In response to soaring oil costs following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, New Zealand is to halve public transport fares for three months.
The prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, said: “In the long term we need to build greater resilience into our transport system so we are less vulnerable to spikes in the price of petrol, but for now halving the cost public transport will provide some families with an alternative to filling up the tank.”
There’s nothing new about a country dramatically reducing the cost of public transport in a bid to reduce dependency on cars.
The French channel port of Dunkirk introduced free public transport for all. With its metropolitan population of 200,000, it became the largest city in Europe to offer free public transport via its fleet of hop-on-hop-off buses.
Fare-free public transport
There are currently over 50 fare-free public transport networks in Europe.
As well as the environmental advantages of reducing motorised traffic, proponents of fare-free transport highlight the social benefits. For example, in Britain we have a habit of portraying bus travel as a ‘safety net’ for the young, old and poor – making it free dramatically increases usage, serves as a leveller and is an egalitarian redistribution of wealth.
Elsewhere, cities unable to go completely fare free but wishing to tackle congestion, road danger and pollution are slashing fares.
The cost of an annual travel pass in Vienna was reduced to 365 euros – the equivalent of 90 pence per day. More folk in Vienna now have a 365-Euro ticket than a car, but the scheme could not have been successful without serious investment; the city invests 400 million euros every year in the network. The cheap travel tickets go hand-in-hand with stiff penalties for fare evaders – the penalty is over 100 euros. The one-Euro-per-day policy more than doubled the numbers using public transport prompting cities in Germany to follow suit.
The ethical choice
The ETA was established in 1990 as an ethical provider of green, reliable travel services. Over 30 years on, we continue to offer cycle insurance , breakdown cover and mobility scooter insurance while putting concern for the environment at the heart of all we do.
The Good Shopping Guide judges us to be the UK’s most ethical provider.