Montpellier adopts free public transport following Tallinn's example
As of yesterday, the city of Montpellier in Southern France has fully transitioned to free public transport, inspired by the model implemented in Tallinn. Prior to this change, thorough research was conducted on Tallinn's experience with the system.Tallinn's Mayor Mihhail Kõlvart commented on the paradox in Estonia, where the ruling coalition is phasing out free public transport nationwide, while at the same time, many European municipalities are considering Tallinn's model for implementation. "In France, several other cities and regions are also contemplating the adoption of free public transport. Like Montpellier, Tallinn is also making significant investments in public transportation, modernizing routes, constructing new tramways, and acquiring new rolling stock," said Kõlvart.
"Tallinn has provided free public transport for a decade, initially facing criticism. Over time, given economic and global changes, this initiative has become a universal solution with significant social and environmental impact," the Mayor explained.
Michaël Delafosse, Montpellier's Mayor, echoed these sentiments, emphasizing the role of free public transport in addressing climate change and providing carbon-neutral mobility for all citizens. "It also fosters a more inclusive society, allowing lower-income groups full participation in the city’s life," he added.
Since the fall of 2020, public transport has been free on weekends for local residents in the metropolitan area of Montpellier, which encompasses Montpellier and 30 surrounding municipalities with nearly half a million inhabitants. The decision was then made to fully adopt this model. To mark the occasion, Tallinn gifted Montpellier's city leaders with Tallinn’s green cards for public transport, allowing them to travel for free in Estonia's capital.
Montpellier's annual public transport costs, currently at €130 million, similar to Tallinn's costs, are projected to reach €200 million over the next five years. The metropolitan area expects a 20% increase in public transport usage, currently at 55-60 million trips annually, driven by infrastructure investments and the availability of free travel.
In May of this year, a Montpellier delegation visited Tallinn, meeting with Mayor Mihhail Kõlvart, Deputy Mayor Vladimir Svet responsible for transportation, and representatives of the Tallinn Transport Department. The meetings focused on the free public transport system.