top cx logo
cx logo
Explorearrow down
search icon
arrow down

Dunkirk is Europe’s first big city to offer free buses

Dunkirk (Nord, ‎Hauts-de-France) has become the first European city with over 200,000 inhabitants to offer free bus transport for all, seven days a week.

After having been successfully trialled at the weekends for three years, the scheme has now been rolled out permanently.

It applies to all buses in the city’s public transport network, across Dunkirk’s 17 communes.

The city hopes to double passenger numbers from 5% of residents who regularly take the bus, to 10%, in the coming months.

Free transport is already available in several towns across France, including Compiègne, Châteauroux, and Niort, but this is the first time in Europe that a city of over 200,000 inhabitants has offered it.

Previously, one bus journey cost €1.40, with passenger tickets making up 10% of the transport system’s total budget - €4.5m of a total cost of €10m per year.

This will now be covered by the government, and a new 1.55% local business tax.

Bus company DK’Bus has had to make several preparations to roll out the scheme, including recruiting and training 42 new bus drivers, and acquiring 45 new Wi-Fi-connected buses powered by natural gas.

The number of bus lines has increased from 10 to 17, and the aim is to offer one bus every 10 minutes on each line, between the hours of 7h and 19h.

The company has also installed more bus lanes, priority areas, bus stopping zones, and timed red lights.

Authorities also say that the buses will be safer for drivers, as they have no cash tills on board. Already, figures suggest that aggression towards drivers has dropped 60% since the scheme’s introduction.

The move was an election promise of Dunkirk mayor Patrice Vergriete, who was elected in 2014.

He has hailed the move as a success for residents, as well as for the environment, as it is now hoped that more people will leave their cars at home, and take the bus.

Mr Vergriete said: “There are three main reasons for the free scheme. The first, is that it gives back buying power to Dunkirk residents. The second, is to make Dunkirk residents more mobile, to fight social exclusion. The third reason is environmental, as two thirds of journeys are done by car.

“The idea is therefore to balance the forms of transport.”

Stay informed:
Sign up to our free weekly e-newsletter
Subscribe to access all our online articles and receive our printed monthly newspaper The Connexion at your home. News analysis, features and practical help for English-speakers in France

Resident or second-home owner in France?
Benefit from our daily digest of headlines and how-to's to help you make the most of life in France
By joining the newsletter, you agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy
See more popular articles
The Connexion Help Guides
featured helpguide
Healthcare in France*
Featured Help Guide
- Understand the French healthcare system, how you access it and how you are reimbursed - Useful if you are new to the French healthcare system or want a more in-depth understanding - Reader question and answer section Aimed at non-French nationals living here, the guide gives an overview of what you are (and are not) covered for. There is also information for second-home owners and regular visitors.
Get news, views and information from France
You have 2 free subscriber articles left
Subscribe now to read unlimited articles and exclusive content
Already a subscriber? Log in now