Free public transportation is not a new idea, but it has gained traction recently with the announcement that two large transit networks in France were to become free of charge: that of the Niort metro area (100,000 inhabitants) in western France, and that of the Dunkirk metro area (200,000 inhabitants) in northern France. The success of the Dunkirk experiment, which incorporates a broader urban development project and a revised transit offer, has led to heated debates even in France’s largest cities. Can free transportation encourage a modal shift and limit the use of private cars? Is it a measure that ensures social justice, or an economic Utopia?
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