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Free public transport

Finished research
Begin: February 2020
End: February 2020

Free public transport is not a new idea, but it has gained traction recently with the announcement that two major transport networks were becoming free: those of the metropolitan area of Niort (100,000 inhabitants) and of the urban community of Dunkirk (200,000 inhabitants). The success of the Dunkirk experiment, which incorporates a larger urban development project and a renewal of transport services, has now led to heated debates even in France’s largest cities. Can free transport encourage a modal shift and limit the use of individual cars? Is it a measure of social justice or an economic utopia?

Research participants



VIDEO – Why are free public transport initiatives gaining ground?

By Maxime Huré (Political scientist)

In France, as is the case around the world, a growing number of cities have opted to launch free public transport initiatives. Why did they decide to offer free public transport? How do they finance it? Maxime Huré, lecturer in political science at the University of Perpignan, shares his views on the topic.

VIDEO – The future of free public transport: Dunkirk today, Paris tomorrow?

By Maxime Huré (Political scientist)


New users, development of activities, modal shift, etc. trialling of free public transport in Dunkirk could provide inspiration for urban areas such as Paris. Maxime Huré, lecturer in political science at the University of Perpignan, tells us why.

CROSSED PERSPECTIVES – Traveling without ticket?

By Jean-Louis Sagot-Duvauroux et Allan Alaküla

The philosopher Jean-Louis Sagot-Duvauroux is among those who, like Paul Ariès, champion a political project calling for all basic services and needs to be free. Allan Alaküla, who represents Tallin, the largest European city to have introduced free transport for its residents, advocates a pragmatic position on social and environmental issues related to mobility.

CROSSED PERSPECTIVES – Does free transport work?

By Philippe Duron and Arnaud Passalacqua

Gratuité des transports en commun.JPG

The idea of making public transport free is gaining ground. By the end of 2021, 36 towns and cities in France had adopted it. Its supporters defend its benefits in terms of equality and modal shift, while its detractors criticise the cost and question the benefits. But what do the results of the experiment tell us? What are the problems that emerge, and what are the solutions? Arnaud Passalacqua, member of the French Observatory of free transport, and Philippe Duron, president of TDIE, debate on the use of free transport as a response to contemporary mobility challenges.

The work of the Observatory of Cities with Free Transport

The Observatory of Cities with Free Transport was created following the Dunkirk study and in response to the lack of knowledge about free transport cases. The Mobile Lives Forum is represented in the Observatory by Sylvie Landriève, co-director of the Forum, as a member of its scientific committee. As part of the 2020 municipal election campaign, the Observatory is publishing a series of thematic maps, the first of which deals with the history of free transport policies in France.

Source and production Observatory for Cities with Free Transport - AGUR – VIGS


For the Mobile Lives Forum, mobility is understood as the process of how individuals travel across distances in order to deploy through time and space the activities that make up their lifestyles. These travel practices are embedded in socio-technical systems, produced by transport and communication industries and techniques, and by normative discourses on these practices, with considerable social, environmental and spatial impacts.

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To cite this publication :

Maxime Huré et Jean-Louis Sagot-Duvauroux (18 February 2020), « Free public transport », Préparer la transition mobilitaire. Consulté le 22 May 2024, URL:

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