Brussels offers residents 900 euros to ditch the car

Brussels has doubled the amount of money it pays residents who give up their car.

The Bruxell’air scheme launched in 2006 and until recently paid drivers €500 to give up their car. This cash incentive has now doubled to €900 (£762).

The financial incentive aims to encourage motorists in Brussels to give up their cars in favour of modes of travel more respectful to the environment: namely public transport, cycling, walking and car sharing.

The total amount of incentive offered is based on a number of factors including earnings and can be spent on buying a bicycle, paying for public transport or joining a car-sharing service.

The scheme is likely to be especially popular in the current financial climate – it’s one of a number of initiatives being implemented around the world to tackle car dependency.

For example, in response to soaring oil costs following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, New Zealand is halving 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.”

Elsewhere, 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.


  1. Anne Damerell


    In Basle we found free public transport: trams in this case. Everyone used them, the network was extensive, there were almost no cars around, no congestion, so the trams were never delayed. If the timetable said tram no 50 would take you to the station in 8 minutes, then it did. Bliss!

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