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Luxembourg is first country to offer free mass transit to all

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A plan to reduce traffic and help the environment

Vehicles stand in a traffic jam near the France-Luxembourg border in Zoufftgen, eastern France on early August 2, 2018, as people are on their way to work.
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Urban traffic is an ongoing problem for many of the world’s cities. On an individual level, traffic is frustrating. But collectively, cars in jam-packed streets contribute to increased air pollution and exhaust that has been linked to an estimated three million deaths every year caused by air pollution.

Such sobering statistics have caused cities like London, Paris, and Seoul to double-down on car-free policies, including things like price congestion, car-free areas, the banning of diesel vehicles, and policies that would create more bike and pedestrian friendly cities.

Just recently, one of the smallest countries in the world has promised a new solution: Free mass transit for all. According to the New York Times, Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Xavier Bettel announced the plan when he was sworn in for a second term this past Wednesday. Bettel campaigned on a platform that prioritized the environment.

Free mass transit will be available in Luxembourg beginning in 2020, and will apply to all trains, trams, and buses. Some cities in Europe—like Tallinn, the capital of Estonia—have introduced similar programs in an effort to reduce traffic and entice residents to switch from cars, but Luxembourg will be the first country-wide program.

That’s in part because Luxembourg is a small country, with a population of 560,000 and the ability to travel across its entire landmass in less than an hour. But despite its diminutive size, the country is snarled in congestion. Luxembourg boasts approximately 662 cars for every 1,000 people, measuring as the highest number of cars for its population in the European Union.

Luxembourg City also has a high commuter population; home to 110,000 people, about 400,000 people commute into the capital to work. As a whole, Luxembourg boasts a robust economy with a high national average salary, but expensive real estate prices force workers to live elsewhere. Many of those commuters live across the border in France, Belgium, and Germany, a situation that some have described as the worst traffic congestion in the world.

With this new plan, Luxembourg aims to change that.