Germany proposes free public transport to curb pollution, avoid big fines

Germany proposes free public transport to curb pollution, avoid big fines

An eye-catching proposal to trial free public transport in some German cities as a means of cutting emissions from dirty private cars is not intended as a substitute for efforts to clean up cars already on the road, a government spokesman said.

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

"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". However, how exactly the cost of the free public transportation will be covered remains unclear.

Bonn Mayor Ashok Sridharan said he was informed about the government's plans over the weekend, but said in a statement that he was happy that his western German city was selected as one of the "Lead Cities".

When it comes to making ticketless rides a reality, there are some pretty big questions that need to be answered first.

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Proposals to offer Germans free travel on buses, trains, and trams across the country are now under consideration by government ministers keen to wean the country off polluting private cars, according to reports.

The Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig is expected to deliver a potentially-far reaching verdict in this context on February 22.

With the announcement on Tuesday, Berlin attempted to prevent any legal action against it by the European Commission for continually failing to comply with European Union (EU) urban air quality regulations.

However, the Association of German Transport Companies (VDV) expressed doubts over the economic viability of free public transportation. There are also proposals for "low emission zones" for heavy goods vehicles.

If Vella is not satisfied with Germany's proposals, he has threatened to file a case with the European Court of Justice.

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