While Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo is seriously examining whether it would be possible to make public transport free, but other towns across France, albeit far small than the capital have already made the move.
The seaside town of Dunkirk in northern France, whose network extends to 200,000 people, is the latest town to announce plans to make travelling around on public transport completely free.
After making bus tickets free at the weekends in 2015, Mayor of Dunkirk Patrick Vergriete called this next step — set to happen September 2018 — will be nothing short of a transport “revolution”.
“Not only are we redistributing spending power,” he told Le Parisien. “But we are getting rid of inequalities by providing better access to jobs and leisure facilities.”
Last summer Niort in western France became the 15th town in France to introduce completely free public transport (see map below for full list) in a bid to crack down on traffic problems and boost the local economy.
There are also nine other French towns offering partially free public travel, with users paying only on certain days or in certain areas.
These are Compiègne (which started the ball rolling way back in 1975!), Neuves-Maisons in eastern France, Carhaix in the north west, Vitre in the west, Gap in the east, Manosque and Aubagne in the south east, as well as Libourne and Muret in the south west.
Supporters say the scheme encourages people to use public transport instead of cars and boosts economic activity in town centres
And a study showed that once Dunkirk made it free to travel by bus on weekends, the number of users increased by an average of 5,000 users a day, with families, young people and the elderly benefiting the most.
There is also the argument that it provides a car-free solution for the future.
And this is no laughing matter for local authorities, with the French government promising in October to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040 and ban them in Paris by 2040, something which is likely to put more pressure on public transport.
However detractors, including France's national transport network GART, say that towns should be introducing means tested travel rather than making it free for everyone.
“It’s important to remember that even if transport is free for users, it is not for the city. When users don’t pay, it has to compensate for those losses,” GART said in a statement. “In order to help people with fewer means, we would prefer fees to be income-based rather than fares based on the sole status of being an individual.”
These are the towns in France where you can travel for free:
Map: Map Customizer