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Online poll opens on free public transport in France

An online consultation on the idea of free public transport in France has been opened by the Senate, with the public invited to have their say on the idea before May 31.

The question centres on whether offering free public transport for all is a “false good idea” with more negative consequences than good; or is instead a revolutionary, eco-friendly and socially-responsible practice.

The online questionnaire is anonymous, and offers a series of questions with multiple-choice answers (in French).

Question examples include: “Are you in favour of totally free public transport?”, “Would you use public transport more if it was free?”, “Do you believe that free public transport is more or less justified than that of other public services, such as water access?”, and “Do you believe that a payment, even if only symbolic, is important?”.

It also offers respondents the chance to suggest alternatives, such as a transport network that was not free, but offered improved services, such as more lines, more buses, or newer trains.

The Senate project on the issue is expected to finish in July, just as Parliament is set to study a new legal bill on the subject of public transport.

Around 30 cities and towns in France already provide free - or almost free - public transport for all.

They include Dunkirk (Nord), Niort (Deux-Sèvres), Castres (Tarn), Libourne (Gironde), Vitré (Ille-et-Vilaine), Aubagne (Bouches-du-Rhône), Châteauroux (Indre), Compiègne, and Noyon (Oise).

Often, these towns “decided to offer free public transport at a time when their network only included a few buses, or when the network was only covering the town centre”, according to the 2018 transport study l’Observatoire de la Mobilité 2018, from public transport group l’Union des Transports Publics et Ferroviaires (UTP).

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