CNN reports that Austria's Klimaticket, a $3.50 per-day, go-anywhere pass for combating climate change, has gone live. The ticket can be used on all public and private bus, metro and rail networks in the country. It costs approximately $24 (21) per day or $1,265 (1.095) per year.
Some parts of Europe have already adopted national travel passes. Germany, Switzerland, and the Netherlands offer discounts and other incentives to encourage transit use. Austria's Klimaticket, which literally means climate ticket, is the most affordable option. It marks a significant step towards the nation's goal to become climate neutral by 2040, one of the most ambitious green goals. CNN reports that the federal government has pledged $277 million (240 millions) to support this initiative. The ongoing costs are estimated at $173 million (150million) annually.
Leonore Gewessler from Austria's Green Party, the super minister responsible for the nation's transportation, environment and energy sectors, expressed excitement at the announcement of the initiative during a press conference last month. She's not the only one excited about the initiative: The Klimaticket booking site crashed due to high demand for early-bird tickets at a discount.
You can probably see my happiness. This is a significant day for climate and transport. Gewessler, via the Financial Times, stated that this summer has shown us one thing: the climate crisis is already upon us.
The 2030 Mobility Master Plan by the Austrian government calls for a reduction in private car use by 16% nationwide by 2040. This will reduce it from 70% to 54% of all annual kilometers. Authorities also plan to increase public transport from 27% to 40 percent of annual kilometers traveled, while also increasing active travel from 3% to 6%.
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Klimaticket's universal validity is one of my favorite features. This concept should be copied across the globe, Andy Brabin, European rail travel expert, told CNN. This is a potentially groundbreaking concept, as it removes some of the barriers to public transport. It also makes spontaneous trips easier, since you don't have to worry about purchasing tickets (which can sometimes be costly at short notice for longer distances).
Klimaticket's success could be a model for other countries to follow in their footsteps and offer affordable, convenient travel options across the country. Austria is small, so scaling up this type of initiative might prove difficult. There are bureaucratic obstacles that could also throw a wrench into the works. CNN reports that the Klimatickets project has been the focus of intense negotiations for the past two-years. Austria's rural regions have been particularly vocal in opposing tax dollars being used in order to subsidize public transit not in high demand.
Keith Barrow, editor at Todays Railways Europe in the UK, stated that he believes there is a demand for something like Klimaticket Germany. The Greens' success in the recent federal elections might inspire them to follow in the footsteps of their Austrian counterparts and push for an annual national public transport pass.