Singapore’s public transport is considered world class compared to other nations.
But a small European country named Luxembourg – sandwiched by Belgium, France & Germany – has far larger plans to revolutionise their public transport system.
The picturesque city plans to be the first in the world to make public transport free for all citizens by 2020. Now we’re wondering if a similar system can be put in place in Singapore one day.
What began as free transport for children and youth below the age of 20, may now be extended to every Luxembourg citizen, regardless of age.
Regular commuters now pay €2 (S$3.11) for 2 hours worth of travel, which covers almost all journeys within the tiny nation.
But once 2020 rolls around, all tickets “will be abolished”.
Question is, why would a developed country suddenly hope to segue into free train, tram and bus fares?
Newly sworn in Prime Minister Xavier Bettel promised his electorate that he would do so.
Now that his re-elected “coalition government” has scored a narrow win against their opponents, he intends to deliver on his promises.
The official reason, of course, is to mitigate traffic conditions by saving time on ticket regulation. But there’s no denying that this may be a populist policy, introduced solely to garner more votes for the ruling party.
However, we’re more interested to see if the system will be sustainable in the long-run.
Luxembourg City, home to 110,000 people, has what The Guardian calls “some of the worst traffic congestion in the world”.
Drivers in the capital spend 33 hours in traffic jams on average, according to figures quoted in 2016.
With 600,000 citizens, nearly 200,000 commuters traverse the borders between France, Belgium and Germany to go to work everyday. 400,000 workers also enter the city to work daily.
Local commuters caught in train delays will be familiar with free train and bus rides whenever there’s a breakdown.
But with SMRT Trains losing $235,000/day for FY2018, we think it’ll be difficult to make public transport a free public good — at least where trains are concerned.
No other nation has succeeded in eliminating fares completely from its “entire transport network”.
So the peace offering of occasional free rides in Singapore will probably remain a polite gesture to win back consumer confidence — for now.
When consumers don’t directly bear the costs of upgrading and maintaining the public transport system, something’s gotta give.
A Luxembourg citizen earning S$3100/month would have to pay 18% in personal income tax, a figure that’s considered low by European standards.
Would you prefer free public transport for all in Singapore? Let us know in the comments below.
Meanwhile, we willingly pay $29.90 for this:
Featured image from Piviso.
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