Free public transport for all children in Rotterdam trialled

Rotterdam is giving a boost to its ‘green credentials’ by allowing all children to use public transport for free for the whole of 2022.

City leaders say they want to make public transport as accessible as possible for children, and hopes this pilot scheme will encourage more families to choose public transport over their car.

Starting on 1 January, the scheme will allow youngsters who live in the city, and are aged from four to 12, to travel for free all buses, trains and trams for a year. Children up to three years can already travel for free, and so this new initiative has the potential to get many more cars that are often used just for early morning and afternoon school runs off the streets.

Rotterdam City Council says: “Parents and children are given the opportunity to travel in a safe, comfortable and clean way, without having to look for a parking space. In this way, children in Rotterdam have the opportunity to become familiar with public transport from an early age and to discover fun, new places in the city.”

‘The car is a “guest’ in the city

It’s the second scheme announced in recent weeks designed to help youngsters get safely around the city, after the Dutch national travel association, the ANWB, launched into a partnership with the municipality to collect, refurbish and donate unused bicycles to children around the city.

Rotterdam has a population of around 650,000 and, like many Dutch cities, it has a huge problem with the number of cars on its street, so this public transport scheme will be welcome news for environmental campaigners and those working to making the city’s streets safer for children to move around.

In 2017 the city council adopted the Rotterdam Urban Traffic Plan, outlining how it sees the future of mobility in the city developing. The car is seen very much as a ‘guest’, in the city centre in particular, and so with a growing city, and spaces becoming scarcer, ‘different choices’ are required and city leaders want Rotterdam to become ‘healthier and more inclusive’.

One of the ‘experiments’ it highlighted was around school environments, and in particular a scheme around two primary (elementary) schools in different areas, where new traffic laws were introduced to enable children to safely walk and cycle to to and from school.

Author: Simon Weedy

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