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After a successful trial in their capital city of Tallinn, the Estonian government have announced that public transport will be free across the whole country as of July 2018. That means all registered residents of Estonia will be able to travel on state-run transit in their local area at no cost.
The Tallinn experiment was introduced in 2013 with a goal of reducing traffic congestion and pollution, improving mobility for lower income residents, and encouraging more people to register as residents of the fast-growing, innovative city. They discovered that it encouraged people of all income levels to travel more often, and spend more on entertainment, such as going to bars, restaurants and cinemas. The scheme is possible due to a large allocation of taxpayer funds by the government, who recognise the benefits to individual residents and the nation as a whole.
Estonia is known as one of the most progressive countries in Europe, embracing new technology to make life better for its residents, and is an increasingly popular expat destination. However, it’s not the only country investigating free transport initiatives. Wales already provides free bus travel on weekends, Portugal offers free train travel for students, and it was recently announced that Paris is looking into abolishing public transport fares altogether. As Paris is one of the world’s largest metropolitan areas, this could have a significant environmental impact and influence other major cities to follow suit.
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