From the 21st of December 2023, the city of Montpellier will offer free public transport for all inhabitants of the city. Since 2020, free transport already exists on the weekends for all metropolitan residents. Free travel for all residents over 65 and under 18 years of age has been extended to every day since September 2021. According to Euronews, the measures are all part of a larger initiative worth €150 million to push for zero carbon mobility. The initiative includes investment in cycle lanes and the creation of a low emissions zone.
Free public transport is estimated to cost 42 million euros per year, according to a report by a report by the regional audit office presented in early February. This corresponds in particular to the loss of revenue of the Tam (company that manages transport in the metropolis of Montpellier) related to the current sale of tickets. “In the long term, the cost of free travel could represent 35 million euros in revenue, based on an assumption of a 90% loss of fare revenue,” reads the report. “To this cost must be added the amount of VAT (…), i.e. an additional financial challenge that can be estimated at 7 million euros.”
Michaël Delafosse, mayor and president of the Montpellier metropolis, said that the implementation of this free travel will cost 29 million euros per year. This represents 5% of the operating budget of the metropolis. The financing plan has been thought out in advance. He explained that the taxpayers already pay for transportation; those who are not taxpayers will continue to pay their tickets. He puts the number of outside visitors and tourists at 5 million. He assured that he will not increase taxes.
Delafosse noted that he will make savings by ensuring good management of the metropolitan budget. There’s an important tax contribution: the mobility payment. It’s due from businesses to fund transportation and mobility services. All this, plus regional and state subsidies, helps finance free transportation. He pointed out that 1.5 million in savings will be made by eliminating streetcar ticket machines. However, there will still be some at the Saint-Roch station, the Comédie, the Corum and the stations at the entrances to the city. They will cost less to operate.
According to local media, 38 French urban areas already provide free bus and streetcar services to their residents. Among them are Nantes, Dunkirk and smaller municipalities. Montpellier should be the first large city to offer free transport next year.
Montpelier wishes to become the European Capital of Culture in 2028
In April of 2022, the city of Montpellier and the surrounding territories of the Hérault, from Sète to Agde via the first foothills of the Cévennes and Lunel, launched their candidacy to be the European Capital of Culture in 2028. With a population of around 468,000, Montpellier’s strengths include architecture combining medieval gems and ultra-modern buildings, internationally renowned festivals, particularly in the field of contemporary dance, and leading museums such as the Fabre Museum (painting) and the MO.CO. (Contemporary Montpellier).
Montpellier also counts on history, traditions, museums, festivals, theaters, artists and architecture to support its candidacy to the European Capital of Culture 2028. Famous cultural treasures include Hérault, Agde la Grecque, Pézenas and Molière, Gignac, Lunel and the Pic Saint-Loup and the Sète soul with its 14 festivals, from rap to jousting via Brassens against a backdrop of the Mediterranean and the sun.
Created in 1985, the European Capital of Culture aims at promoting the richness and diversity as well as common cultural aspects in Europe, hoping to contribute to bring Europeans closer together and improve mutual understanding.
In 2028, France, the Czech Republic and Macedonia are the countries that will indicate the European capital of culture. The candidate cities include Chomutov, Brno, Liberec, Broumov and Kutná Hora, in Czech Republic; Amiens, Reims, Rouen, Bourges, Clermont-Ferrand, Banlieue and Montpellier, in France; and Skopje, in Macedonia.