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Luxembourg: Mobility change without driving bans

The free public transport service and the expansion of the light rail system make the use of public transport more attractive. Other offers help citizens to leave their cars behind. Driving bans are therefore unnecessary.

In many European countries, governments rely on environmental zones and driving bans to reduce traffic and advance the mobility transition. Subsidies for e-cars, as in Germany, create incentives to decide against a combustion engine when buying a new car, but this often does not bring about an actual calming of the congested roads.  In Luxembourg, the authorities are trying to provide alternatives to driving for less traffic and cleaner air.

Since 1 March last year, public transport in Luxembourg has been free of charge. This makes the country the first in Europe to offer such a service. Luxembourg's Green Mobility Minister François Bausch sees this step as an approach to change citizens' mindsets. With an investment of billions, he wants to encourage up to 50% more people to use public transport by 2025. Instead of expanding the motorway, on which people are often stuck in traffic jams, especially during rush hour, he wants to connect Luxembourg City in the north of the country with the economic centre of Esch in the south by a fast light rail. There is also to be an "express cycle path" on this route. In addition, a lane for express buses and car pools, i.e. an eco-lane, is to be built on the motorway.

As in other cities, such as Barcelona and Brussels, the transport minister has a new Luxembourg in mind. One in which there are fewer cars and more life on the streets instead. But the approach of the Luxembourgers is different: instead of bans, there are incentives and real alternatives.

As previously reported, public transport is usually much more expensive than the car, so many citizens in other countries choose not to take the bus or train. Although free public transport costs the country of Luxembourg up to 41 million euros a year, measures taken in Germany, for example, often also waste a lot of taxpayers' money. Long-standing discussions and lawsuits by the organisation Deutsche Umwelthilfe, for example, lead to eco-lanes and diesel driving bans, which are then lifted again as quickly as possible or at least are about to be.

A proactive concept like the one in Luxembourg would therefore also be worth considering for other cities and countries in order to offer citizens alternatives instead of imposing bans. In this way, the threat of diesel driving bans could perhaps also be prevented.