Fare Discounts and Free Fares in Long-distance Public Transport in Central Europe

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Year of publication 2022
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Case Studies on Transport Policy
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Economics and Administration

Web Case Studies on Transport Policy
Doi http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cstp.2022.01.011
Keywords Fare discounts; free fares; public transport; railways; financial impacts
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Description Free fare transport schemes have been increasingly used in different parts of the world. They are utilized not only to stimulate public transport market share, but also to promote transport equity and justice. The application of these policies has emerged recently in two countries in Central Europe. The authorities in Slovakia and the Czech Republic have introduced generous fare discount policies for long-distance transport. Slovakia has introduced 100% fare discounts for children, students, and pensioners for railways from November 2014. The Czech Republic has introduced 75% discounts for children, students, and pensioners for both trains and buses from September 2018. These schemes are unique in their wide coverage and their application to long-distance transport. These policies were motivated by the mix of social, transport, and political considerations, but the social goals dominated. The aim of this article is to review and analyse ridership and development of modal shares after these policies were introduced. The major results of the analysis are the following: The policies significantly increased ridership and the modal share of railways went up significantly. The mobility of the targeted groups was significantly affected and the share of young and elderly riders increased. However, the policies were costly and also had some undesirable side effects that could have been prevented by better policy design.
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