Free public transport to cut city pollution

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In car-obsessed Germany, the government is considering free public transportation in some of its most polluted cities to reduce road traffic and emissions from private vehicles.

"They said they would test these measures out in 5 cities - Bonn, Essen, Herrenberg, Reutlingen, and Mannheim - before rolling out the most successful measures to all other cities affected".

Germany's Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks wrote a letter to EU Environmental Commissioner Karmenu Vella outlining the plan.

According to AFP, which first reported on the letter, other proposed measures include further restrictions on emissions from vehicle fleets like buses and taxis, low-emissions zones and support for car-sharing schemes.

It'll be interesting to see if such an approach, if it ends up being trailed, will work to substantially reduce local air pollution problems. However, how exactly the cost of the free public transportation will be covered remains unclear.

The spokeswoman said it is not in the planning phase yet, adding that there aren't any rollout dates or further information on how much the federal government will give the city to subsidize free public transportation. The municipalities selected have not yet been informed and any plans have not been communicated to local authorities.

"We also have one or two ideas that we can also propose, since we've been working on this topic for some time", Sridharan told DW.

However, the Association of German Transport Companies (VDV) expressed doubts over the economic viability of free public transportation.

According to the VDV, nearly half of the money that goes into Germany's municipal public transportation companies comes from ticket sales - $14.8 billion a year.

The radical ticketless travel proposal is among a raft of ideas to cut air pollution that are being looked at by the German government as it seeks to meet upcoming European Union legal deadlines on nitrogen dioxide limits, the letter seen by AFP suggests. Its content is created separately from USA TODAY.

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