Cheap or free public transport: Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg

In 2024, the convenience of public transport in Germany is further enhanced with the availability of a monthly ticket costing 49 euros. This ticket opens the door to unlimited travel on all local and regional public transport, including city buses, subways, trams throughout Germany, and short—and medium-distance transport, including trains. The ‘Deutschlandticket’, as it’s known, saw an impressive uptake, with over 3 million Germans purchasing it in the first month of its release in April 2023. Interestingly, at least 750 thousand of these were first-time public transport users.

Starting May 2023, Hungary offers an economically savvy option for public transport users. A national travel card, priced at a reasonable 49 euros per month, allows access to all bus and railway lines in the country, operated by the MÁV-START, MÁV-HÉV and GYSEV railway companies and the Volánbusz bus companies. The only exception is city services – for instance, an additional ticket is required to board a train in Budapest.

In a pioneering move in 2020, Luxembourg became the first country in the world to abolish charges on all public transport. This initiative was driven by the need to reduce car travel and the associated high levels of greenhouse gas emissions. At the time, Luxembourg had the highest car density in the European Union – 696 per 1,000 inhabitants (average is 560). Today, Luxembourg appreciates free transport’s environmental benefits, noting that it encourages people to leave their cars at home, facilitates ‘easy travel’, and is ‘positive for the environment’. Some even regard it as a ‘fundamental right’.

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