François Bausch (déi Gréng), minister for mobility and public works, has justified the cost of public transport for the taxpayer and envisages a number of avenues to finance Luxembourg’s mobility in the long term–in particular, by getting companies to participate more.
Jeremy Zabatta: Free public transport will cost €800m in 2023. Is this the price of free transport, and not only the €41m represented by the transport tickets that are no longer sold?
François BauschFrançois Bausch: €800m is the operating cost of all the modes of transport in our public transport network–the tram, the RGTR buses and the railways–for next year. It is a sum paid entirely by the state. When the decision was taken to make public transport free of charge in March 2020, the cover rate for ticket sales in Luxembourg, €41m, was around 8% of the operating costs, which were expected to be around €600m to €650m. This facilitated the decision to make it permanently free.
That’s a pretty high cost, isn’t it?
I think we have to look at this free travel with a more global view. You have to look at the gain that an urban public transport network has on the economy in general.
When the work in Luxembourg station and on the line to Bettembourg is completely finished, by 2028, there will be a train every seven minutes during rush hour.
Let’s come back to the figure of €800m. This is a significant amount within the budget of the ministry of mobility and public works. Should it remain stable, decrease or increase in the coming years?
This budget will increase. In the CFL financing law, which will take effect in 2025 for a period of 15 years, we have provided for increases such as indexations, but also an increase of 5% in expenditure per year, simply because we have planned to increase the service capacity on the railways and continue to invest in rolling stock. Moreover, the future CFL train should very soon be delivered for a test phase in Luxembourg. When the work in Luxembourg station and on the line to Bettembourg is completely finished, by 2028, there will be a train every seven minutes during rush hour. This will be a substantial increase in capacity.
Compared to last year, the budget has increased by just over €100m due to the increase in capacity and frequency of the public transport network, both on the railways and on the tram and RGTR buses. In the coming years, with the tram extensions, the big reorganisation of the RGTR network that we want to do in the south of the country, the public transport budget will therefore increase as we have a huge mobility programme up to 2035.