Germany Proposes Free Public Transport to lower Urban Emissions

The scheme will be trialled in five German towns

The scheme will be trialled in five German towns Chris Harris The Times

"Effectively fighting air pollution without any further unnecessary delays is of the highest priority for Germany", the letter, which was signed by Germany's environment minster Barbara Hendricks alongside three other ministers, states.

The move is being considered to reduce journeys in private cars as Germany faces sanctions from Brussels for not doing enough to reduce harmful nitrogen dioxide emissions.

The German plan is to trial free public transport in the cities of Bonn, Essen, Reutlingen and Mannheim, and the town of Herrenberg to the south of Stuttgart.

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The government has chose to test the effectiveness of this proposal by the end of this year in five cities across western Germany.

"We also have one or two ideas that we can also propose, since we've been working on this topic for some time", Sridharan said.

According to the VDV, nearly half of the money that goes into Germany's municipal public transportation companies comes from ticket sales - $14.8 billion a year.

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However, the Association of German Transport Companies (VDV) expressed doubts over the economic viability of free public transportation. Several courts in Germany were also independently mulling imposing a driving ban on diesel vehicles in the worst-affected cities.

As some background here for those unfamiliar with the situation, a number of cities in Germany are persistently home to levels of air pollution that exceed legality within the European Union.

It also moots further possible steps, including restrictions on emissions from vehicle fleets such as buses and taxis, as well as low emission zones and greater support for auto sharing schemes.

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If the EU's environment chief Vella is not satisfied with Berlin's proposals, he may file a case with the European Court of Justice.

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