Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg

Population (2020)

626,108 inhabitants

Population density (2020)

240 inhab./km²

Mobility minister (2020)

François Bausch, ecologist

Political coalition (2020)

DP (liberals)
LSAP (social-democrats)
DG (ecologists)

(New elections were held in fall 2023)

Public transport modes

Train, bus, tram, funicular

Public transport operators

CFL, AVL, Luxtram

Type of FFPT

Full FFPT.
PT is free all the time, for everyone, on every line. Exceptions: 1st class in trains.

Target group


Implementation date


Implementation reason

As part of larger national policy.
The main arguments were: increasing the social accessibility of PT and increasing the ridership of PT.

Luxembourg is the first country to provide FFPT for all PT users, on all modes, on all its territory.

We’ve compiled here some results of our research on the fare abolition in Luxembourg, its operations and its governance, and we answer frequently asked questions on fare-free public transport in Luxembourg.

This page is also available in French here.

What motivated fare abolition in Luxembourg?

In Luxembourg, FFPT has been promoted since at least the 1990s by several political parties, but which were positioned at the margins of the political debate. It really appeared as an idea shared by all parties (except the conservative CSV party) in the electoral campaign in 2018. The renewed coalition between social-democrats, ecologists and liberals decided to add FFPT to its governmental programme and implement it in 2020.

During the campaign, the arguments in favour of FFPT were quite classical. FFPT was presented as a sustainable policy, which would attract car users to public transport (PT). However, this was not exactly shared by the ecologists, with a more realistic position, arguing that the service needed to be improved before making it fare-free. Other parties defended the idea that everyone should be able to make their own individual mobility choices, and that abolishing fares would make PT more competitive compared to cars. FFPT was also presented as a social and redistributive policy, which would enable poor people to move more easily. Additionally, it was an electoral strategy of the liberal party, which had deemed it a flagship measure of their programme. They also claimed FFPT would facilitate operations and cut costs in the ticketing system.

Finally, FFPT enabled the government to promote Luxembourg’s international image, as a land of sustainable mobility (rather than of tax evasion), and to position itself as a model country.

What facilitated fare abolition?

First, the decision was taken during negotiations to form a new government, by political parties which were, at that moment, quite close on that issue. They all wanted to abolish fares, sooner or later. Thus, it was a decision at the national level, in a country with only two power levels (municipal and national), and only five major PT operators. The latter are either managed by the State, or by municipalities, with national financial support. The low number of power levels and operators made things easier.

Then, fares were already integrated amongst networks since the 1990s. And in 2019, just before fare abolition, fares were quite low (2€ for 2 hours, or 4€ for one day, on the whole network) and farebox revenue only amounted to 8% (~40 million euros) of the whole operational budget. It’s really a negligible amount for a national government, and it didn’t represent a financial obstacle. Once the decision was taken at the national level, other stakeholders only had to apply it.

In 2019, just before fare abolition, fares were quite low and farebox revenue only amounted to 8% of the whole operational budget.

What were the main obstacles to fare abolition?

Luxembourg’s government only met a few obstacles before abolishing fares. Some people in some political parties and some transport workers’ unions were worried about two topics. First, that FFPT would “devalue” public transport: some imagined that “everyone” would use PT to do anything, that there would be a rise of antisocial behaviour, or of unhoused people and drug users on PT. Transport workers’ unions also worried about possible lay-offs amongst train ticket inspectors. In the end, they stayed on, with a slight change in their tasks.

Eventually, it was also quite difficult to negotiate the price of cross-border tickets with neighbouring countries. In the end, it was reduced from its luxembourgish part, but some foreign networks wanted to keep an identical price, which would have allowed them to collect more revenue.

What are the main advantages of FFPT in Luxembourg?

Luxembourg’s version of FFPT is quite maximalist: it applies country-wide, to all transport modes (bus, tram and train), and goes with the suppression of tickets altogether (except on cross-border links and on the trains’ 1st class). Thus, this reduces mobility inequalities (before, there was an administrative and mental obstacle to apply for social fares, for example) and abolishes a “tax” (the fare) which was not proportional to revenues. Now, PT are 100% financed by general fiscality, making PT a real public service, with redistributive effects. FFPT is a social policy.

Second, FFPT made PT use and operations easier, even in Luxembourg where fares were quite simple and cheap: for users, it is no more necessary to buy tickets or subscriptions, and for operators, to manage the associated logistics and accounting.

Third, FFPT provided more flexibility to people who make chain trips (e.g.: office – childrens’ school – store…) which are still mostly women.

What are the main drawbacks with FFPT in Luxembourg?

First, FFPT currently stops at Luxembourg borders, meaning cross-border workers still have to pay for a part of their trip, for a longer trip.

Second, abolishing fares did not come with a large debate on mobility policies in Luxembourg. Such debate remains confined to State stakeholders and some selected NGOs. Some participatory initiatives have existed (e.g. on the redesign of regional buses), but remain mostly cosmetic.

Fare-free public transport is above-all a social and redistributive measure.

Is FFPT efficient to attract more PT users and to reduce car use?

At this stage, it is impossible to say if FFPT impacted public transport use in Luxembourg, or even if it encouraged a modal shift from car to PT use, for several reasons. First, fares were abolished on March 1st, 2020, two weeks before the first lockdown measures linked to the COVID-19 pandemic. Work-from-home probably also impacted daily mobility flows. Second, the regular investments and changes to PT networks (extending the tram line, redesigning bus networks…) also influence PT use. Third, Luxembourg and cross-border populations are constantly increasing, which also affects car traffic congestion, and thus the inclination to use cars or not. It is thus impossible to isolate the “FFPT effect” from all these other factors.

In fact, abolishing fares is above-all a social and redistributive measure. Its main advantage is to make accessing PT easier for working-class and precarious groups. If the goal is to affect the modal split (the share of travellers using a transport mode, e.g. car, bus, bike…) and to lower car use, abolishing fares cannot be a stand-alone measure. It has to come with a radical improvement of PT service and a radical increase of obstacles against car use (while still taking in account social implications of such measures). To attain this goal, structural measures are necessary, such as rethinking about land-use management, and stopping peri-urbanisation, or even rethinking our capitalist economic model.

Was FFPT a stand-alone measure?

FFPT was added to existing mobility policies. Since the middle of the 2000s, the government invests in PT, with more ambitious plans each legislature, to improve PT networks’ capacity and level of service. In fact, they need to make up for years of under-investment and adapt PT to a constantly increasing population. FFPT was used by the mobility minister to attempt to draw attention on those investments, inside Luxembourg and internationally.

These investments are mostly happening on the infrastructure: new tram network in Luxembourg-city, project of rapid tram between Luxembourg and Esch-sur-Alzette, renovating the rail network and duplicating the rail line towards the French border, building park and rides next to the main stations, etc. There are also regular changes to bus networks (redesigning the regional bus network in 2022, adding cross-border lines) et purchases of new vehicles, notably electric.

However, there are still investments on the road network, e.g. adding a lane on the main motorways, to be dedicated to car-sharing during peak hours. This is not necessarily positive: any improvement of road capacity induces additional car traffic.

What does FFPT change for cross-border workers?

Apart from a few train stations located at the borders, it is still necessary to pay for public transport on the other side of the borders, even though fare prices have decreased. A political decision in Belgium, France or Germany would be necessary to abolish fares there, at one or several power levels depending on the case. At the level of the Great Region (Walloonia, Lorraine, Saar, Rheinland-Palatinate and Luxembourg), abolishing fares is only at the stage of intent statements. At the local or regional level, initiatives are sometimes announced, but they take time (Cattenom, FR) or are cancelled due to budgetary constraints (Walloonia, BE).

Of course, investments in Luxembourg, as well as FFPT, benefit cross-border workers for the last part of their journey. In the other countries, where it is also necessary to make-up for years of structural under-investment, Luxembourg punctually participates in financing projects. More and more though, stakeholders call for real cross-border cooperation on mobility policies, and making this participation structural. Since cross-border workers pay taxes where they work, authorities of bordering countries have less resources to make these investments (except perhaps in Belgium with which Luxembourg has a fiscal retrocession agreement). For instance, more park and rides are needed closer to commuters’ departure points, instead of building them in Luxembourg, after they already drove for the biggest part of their trip.

In fact, cross-border work is due to two main issues: Luxembourg-city’s role of main economic centre of the region (and its strong economical growth), and its laissez-faire housing policy. With a growing workforce and always increasing housing prices, half of the workforce has to find accommodation outside of the borders. This leads to longer commuting trips, which are more difficult to manage, both for commuters and authorities. These issues are political choices, and need a real debate.

Obstacles are not insurmontable if there is a strong political will to abolish fares.

Is nation-wide FFPT applicable to other countries?

Luxembourg is a small and very rich country. Its employment basin is larger than its national borders. Decision-making is relatively simple, since it only has five public transport networks, and two political power levels (national and municipal). In addition, in 2019, the farebox revenue was only 8%. The situation varies in other countries and localities. However, obstacles such as a high number of PT networks and a high farebox revenue are not insurmontable if there is a strong political will to abolish fares. Think for example of Germany, where they implemented the 9€-ticket (which later became the 49€ ticket) on all their local and regional PT networks. Fares were also abolished nation-wide in Malta (for all the cases, see our worldwide map).

Abolishing fares also means making other political choices: which mobilities will the collectivity finance? Do we make all networks fare-free, including long-distance ones, or only local networks and those limited to (re-)productive activities (work, school, shopping…)? And then, what happens with tickets? And how do the staff’s working conditions evolve?

If you have more questions about FFPT in Luxembourg, please feel free to contact the author.