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Montpellier to be first French city to make all public transport free

We look at how residents can get a free pass and which other towns offer free public transport

Buses and trams will be free to Montpellier residents from December 21, 2023 Pic: Mike_O / Shutterstock

Buses and trams in Montpellier will be completely free for residents from December 21, making it the first city in France to offer free public transport all year round. 

The city already offers free public transport on weekends as well as to residents under 18 and over 65 on weekdays.

Announcing the extension of the free transport passes, Socialist mayor of Montpellier Michaël Delafosse was jubilant:

“From 19:00 [on December 21] my 2020 campaign promise will be made a reality: public transport will be free in the city of Montpellier. It will be a big boost to both people’s purchasing power and to their concern for the climate,” he said.

“You’ll see! This movement will spread from here.”

How can Montpellier residents get a free public transport pass?

Residents will be able to claim their free transport pass either online or in at TAM Montpellier transport store by providing:

  • An identity card (or carte de séjour)
  • An id photo
  • Proof of address (eg. a utility bill)

At present, 40% of CO₂ in Montpellier comes from road traffic. 280,000 car trips are taken each day, a number which the mairie says it hopes will decrease thanks to the free pass.

Visitors to the city will still need to buy bus and tram tickets.

Which towns offer free public transport?

While Montpellier will be the first large city to make its buses and trams free to residents, the observatoire de transport en ville gratuit, which monitors free public transport says there are already 43 towns that offer it, including:

  • Dunkirk
  • Aubagne
  • Calais
  • Bourges
  • Compiègne

The largest of these towns, Dunkirk, has had free public transport since 2018.

Transport passes are very much in vogue after President Macron declared his intention to introduce a national flat-rate bus and rail pass in summer 2024.

Related articles:

Flat rate rail pass could be introduced in France next summer 

Ways to save money on train travel in France

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