But that could be about to change. Last month, it announced plans to make all public transport — trains, trams and buses — free from March 2020.
The government hopes the move will alleviate heavy congestion and bring environmental benefits, according to Dany Frank, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Mobility and Public Works.
Tiny country, big traffic
“Luxembourg is a very attractive place for jobs,” explains Geoffrey Caruso, a professor at the University of Luxembourg and the Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research specializing in land use and transportation.
But its “booming economy” and high concentration of jobs have led to congestion issues, he says.
Park and rides around Luxembourg’s borders in the three neighboring countries, however, will encourage commuters to use free mass transit, according to Frank.
Free transport for all
Luxembourg’s public transport system covers the whole country and costs $562 million (€491 million) per year to run. Each year, it generates around $46 million (€40 million) in ticket sales, according to the ministry.
The government is putting up the cost of making it free, Frank says. “The country at this very moment is in really good shape. We, the government, want the people to benefit from the good economy.”
Luxembourg’s comprehensive public transport system runs through the whole country. A cycling race in the Moselle region is pictured.
Joern Pollex/Getty Images Europe/Getty Images for IRONMAN
Caruso is concerned that making transport free may unintentionally deter people who would normally walk or cycle in urban areas. “Rather than walking 500 meters, you see a bus coming and you say, ‘I (can) get on and travel 500 meters because it’s free,'” he says.
He adds, however, that the new scheme can signal important changes ahead when it comes to Luxembourg’s reliance on driving.
“(The government) might say, ‘It’s important that you ditch your car, and look, we made public transport free’ — and maybe this is helpful given the immense cultural shift we need.”