In Murcia, Spain, the new tram service offers a lifetime pass to citizens, in return for their cars

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Last summer, the city of Murcia, Spain made big news because of their radical new initiative aimed at cutting down congestion and pollution in the city. The idea was simple, but pretty radical and as as far as I know, never tried before – the city government and the tram company Mejor en Tranvia offered free lifetime tram passes to citizens in exchange for one of their roadworthy cars.

At that time, I thought the idea was brilliant, but I was still slightly sceptical about whether it would work. At the very first level, I assume they would have done their background research and ascertained that a major number of car journeys made by the citizens could be replaced by the tram service in the first place – that the tram service actually served the same origin and destination points for most citizens.

The second, but most important factor was of course, economics. Would it make economic sense for the citizens to replace their cars for the tram, even if their journeys were free?

I did not know the answers to those questions and I wondered what would come of it. I tried doing some online research but given my fairly limited (ok, non-existent) knowledge of the Spanish language, I couldn’t get very far.

Given the campaign was launched in July 2011, I am wondering what became of the campaign – how successful was it?

If it was indeed successful, shouldn’t we all be sitting up and taking notice? There are so many cities around the world, which could benefit from a similar campaign – provided the economics add up, of course.

I would really like to know.

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