If the bus was free, would you take it more often? That’s the question at the heart of the discussion around fare-free public transport.
Příbram (Central Bohemia) is considering making public transport free, to solve the problem with parking in the center.
“We are now very strongly considering this option. We want to have a debate on this topic not only in the council, but also with transport experts, citizens, and representatives of the non-profit sector,” says Deputy Mayor Martin Buršík.
“We have been working for a long time to improve parking in the city. In recent years, several hundred new parking spaces have been created in Příbram, and other car parks are planned. In the city center, however, there are not many opportunities to expand parking,” added Buršík.
“We have modern buses, one of the densest public transport networks compared to similar cities in the Czech Republic, and fares that are definitely at an acceptable price. Nevertheless, the center is still full of cars.”
Opponents of free fare transport policy frequently point to its high financial costs which, in their view, outweighs its impact.
According to preliminary calculations, free public transport shouldn’t affect significantly the city’s budget. “It will cost us less than CZK 1 million a month. The total cost of public transport in Příbram is about CZK 45 million per year.”
From a purely economic point of view, there is another fact: Prague and the Central Bohemia region are coming closer to having a single mass transit system.
The merger of bus transport, which makes it easier to travel on a single ticket, should continue in the direction of Zásmuky and Uhlířské Janovice, including a connection with Sázava. The connection between Prague and Beroun, Hořovice, Zdice, and via Hořovice to Příbram should also be resolved.
Prague and the Central Bohemia region both hope to reduce commuter traffic by making public transportation including regional trains easier to use.
Tallin, the first one
In 2018, the city of Dunkirk, France, made buses free and accessible to all passengers, even visitors. With a population of roughly 200,000, Dunkirk is the largest city in Europe to offer free public transit.
Dunkirk’s system was inspired by Tallinn, Estonia, the first European capital to provide fare-free service on buses, trams, and trolleys to registered residents. Locals pay €2 for a “green card” that gives them unlimited free trips. The program started in 2013 and, as of 2016, Tallinn claimed it was turning a €20 million-a-year profit.
In March 2020, Luxembourg just became the first country in the world to make its entire public transit system free to all.
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From Monday, May 11, Prague’s Public Transport will strengthen bus connections limited from March due to the coronavirus epidemic.
Buses will run according to the so-called half-holiday timetables, which are common in January and February. The DPP is now strengthening its operations “following the relaxation of emergency measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic and the gradual increase in the number of passengers,” stated DPP on their website.
Furthermore, buses will no longer stop automatically at all stops, so passengers need to press the button.
However, boarding restrictions on trams and buses do not change. It will be possible to get on only through the middle and rear doors.
The cable car to Petřín will reopen on 11 May, but with some restrictions. It will carry a maximum of 30 passengers in one cabin and will not stop at Nebozízek.
Passengers need to wear face masks and keep a safe distance of two meters while waiting.
From May 25, DPP expects to return to its original timetables on suburban bus lines. On June 1, seasonal trains from Prague to Central Bohemia should also restart.
According to Prague’s Public Transport, the renewal of trains and buses to Central Bohemia Region must be approved by the Central Bohemian Crisis Staff.
dir=”ltr”>AUTOBUSY PODLE POLOPRÁZDNINOVÝCH JÍZDNÍCH ŘÁDŮ A NÁVRAT ZASTÁVEK NA ZNAMENÍ I Od 11. 5. pojedou autobusy na městských linkách v Praze opět podle tzv. poloprázdninových jízdních řádů. Zastávky na znamení u autobusů i tramvají vracíme do běžného režimu.
— Dopravní podnik hl. m. Prahy, akciová společnost (@DPPOficialni) May 10, 2020