MONTPELLIER, soon the biggest French city to make its public transport free of charge

It’s official! No more tickets for all Montpellier’s inhabitants every weekend! Indeed, the operator, TAM, has just announced it on its website. A revolution at the initiative of Michaël Delafosse, mayor of the city of Montpellier and president of Montpellier Méditerranée Métropole. Ultimately, the latter wants to completely extend the free service. Zoom on this news, which will make Montpellier the largest French city to make its transport free.

Free tramway and bus from September 5

As reported on their website ”From September 5, 2020, residents of the metropolis of Montpellier will be able to travel free of charge every weekend on the buses and tramway of the TaM network. “On this occasion, the operator has just launched the ‘free weekend pass’. This completely paperless pass will be validated by passengers using the M’Ticket TaM mobile application.

Important to note that only residents of Montpellier are eligible for this offer. Indeed, the purpose of this free offer is to improve the purchasing power of Montpellier families. But also to redistribute the taxes of the inhabitants who pay several times for their transportation. Indeed, as the mayor of the city reported, “it is not normal for Montpellier residents and the city’s inhabitants to finance transport through their taxes and pay their ticket in the same way as people from Nimes or Sete who come to work in Montpellier”.

First phase on the way to total free travel

Indeed, as announced in the introduction, Montpellier doesn’t wish to stop there. This first phase, concerning only weekends, will be extended to seniors and young people every day. Then, in a third and last phase, it will be applied to the whole population. That is to say, 475,000 inhabitants. A third phase will make Montpellier the 35th city to adopt free transportation.

Indeed, as reported in our case study, “Free public transport, future or utopia?” only 34 French municipalities have made their public transportation free. As an example, we can cite Calais, Niort, Aubagne and Dunkirk. With nearly 257,000 inhabitants in urban areas, Dunkirk is the largest urban area in France to have adopted this system. “Launched in September 2018, ridership on its DK’BUS lines, a Transdev subsidiary, has exploded by nearly 65% during the week and up to 125% at weekends. »

A significant loss of revenue

Among the earlier studies of free transport, one key point often emerges, namely, the coverage rate. Equivalent to the ratio of operating expenses to commercial revenue, the average in France is said to be around 30%. In other words, 30% of network costs are borne by ticket and pass sales. For example, in Paris, this rate is 27%, 30% in Lyon and 47% in Strasbourg, the best ratio in France.

For the last 4 months of 2020, the free weekend operation should cost in Montpellier nearly 1.9 million euros … A cost, reduced to the year to 5.56 million euros. Knowing that the sale of tickets in 2019 amounted to nearly 39 million euros, the city still has to refine the way it wants to fill this money. By way of comparison, in Niort, the free ride is the result of the increase in the transport payment borne by companies. Whereas in Dunkirk, free transportation was made possible with the abandonment of the project to build a new auditorium. It remains to be seen what solutions the city of Hérault will adopt. To be continued … To discover also our case study “Free public transport, future or utopia ?