Following two successful testing periods, the city has reached a decision: Montpellier’s residents will no longer be required to pay for bus and tram travel. Starting from December 2023, public transportation will be free of charge. The city’s objective is to diminish air pollution, decrease emissions, and provide assistance to marginalized communities. This initiative is included in a comprehensive 150 million euro plan, which also encompasses the development of additional bicycle lanes.
The city government of Montpellier has decided to provide free public transportation for all residents. Starting on December 21, 2023, the city’s 300,000 inhabitants will no longer be required to pay fares for buses and trams. This initiative aims to not only decrease air pollution but also improve accessibility for individuals facing social disadvantages.
The measure is part of a 150 million euro package to make the city sustainable and emission-free. In addition to free public transport, Montpellier plans to introduce environmental zones and expand bicycle lanes.
Residents can register with the “M’Ticket” app to receive the free tickets. To do so, they need a valid ID card and a registration address.
“I cannot reword”
Par la gratuité des transports, nous faisons preuve d’audace en prenant une grande mesure de justice sociale, de progrès qui œuvre pour la transition écologique
Starting from December 21st, public transportation will be free for all residents of the Métropole throughout the entire week.
— Michaël Delafosse (@MDelafosse) February 2, 2023
Two successful trial phases: 160,000 people use free tickets
Montpellier has been testing free public transport since 2020. The measure now adopted is the result of two successful trial phases:
- Phase: free tickets for residents on weekends (from September 2020).
- Phase: Free tickets for young people under 18 and seniors from 65 (from September 2021).
During the initial stage, there was a notable increase of 12 percent in the number of residents utilizing public transportation on weekends. The subsequent phase also achieved positive outcomes, with 160,000 residents making use of the provided offer. Furthermore, even after the conclusion of the initiative, 60 percent of individuals continued to utilize public transportation.
Previously, the city supported motorists with free parking hours. The current government abolished this rule and financed the first trial phase with the 1.3 million euros released.
France: Public transport is already free in 39 cities and towns
Montpellier is not the only French city where residents do not have to pay anything for public transport. Since France handed over traffic management to municipal authorities in 2015, the concept has spread to 39 cities and towns. Among them is the port city of Calais, the Marseille suburb of Aubange and the municipality of Niort.
Depending on the municipality or city, the measure is financed differently: in Dunkirk, for example, via the mobility tax. In France, private and public companies with more than 10 employees must pay this tax. With 200,000 inhabitants, Dunkirk is the second-largest city in France with free local transport after Montpellier.
Paris, Lyon and Marseille: only partially free local public transport
France’s major metropolises (Lyon, Paris, Marseille) are still hesitant to implement free public transportation. This is because they rely on ticket sales to finance their public transport. The share of total costs there is 25-40 percentIn contrast, the percentage is only 10 percent in smaller cities.
France’s major cities have initiatives to alleviate the financial strain on individuals with low incomes, young individuals, and retirees.ParisIn cities like Strasbourg and Lille, young individuals below 18 years old can avail public transportation without any cost. Similarly, in Nantes and Rouen, passengers have the opportunity to travel on trams, bus lines, and subways for free during weekends.