Germany and eight fellow EU members including Spain, France and Italy sailed past a 30 January deadline to meet EU limits on nitrogen dioxide and fine particles. It’s an important goal, on top of priorities. “Life-threatening” pollution affects more than 130 cities in Europe, according to the commission.
It is causing some 400,000 deaths and costing €20bn euros (US$24.7bn) in health spending per year in the bloc. “We are considering public transport free of charge in order to reduce the number of private cars,” three ministers including the environment minister, Barbara Hendricks, wrote to EU environment commissioner Karmenu Vella in a letter. This will be tested by “the end of this year at the latest” in five cities across western Germany, including former capital Bonn and industrial cities Essen and Mannheim. Public transport is also highly popular in Germany.
Eco public transport in Germany
Other steps proposed Tuesday include further restrictions on emissions from vehicle fleets like buses and taxis, low-emissions zones or support for car-sharing schemes. BMW, Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler or the world’s biggest carmaker Volkswagen agreed to pay some €250m euros into a billion-euro fund to upgrade local transport. The auto firms have stepped up plans to electrify their ranges, with a barrage of battery-powered or hybrid models planned for the coming decade. Other attempts around the world to offer citizens free travel have failed, including in the US city of Seattle.