annual pass for children under 11. Other French cities, like Dunkirk, have already made public transportation entirely free. The likely move to a completely free public transportation system in Paris in the near future reflects a growing movement across Europe.
Luxembourg has made public transportation free across the entire country (granted it is much smaller than most other nations) and Estonia is close to a similar feat.
Transportation ridership has fallen significantly during the pandemic, but as the pace of public life starts to pick up again, effective public transportation systems are a critical part of reducing emissions and encouraging residents to transition away from gas-powered personal vehicles.