Germany’s latest, and more radical, plans are similarly supposed to solve the lingering problem of air pollution in German cities, which recently prompted the threat of major E.U. fines. …
“We are considering public transport free of charge in order to reduce the number of private cars,” three German government ministers wrote in their recent letter to the E.U., according to AFP. “Effectively fighting air pollution without any further unnecessary delays is of the highest priority for Germany.”
Those plans would be costly, as many German transport companies currently finance about 50 percent or more of their earnings through ticket sales. Instead, under the new scheme, the government would be expected to help shoulder the burden, which would ultimately make public transport an almost fully tax-funded system. The free public transport plans would be complemented by other measures, such as car-sharing schemes or expanded low-emissions zones within cities.
In Germany — a nation where cars drive on autobahns without a speed limit — the move might persuade many vehicle owners to take the subway instead, the government hopes. But it could also overburden public transport networks in major cities such as Berlin, Hamburg or Munich, which are already bustling during rush hours. The plans, some fear, would result in an exponential rise in associated costs because of costly network expansions.