Major UK City Could Soon Trial Completely Free Public Transport

Free public transport could soon become a reality in the UK...

Written byBen Hayward
Published on
Read time3 min read

In what could be excellent news for the residents of Glasgow, the City Council has been granted support to develop a pilot scheme that would see locals given access to completely free public transport.

It is hoped that the pilot, which would see 1,000 people between the ages of 22-59 given free access to public transport for nine weeks straight, would help reduce inequality in the city and be a step towards achieving net zero carbon emissions.

People outside of the age range included in the trial already have free bus travel in the city, while those selected for the trial would be provided with preloaded travel cards, allowing them to access all modes of transport within zones 1 and 2 of the city.

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How much will the scheme cost?


As you can probably imagine, the pilot will not be cheap. Expected to cost around £250,000, while funds have been allocated to support the development of the trial, no money has yet been allocated for its actual delivery.

However, once the additional funding has been secured and the pilot is underway, data and responses from participants will be used to ‘feed into wider decision-making on the future of public transport within Glasgow’.

If the scheme proves successful, it has been estimated that a full roll out offering every Glaswegian age 22 to 59 free public transport over nine weeks would cost around £95.7 million - not including extra back office and admin costs.

While the plans are still in their early stages, it will certainly be interesting if the public transport offering in one of the UK’s biggest cities were to get a radical overhaul…

Greater Manchester recently became the first English region to take back ownership of its bus public transport services. Labour mayor Andy Burnham introduced the yellow-branded Bee Network in the hope that it would bring lower fares and better services for Mancunians with fares capped at £2 per journey.


Where has free public transport?

Elsewhere in Europe, free public transport for everyone was introduced in Luxembourg in 2020, making it the first country in the world to make all public transport in the country accessible to every single person, even visitors.

Residents of Malta have also been entitled to free public transport on most routes since 2022, even though there are just buses on the island - although this does not apply to tourists.

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