With the health, economic, social and environmental crisis we are experiencing, the prospects of the youngest are darkening. While the finance bill is currently under discussion in the National Assembly, France will have a million additional poor and is already seeing the youngest of its citizens facing difficult ends of the month. However, the issue of youth mobility as a solution to the precariousness they face is little studied today.
Transport: a cost of around € 250 per year for a student
However, the youngest, active or students, are faced with a major pitfall: transport is expensive, whether it is public transport or the car. Indeed, according to UNEF data, the average cost of public transport for a student was around € 250 per year in 2020. The Department of Research, Evaluation Studies and Statistics estimates that the share of transport in the total budget of 18-24 year olds represents between 13% and 18% of their annual expenses, i.e. the equivalent of 1 € 500 per year. Expensive transport encourages travel by private car, and makes it difficult to find a job or access to culture.
31 completely free public transport networks in France
It is true that free transport is growing. Useful in the face of the climate emergency, it is also a solution to support the purchasing power of young people. The recent announcements from the town halls of Montpellier and Paris are not the first. In France, there are currently 31 completely free public transport networks, generally in small or medium-sized towns such as Dunkirk or Aubagne. A very large part of the local authorities also set up preferential rates for students or the youngest, in order to facilitate their travel.
But, in the current context, we must go much further because young people are the first victims of this crisis. However, the existing systems are not in force everywhere and are aimed only at a fringe of young people, primarily students, and forget those who live on the outskirts of medium-sized towns. In addition, they do not concern Regional Express Transport, departmental transport and even less carpooling. This leads to real inequalities between the different territories of the metropolis or overseas.
Reduce territorial inequalities
Thus, it is high time to introduce free transport for 18-25 year olds to provide a local response that is both ecological and social to the challenges of the economic, social and environmental crisis that we are experiencing today. .
Thanks to such a step forward, young people would be able to move around their territory better and have easier access to places of education or culture, their place of work or the homes of their relatives. They would be encouraged to use rail and carpooling in order to reduce their carbon footprint, and would benefit from a real gain in purchasing power. To fully ensure freedom of movement, the limited free TGV and Intercity trains for the youngest should also be explored, in order to reduce territorial inequalities and give everyone the opportunity to travel. It could also be extended to all local carpooling systems in partnership with national operators in order to make daily carpooling a no-brainer for all those who do not have access to a public transport solution where they live.
Free transport could be easily implemented, since it only depends on age. This measure is necessary and vital for young people, whether they are students or already active, whether they live in rural areas, large cities or their suburbs. It puts an end to a glaring territorial inequality and gives everyone the opportunity to emancipate themselves. Because daily travel is a local issue, free transport is a necessary step forward on the road to progress.