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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Prague Public Transit Company (DPP) will install air conditioning to all the trams Škoda 15T ForCity.
The air conditioning in the Škoda 15T ForCity will work in an almost automatic mode due to the manufacturer’s settings. The driver can only increase or decrease the passenger compartment temperature. Tram windows can be opened, but this will affect efficiency.
The total cost will exceed 400 million crowns.
In 2011, during the administration of then-mayor Tomáš Hudeček (TOP 09), the DPP started negotiations regarding the installation of air conditioning in the passenger compartment.
The tram, which is 31.4 m long and almost 2.5 m wide, has the capacity of 180 passengers – of which 61 are seated. Thanks to its ability to ride in arcs smoothly, the tram cuts travel time and speeds up traffic. This is also helped by six wide double-leaf doors which enable passengers to get on and off very quickly.
They are also 100% low-floor, offering problem-free transport for passengers with reduced mobility. This is in line with Prague’s strategic priority to ensure barrier-free access throughout the city’s public transport network by 2025.
At the moment, DPP is gradually launching the EMA system, which shall automatically, without the driver’s intervention, control selected functions of the vehicle, such as e.g. stops announcements, wheel and rail lubrication, reduction of speed to the prescribed value when riding in arcs or over crossings, display of the tram’s position at the underlying maps on an internal monitor for passengers, etc.
The very first tram line in Prague dates back to 1875 when a Belgian businessman built tracks for a horse-drawn tram. The line went from today’s Náměstí Republiky to the National Theatre. Horse-drawn trams were operating until 1925 when they were completely replaced by electric trams.